The Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre (BITEC) could not have opened at a worse time--October 1997, just three months after the collapse of the bhat, Thailand's currency. According to BITEC's developer, Dr. Prasarn Bhiraj Buri, this turn of fortune means the facility is vigorously seeking convention and meeting business, even though the original plan was to concentrate on exhibitions.

The combination of currency devaluation and change of marketing direction makes BITEC an unusually good value for North American conference organizers.

BITEC is one of the the largest centers in Southeast Asia, with a total gross area of 1.3 million square feet. The main exhibition hall offers 215,000 square feet of space and state-of-the-art facilities that include column-free exhibition space, 49-foot ceilings, and utility access through floor hatches with individual power supplies for each exhibitor. In addition, the 20,000-square-foot convention hall can be subdivided into three smaller halls. There are also 15 meeting rooms of various sizes that can be combined into larger function spaces. The facility's loading area includes a 34,000-square-foot loading platform, with 32 bays. BITEC's floor is reinforced to take loads of up to 600 lbs. per square foot.

The center has built private road access to alleviate traffic congestion. A monorail system that will serve the central business district with direct access to BITEC is also in the works.