The Meetings and Incentives Forums – the buyer/supplier networking events run by the Great Hotels Organisation – are to expand into Asia and South America next year.
Currently, there are two European and one US forum, but next year these will be joined by Bali (23-24 March), Hong Kong (31 August-1 September) and Buenos Aries (October, date to be confirmed).
The Asian events are expected to attract 60 suppliers and 60 buyers with 50 of each in Argentina.
The news emerged during the second 2008 European Forum, currently taking place in Geneva. The four-day event has attracted 120 suppliers and two groups of 100 buyers, predominantly from the UK, attending back to back.
The forums combine speed dating-style meetings with networking opportunities. Meetings and Incentives Forum managing director Richard Barnes said total meetings at this year's events had increased to 9,300 from 9,000 last year and forecast the total to rise to 16,000 in 2009.
"The forums provide and efficient marketplace for buyers and suppliers," Barnes said. "It is replacing the antiquated format of exhibitions, where suppliers spend huge amounts to stand around waiting for people to drop by."