YOUR PERFECT EVENT SPACE IS SQUARE Completely redesigned for the 21st century, the London Marriott Grosvenor Square offers an experience no other hotel can match. Step out of your suite and bask by the fi replace in your own private garden. Exquisite dining from Gordon Ramsay's Michelin- starred maze with private rooms and ballroom dining for up to 550 guests. Chic event space for 1,000 delegates across 14 state- of- the- art conference suites. All right in the heart of Mayfair. Experience the shape of hotels to come. The London Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London W1K 6JP For hotel bookings For Gordon Ramsay dining reservations T: + 44 ( 0) 20 7493 1232 maze: + 44 ( 0) 20 7107 0000 F: + 44 ( 0) 20 7514 1528 maze Grill: + 44 ( 0) 20 7495 2211 marriottgrosvenorsquare. com
REGIONAL REPORT R eed Travel Exhibitions' Gulf IBTM show takes place in Abu Dhabi this month against a mixed regional economic backdrop. The financial fall out from Dubai World's debt restructuring was a shock for that emirate, although the wider region continues to bring infrastructure projects through the development pipeline. Qatar is on track for its new ICC next year and a new 480- room Aloft hotel is evidence that the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Company still very much means meeting business. The Gulf has been seen as an expensive destination, but more value- added packages and increasing flexibility among hoteliers are positives to come out of the economic crisis. MCI Dubai's Ajay Bhojwani says more hoteliers are able to understand the volume of business involved in meetings and " therefore are offering more flexibility, such as insisting on lower number of room blocks. It's good for the industry". Research last year by Reed and Gulf publisher Meetme, among local and international meetings buyers, found 81 per cent had held events in the region over the previous 12 months, compared to 46 per cent in 2008. The meetings are becoming shorter, however: an average 3.9 days in 2009, compared to 4.1 in 2008. Venues in the region replying to the 2009 survey reported an increase in business from corporates and non government organisations. In the former, oil, gas and utilities were the top sectors, followed by pharmaceuticals, medical and finance. However, business from construction and engineering slumped 10 per cent. Dubai remains the most popular regional destination with buyers, followed by Egypt and Abu Dhabi. The Gulf/ Middle East region's resilience is illustrated by the fact that 37 per cent were anticipating an increase in number of events held in 2010. The relative optimism was bolstered by suppliers, with over two- thirds believing the Gulf and Middle East have the most growth potential of any region worldwide. Cost continues to be the key influencing factor, followed by quality of accommodation, meeting facilities and service. CSR and environmental issues are not flagged up as important in this market, the survey found. Abu Dhabi posted a rise in RevPAR for the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008, even though occupancy dipped slightly, from 87 to 81 per cent, according to the annual Grass Roots Meetings Industry Reportpublished last month. Key source markets include Germany and the UK, although volumes are also growing from Russia, Brazil, Asia and the Americas. Abu Dhabi has some choice conventions booked in, including the 2012 World Gulf in expectation Education and research is helping bind the sands of the Gulf's embryonic meetings industry, providing a platform for venue infrastructure and new job opportunities. Vadim Majidreports ahead of GIBTM 2010. Ophthalmology Congress - the world's longest- running medical convention. By 2013, room stock will have doubled to more than 30,000. Business tourism accounts for 80 per cent of hotel occupancy in Abu Dhabi, according to the MIR research. " We are predicting that local meetings business will be increasing in the fourth quarter of 2010, and we hope that this ensures room nights as well," said Jebal Ali International Hotels' Shane Jameson. Dubai's cranes may be swinging a little less aggressively, but the Dubai World Trade Centre claimed that the number of companies participating in exhibitions hosted at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre ( DICEC) reached an all- time high of 21,823 from over 80 countries last year. GIBTM 2010 RTE exhibition director Graeme Barnett says the three- day GIBTM event, 29- 31 March 2010, is shaping up to be the largest ever gathering of meeting professionals in the Gulf, despite MPI deciding not to run its Gulf meetings and events conference this year. " The focus of the show will remain very similar to 2009 in providing the ' Employer of choice' ADNEC Humaid al Dhaheri, ADNEC's chief HR recruiter March 2010 Conference+ Meetings World www. c- mw. net 23 ' Dubai remains the most popular regional destination with buyers.'