Paul Kennedy MBE is group exhibition director of Reed Travel Exhibitions' Meetings and Incentives Events with responsibility for shows in Europe, Asia and Australia. Kennedy joined EIBTM in December 2004 after the show's Barcelona debut last year.
So why should we attend the show this year?
I believe we have made significant enhancements to the event. We will be delivering a whole package of improved benefits this year.
Firstly, visitors have got a far greater choice of destinations on show, from New Zealand and Columbia to Romania and China. Our Italian presence has exploded, with at least 50 per cent more space taken. Visit London also has its own 100m2 stand, separate from Visit Britain's - yet the Visit Britain stand is no smaller than it was last year.
We've made it very clear to the exhibitors that it's not just our job to sell space but to show commitment to the industry year round. The sales team have done a lot more travelling this past year in order to meet with exhibitors in their own destinations to better understand their needs and how their markets work. We've also joined up with more associations to produce cutting-edge research.
One of our major strengths this year is our educational programme, with a stronger association conference and a new corporate programme. Our new CEO Forum also sends out a message that we are serious on a macro level. We have had acceptances from every continent for the Forum from CEOs who wouldn't normally attend the show. We hope that the Forum will reveal a consensus about some of the major external pressures on planners and suppliers.The post-event fam trips have also completely sold out.
Do you think it is fair that hosted buyers have to pay if they miss appointments?
Unequivocally yes. I make no apologies for this. Every hosted buyer has been told that if they miss more than one appointment then they will be charged. It is a bold move but one that sends out a message that EIBTM is a serious show where serious business is done. I have an obligation to the exhibitors and need to ensure that the educational and networking opportunities at the show are maximised.
Will visitors experience the same traffic and transport problems as last year?
People did not pull any punches about the issues at last year's show, so we knew exactly what we needed to improve. Logistically, there are a host of improvements for this year. We have introduced more greeters at the airport for arrivals and departures and, even though we can't influence air traffic control in Barcelona, we have contingency plans in place - including hotel rooms - in case there are major flight delays.
So how has the year gone?
I've been in the job for just more than a year now and it's been one of surprises, discoveries and very hard work. But overall it's been a very positive experience. The industry has embraced our new business philosophy, which bodes well for the future of the show. But of course, it's not just EIBTM that I am involved with; there's AIME in Australia and CIBTM in China, plus we are involved in the ICCA conference and many market research initiatives.
FACTFILE EIBTM 2005: The Global Meetings & Incentive Exhibition Venue: Fira Gran Via, Montjuic 2, Barcelona, Spain Dates: 29 November to 1 December 2005 OPENING HOURS: Tuesday 29 November: 10am-6pm Wednesday 30 November: 10am-6pm Thursday 1 December: 10am-6pm