Abu Dhabi moves in big on IMEX to leverage world travel awards honours

May 22, 2014 11:34 am

Fresh from its naming earlier this month as the ‘Middle East’s Leading Meetings & Convention Destination’ and its recent win of the biennial Abacus International Conference, Abu Dhabi is turning on the charmat this week’s IMEX in Germany – Europe’s leading meetings industry exhibition – to build on its growing business tourism reputation.

Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi)has led a 22-strong delegation to the Frankfurt show, which features a mix of hotels, convention venues, Etihad Airways, major attractions and professional conference organisers.

“It’s our strongest IMEX showing yet with over 40 specialised products in the line-up and it reflects our firm commitment to make our mark on the global MICE industry,” said Mubarak Al Nuaimi, Director Promotions & Overseas Offices, TCA Abu Dhabi.

“Apart from our World Travel Awards and Abacus wins, we are also demonstrating our prowess in hosting major MICE events as shown recently with the mega NU Skin incentive from China which last month brought upwards of 14,000 guests to our capital city with the staging of two spectacular gala events at the state-of-the-art Yas Marina Circuit Formula 1 track.”

Over 500 of Asia Pacific’s leading travel industry professionals will be in Abu Dhabi this October for the Abacus International Conference following a joint bid by Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau, a division of TCA Abu Dhabi and Etihad Airways.

Singapore-based Abacus, Asia Pacific’s leading provider of travel solutions and services, said its choice of Abu Dhabi as its ‘Exclusive Destination Partner’ reflects the UAE capital’s emerging role as a gateway for business and leisure travel from Asia Pacific and the company’s own desire to highlight how strategic investment in network infrastructure stimulates demand.

With time to unwind too, AIC delegates will enjoy the emirate’s exceptional hospitality and entertainment, including Yas Marina Circuit, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

The event will once again turn the spotlight on Yas Marina Circuit and its Paddock Club Level 3 Yas Events Centre, which has stunning marina and circuit views and where the indoor meeting space has been expanded by 2,000 square metres.

“The Yas Events Centre now offers over 34,000 square metres of versatile indoor and outdoor venue space ranging from the GP halls which are ideal for conferencing to the South Circuit,which provides the perfect setting for outdoor gala functions all with unparalleled views of F1 circuit and Yas Marina,” said Al Tareq Al Ameria, CEO, Yas Marina Circuit.

“The Yas Events Centre also provides an in house incentives programme like no other facility in the world through corporate track and drag driving experiences and the centre is supported by a key services team.

“Germany is a very important market for us especially because of our involvement with the automotive industry but our participation at IMEX is not limited to this. We are exploring business opportunities at a global level.”

The five-star, beachfront The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort is looking to build on its growing track record for hosting major events. The resort was the venue for April’s Global Aerospace Summit attended by 1,000 speakers and delegates and the last IRENA meeting which drew 1,200 attendees.

Meanwhile, Rosewood Abu Dhabi, venue for last December’s Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum, is working to gain a foothold in the European market.

“Our IMEX objective is to create new contacts, get an overview on how the European market is performing and what potential there is for the destination and our hotel,” said Hazem Harfoush, Acting Director of Sales & Marketing, Rosewood Abu Dhabi.

And the five-star, beachfront Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, which has one of the largest luxury conference centres in the UAE capital, is firmly focused on maintaining the MICE momentum which brought it significant business in 2013 with 708 events being held throughout the year – a 63% increase on 2012.

“Last year was an exceptionally good one for both group and corporate travel overall and especially from Europe,” said Doris Greif, the hotel’s General Manager.

“In total, Group business increased by 217% compared to 2012 and corporate guests rose by 221%.

Grief said the hotel’s focused push on the European MICE market is delivering dividends. “The results to date remain positive. Q1 this year has seen the development of corporate and group markets continue, with group travel increasing a further 109% compared to the same period in 2013, and corporate travel increasing a further 129%.

“Having one of the largest luxury conference centres in Abu Dhabi that offers both bespoke hospitality services and exceptional gourmet experiences has proven a winning formula in attracting many Germans and other Europeans to conduct their events in Abu Dhabi and at Jumeirah at Etihad Towers.”

In addition to hosting numerous medical conferences and symposiums, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers has recently hosted the Siemens Director’s Club from Germany and the Fujitsu Conference which was attended by participants from around the globe but booked from Germany.

And DMC Ovation Arabia says 2014 prospects continue to be bright. “We managed a successful incentive group of 200 guests coming from all over Europe for a security company based in Europe and the client is looking at Abu Dhabi as the next destination for its 2014 incentive group,” said Judy Broomfield, Associate Director – Ovation Arabia.

The company is now offering customised event logistics solutions for groups at the Yas Marina Circuit from luxurious vehicle options and limousines to exclusive parties on yachts at Yas Marina.

And on Yas Island, the signature Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi – the only hotel in the world to straddle a Formula 1 track –said its consolidation last year of partnership with major island attractions has enabled it to accommodate larger events and incentive groups. “This helps increase the offer to the end client as well as position Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi as one of the key hotels in the UAE capital for MICE business,” said Rose Carbonell, Marketing Manager.

“We are experiencing an increase in the corporate segment for groups due to the constant growth in the country which is creating new opportunities for companies to set up their HQs or regional offices in this region. In addition, the planning stage for large groups has increased significantly compared to the first few years after the recession, thanks to larger budgets from the end client. This has had a positive effect and results in better organisation and more MICE groups and we see the trend continuing in coming years.”

Another DMC – 1001 Events – has now appointed a representative in Germany to better cover the European market and capture both MICE and leisure business.

“At IMEX we will are promoting this new office as well as the destination,” said Luis Rodrigues, Director Sales & Marketing.

Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, which operates five properties across the emirate, is this year targeting a 15-20% growth in MICE business for its Abu Dhabi assets.

“All five properties have unique offerings that suit all markets,” said David Garner, Area Director of Sales & Marketing.

Meanwhile, Emirates Tours & Safari LLC, which offers special packages for team building, meetings and conferences, is looking to increase its incentive group business by 10% this year and believes it’s stacking up the right credentials.

“We got very good feedback from our recent ground handling partnership with Phocus Brand Contact for the Siemens Group last year, with the spouse programme being rated the highest of all Siemens events,” said Suzette A. Holandez, Marketing Manager.

“This year and next we’re striving to increase our traffic from Germany and Europe by offering our services directly to the event planners and tour operators.

And Abu Dhabi’s Le Royal Meridien, which recently completed a full-scale renovation and was named ‘Best Conference & Convention Hotel’ and ‘Best Five-Star Business Hotel’ in the recent MENA Travel Awards, has it has the MICE segment firmly in its sights.

“With eight meeting room options, including a large ballroom, we are well equipped to cater to large residential conferences, road shows and exhibitions. Our recent transformation offers brand new rooms, public areas and restaurants with award-winning facilities for prospective buyers,” explained Shaun Parsons, General Manager, Le Royal Meridien Abu Dhabi.