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Mon 9 Feb 2009 04:00 AM

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How suppliers can crack the Middle East market

Use trade shows as an opportunity to build positive relationships.

Trade shows are undoubtedly the talk of the town at the moment, with Gourmet Abu Dhabi at the start of the month, Gulfood 2009 at the end and Taste of Dubai coming up the month after.

Following our supplier roundtable feature and having spoken with numerous Gulfood exhibitors for our special show preview, I found myself thinking from an exhibitor's point of view.

It's tough work, being a supplier or manufacturer at a trade show - particularly when you're new and share the same aim as so many others: to break into this region's market.

Over the next couple of months, hundreds of international companies will be competing to attract the attention of those Middle Eastern buyers who could pluck a small firm's product from relative obscurity and make it a big star on the regional stage.

For some, this ambition will become a reality and I can tell you right now - the most successful ones will be those who focus on building positive relationships.

Having a great product is half the battle, of course but it won't win the war for you because there are going to be hundreds of new product launches over the next few weeks.

What will make you stand out is if you are courteous and sincere to those people who can help you - your trade show visitors.

And for those companies who are already established in the region, stay alert! You should view these events as an opportunity to renew bonds with clients, listen to their issues and promote brand loyalty.

As Hilton Dubai Jumeirah F&B manager Oliver Steding comments: "Positive and lasting supplier relations are of prime importance for operations." If you can make a good impression on even one buyer, it will almost certainly have a positive effect on your reputation as a company.

So go that extra mile and make an effort to form solid, long-lasting relationships with the prospective clients you meet over the next few weeks; it will certainly stand you in good stead for the future.

Lucy Taylor is the editor of Caterer Middle East.

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