A low-key sales environment, loads of new ideas and information, and lots of networking: That's what the small group of ICPA members who traveled together to this year's European Incentive and Business Travel and Meetings Show got from their two days at Palexpo in Geneva. Here are some of their impressions.
* "I was very impressed with the show," says Charlotte Stott, senior vice president, marketing, for London Pacific Life & Annuity in Sacramento, Calif. "The size makes the EIBTM show manageable. Most impressive was the appointment system and the lack of aggressive sales behavior. If you were interested in seeing someone, they certainly made time. The vendor-sponsored parties were very tasteful.
"My goals were certainly met. I had just returned from a three-week trip in France, part of which was spent executing our annual convention in Cannes and Monte Carlo. It gave me a chance to see the ground operator and cover a few last-minute issues. It also gave me a chance to speak with the vendors who will be supplying hotels and ground operation for us in Bali in July 2000.
"The hosted buyer program forced us to visit with destinations that we might not have ever considered. We came away with new perspectives on several destinations."
* "I have been in the business since June 1980 and I have never attended aof any kind," says Kathleen Cook, manager, conference planning unit, for Hartford Life in Simsbury, Conn. "I was slightly intimidated by the size. Everyone told me that this was one of the best shows to attend because it was hosted buyers--appointments were made and it was low-key and comfortable to talk to everyone and there would not be high-pressure sales. That was truly the case in most instances!
"Really the most valuable element to me was to get to know Ernie, Karen, Evy, Louise, Sharyn, Judith, Jaimee, and Charlotte. I have not only met new friends, but have a strong network now to share ideas and ask questions of some real pros in the business."
* "The trip to EIBTM and Istanbul was very successful. ICPA is now out there in the international circles as one of the players on the market," says Karen Hopkinson, executive director of ICPA in Vancouver. "Our nine ICPA members went as a team to the EIBTM appointments and dinners. There were quite a few U.S. supplier players at this show who also spread the word.
"One major benefit of going as a group was the bonding and networking we all experienced. Ernie Tsouros, our ICPA legend, is probably the most well-respected international planner out there. As we visited the various suppliers to learn more about their incentive destinations, he brought up key suggestions and questions about the various international sites.
"ICPA will truly benefit from this international exposure."
About EIBTM 1999 marks a turning point in the history of EIBTM. Founder, Ray Bloom is moving on. "My greatest hope is to maintain what we've built: the partnerships, the hosted buyer programs, the campaigns," he says. "And that as the show size increases, we maintain its quality."
Bloom will shift his time to managing two trade shows in his native U.K. and a magazine he launched there called Incentive Business.
This year's EIBTM show was the largest ever, drawing 3,250 attendees along with 2,500 exhibitors.
Istanbul: Meeting Place of Great Civilizations Istanbul, Turkey, the meeting place of three of the world's great civilizations--Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman--recently attracted a meeting of another type: an educational fam trip for members of the Insurance Conference Planners Association.
This seasoned group of insurance planners, all of whom organize international meetings, began its journey in May at the European Incentive and Business Travel and Meetings (EIBTM) show in Geneva. As hosted guests of Lufthansa Air, EIBTM, and Turk Ekspres, the group had two full days of appointments and a hosted dinner event.
Many of the insurance planners admitted they initially were concerned about security and the quality of incentive venues and properties in Istanbul, but after the trip, future business from these companies is already being developed to this beautiful destination. "I had lots of curiosity about Istanbul and lots of reservations," says Charlotte Stott of Pacific Life & Annuity. "I am so glad that I went. The city is the best blend of east and west that I've ever seen. I had always thought Hong Kong filled that slot. Istanbul is a delight to the senses. The city is very western in appearance, and then suddenly, an incredible mosque or palace will rise out of the skyline. People are friendly, the food is outstanding, and there is enough to do that would keep a group busy for a five-day program."
Accommodations were provided at the five-star Hyatt Regency Istanbul and the Hilton Istanbul. Turk Ekspres, an experienced and creative, and its managing director, Nilgun Yucaoglu, coordinated travel to and around Istanbul with an introduction to the city on a relaxing cruise up the Bosporus Strait. The group later was welcomed at the private home of Ms. Yucaoglu and treated to a lavish Turkish dinner overlooking the Bosporus at sunset.
The next day the group explored the opulent palaces of the sultans and ancient cisterns built by the Romans, and also, of course, enjoyed some amazing retail therapy among the Grand Bazaar's 4,000 shops. Jewelry and handwoven rugs were the purchases of choice.
Site tours of other five-star hotels included the Four Seasons, the Swissotel, the Conrad Hilton, and the historic and breathtaking Kempinksi Palace, where the closing night dinner was served. For more information on Istanbul and Turkey, call Echo Farrell, director of North American sales for Turk Ekspres at (480) 607-9990 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.