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Sun 1 Apr 2007 10:08 AM

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Hoteliers support first GIBTM exhibition

The hotel industry turned out in force to support the inaugural Gulf Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings (GIBTM) exhibition held in Abu Dhabi last month.

The hotel industry turned out in force to support the inaugural Gulf Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings (GIBTM) exhibition held in Abu Dhabi last month.

Organised by Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE), the event included more than 200 participating companies.

Starwood director of global sales Middle East Dany Nakad said it was important for big hotel companies to support the new exhibition.

"We want to support tourism and the exhibition; MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) being one of the most important [markets] in the hotel industry," he said.

Nakad stressed Starwood gave "great importance" to the MICE market segment. "We have specific sales managers for the MICE market. That is relatively new," he said.

"[We are using] our same stand as at ATM, we wanted to test it (the exhibition) out and support this initiative to make it more successful in the future - it's great for everybody that way," he added.

Bab Al Shams general manager Abdin Nasralla said Jumeirah was also keen to promote the industry.

"The variety of business is very important for our industry - we can not rely on one segment therefore we have to be out in every segment," he said. "We can not only depend on individual bookers, but with MICE the numbers [of guests] are bigger."

Nasralla revealed MICE business had grown  15% to 18% across the group's UAE portfolio, and although the figure was different from hotel to hotel, he estimated as much as 20% of business annually came from group bookings.

Kempinski vice president sales and marketing Middle East and Africa Roland Obermeier said he had noted a trend towards MICE bookings at the company's properties in Oman and Tanzania.

"It was an investment for us to come here [to GIBTM]," he said.

"But it has been a very healthy investment for us and definitely something we will do again," Obermeier concluded.

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