EIBTM numbers fall as IMEX and world events take hold

Preliminary figures from last month’s EIBTM point to a drop in visitor and exhibitor numbers. The show pulled in 2,125 hosted buyers and 124 association buyers during the first two days of the event, compared to 3,034 hosted buyers over the show’s three days last year. A total of 1,850 exhibitors took part, down 38% from the 3,000 who exhibited in 2002. Chairman of Reed Travel Exhibitions Tom Nutley admitted that competition from rival show Imex, as well as other issues facing the industry such as the the global downturn, the war on terrorism and SARS, had contributed to the drop in numbers. EIBTM exhibition director Debbie Jackson stressed that the focus was on improving the quality of visitors to the show, not simply increasing the quantity. “Our exhibitors continually tell us that the most important aspect of their participation at EIBTM is quality contacts,” she said. “They also want to meet new hosted buyers.” A system of individual appointments for hosted buyers – 66 per cent of who were hosted for the first time – was introduced to enable this process. European director of business development for Orient-Express Joanne Simmons reported “a stream of visitors” to the stand. “We had some good enquiries, even though the show was quieter than usual,” she said. Some buyers noted that the exhibition had “visibly shrunk” but predicted a renewal of interest next year, when the show moves to Barcelona in late November. “There was a lot of emphasis on Barcelona at this year’s show,” commented TFI Group’s director of promotions and hospitality, Bill Prosser. “But I do think it is a great choice of destination. I will most likely attend both IMEX and EIBTM next year, just for the networking opportunities.” An independent audit of the show’s visitor figures – predicted to be more than 5,000 prior to the show – was due as CIT was going to press.

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