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Political stability one of the top trends for booking an incentive destination

The latest trends in business events were discussed at the IBTM world industry trends report 2018 at IBTM Barcelona on 27 November.

Rob Davidson of MICE Knowledge said that the top three reasons for booking an incentive destination were political stability and safety at 66 per cent, value for money 65 per cent, and service quality was also important at 59 per cent.

The types of travel is also changing – from ‘beach resorts’ to enriching, cultural experiences as well as delegates seeking “authentic experiences”, and a focus on wellness and wellbeing.

“Buyers are also looking at cities which add value in terms of key note speakers and a talent pool, such as Rotterdam with its water-based industries,” Davidson said, speaking at IBTM.

Lead times are getting shorter for Europe. Larger events in the UK decreased from 18-24 months to 12 months. Organisers are introducing more creative formats and there is a move away from hotels to unique venues such as stadia, museums and attractions.

“Associations are finding they have to meet more frequently, finding that conferences and events every 2-3 years isn’t enough time. There is more to talk about such as challenges in the industry, and regulations in science and technology,” Davidson said.

“Despite concerns about new laws on immigration and visas affecting the sector, there hasn’t been any drop off in America so far,” he added.

In Africa, Addis Ababa is a strong performer due to demand from multinational business, and is supported by the increase in intercontinental air routes.

Countries such as Rwanda and Uganda are using the convention business as stimulus for business tourism. Two key countries to watch out for in terms of future elections include Nigeria in 2019 and Ghana in 2020.

“Our industry thrives when we have political stability,” Davidson said. However, there are reservations and issues to the industry in Africa. “Getting around Africa for pan-African events continues to be a challenge. Airlines are not as we would wish them. It’s easier to fly out of Africa via Dubai and then fly back into the country.”

However, a new rail and high-speed rail link between Tangier and Casablanca will open in 2019.

Europe is also performing strongly. Greece has bounced back from financial chaos, with Athens and Thessaloniki destinations earmarked as standing out in particular.

The Brexit question still continues to baffle everyone. “It’s very hard for any business to make plans,” Davidson said. “Don’t hold your breath.”