Great Hotels spurns trade shows in favour of forums

The Great Hotels Organisation (GHO) is challenging the way hotels market themselves to the industry by launching Meetings and Incentives Forums, a series of pan-European trade shows for 2006. The four two-day shows will take place between May and October in London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Paris. The events will offer the chance for more than 250 vetted C&I planners from Europe to meet with up to 100 worldwide hotels and resorts. The shows will run alongside the GHO’s existing Meeting Forums, which were created four years ago specifically to market Great and Special Hotels of the World members to buyers. GHO director of events Billy Skelli-Cohen said that dissatisfaction with business resulting from existing trade shows had led to the initiative. “We felt that the shows do not work that well,” he said. “They do not provide the right environment for business or the right ratio of buyers for properties to get meaningful business. GHO will not be exhibiting at any of the Mice shows – including EIBTM or Imex – this year.” Meetings at the forums will be pre-scheduled by the buyers themselves, with exhibitors guaranteed a series of 20-minute appointments with 30 planners over the two days. “This means that our exhibitors can be sure all their appointments are genuine,” added Skelli-Cohen. “We have spent around £120,000 researching which buyers should be invited to the first event and are looking to have around 1.5 buyers per exhibitor, which will mean a smaller and more intimate show.” Nearly 30 properties have already signed up for the London event in May. Depending on their success, the GHO will look to roll out the forums to the US, the rest of Europe and selected Asian destinations over the next two years, said Skelli-Cohen. “We’ve focused first on our core market but are definitely considering further expansion,” he said.

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