NTOs unite to target UK C&I buyers at inaugural event

UK-based national tourist organisations (NTOs) are combining forces for the first time to target UK C&I buyers directly. Around 20 NTOs, including Australia, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and South Africa, are co-operating on the yet to be named event. Dates have been announced for London on 7 June and Birmingham on 9 June. Marketing is due to kick off in March. Danish Tourist Board, marketing manager, conferences and incentive travel Jonathan Cohen, who is part of the steering committee, said existing shows such as EIBTM and Confex did not allow the NTOs to convey an ‘unbiased’ message. "This will be the first time ever that MICE buyers have had the opportunity to attend an event with no outside forces," he said. "NTOs have a reputation for impartiality as they are not selling a particular hotel or venue. The underlying message we want to get across is ‘keep travelling’." Branding for the event is under development and an event organiser has been appointed. It is expected that the shows will have a workshop element and will be tightly targeted to attract about 300 people over the two days. If the show is a success it could be rolled out annually. Buyers will be able to prearrange and book appointments with specific destinations as well as browse and network. Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau business development manager Maggie Greenstock said the event was an opportunity for buyers to focus solely on international destinations. "It will provide a clear reference point for buyers considering holding events overseas." Cohen said the group had evolved through informal meetings between London-based NTOs and was now looking at other areas of common interest, including commissioning research into the MICE market. However, he denied that the group wanted to formalise an association. "We are currently represented through ANTOR as well as the ITMA, MPI and SITE," he said. "No one wants a MICE representatives’ association, so I don’t think we need to come up with another three-letter acronym." Other NTOs that will exhibit are Austria, Canada, Dubai, Finland, Holland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Malaysia, Malta, Singapore, Sweden and Thailand.

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