The ninth annual European Incentive & Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (EIBTM), held May 21 to 23 at the Palexpo in Geneva, Switzerland, was the largest show yet, according to Ray Bloom, chairman of EIBTM Holdings, Ltd., the show organizer. This year, close to 3,000 hosted buyers from Europe, the USA, Australia, South Africa, India, Thailand, Brazil, Argentina, and Lebanon attended. There were more exhibitors than ever as well, some 2,000 individuals representing 100 countries-a 15 percent growth in exhibit space over last year.

Organizers were pleased with the show's 30 percent turnout of corporate executives; some 24 percent of the buyers represented incentive houses; ten percent travel agencies; 18 percent consultants/conference organizers; and 18 percent association executives. Of the total attendees, 76 percent were responsible for planning conferences and meetings, and 57 percent were responsible for incentive travel.

The Society of Incentive Travel Executives and Meeting Professionals International were two of the 35 professional meeting and conference industry associations supporting EIBTM. Both sponsored educational seminars before the show hours began each day. SITE offered a session on what's new in the Asian market. MPI presented a very well-attended session on how to measure your return on investment for meetings and incentives, presented by Dr. Tom McDonald.

The European Community took the opportunity at EIBTM to announce the results of a market study it commissioned, called the Business and Congress Tourism in the European Economic Area (EEA) report. Conducted by Horwath Axe Consultants of Paris, the study revealed that some 162 billion ECUs were generated from the industry in 1995.

Swissair, the main airline partner in EIBTM, which offers free tickets to many of the buyers attending the show each year, announced that it will withdraw 13 of its 15 long-haul flights from Geneva Airport and concentrate its future operations in Zurich. Bloom, who is looking at EIBTM's tenth anniversary next year, is nonetheless quite bullish. "The exchange will affect very few of those attending EIBTM," he says.