Why has the GCC started to attract more, and larger, events?
It is a combination of factors. One element has to be the investment in world class exhibition facilities, the most notable of which include Dubai World Trade Centre, the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha, the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, and the Kuwait Exhibition Center. Ten years ago these types of quality venues did not operate and as such hosting events such as The Big 5 in Dubai and ADIPEC in Abu Dhabi wasn’t as easy.
Beyond investment in venues, the region has recovered from the downturn much more quickly than Europe and the US. Major projects, be they in Oil & Gas, Infrastructure, Hotels, and Civil works, attract international clients. The region will host both the World Expo and the World Cup in the next eight years, both projects will require billions of US dollars to be invested in infrastructure, hotels, roads, buildings and projects and as a result these sectors see growth within the relevant trade show markets.
In September, we hosted the Hotel Show in Dubai, the region’s leading event for the Hospitality industry. Dubai will almost double the number of hotel rooms between now and the 2020 Expo, and as a result overseas operators are keen to grow or establish new properties, but in addition, existing hotels are refurbishing to ensure that the new launches don’t have an impact on their established business. These challenges and opportunities were featured heavily at the Hotel Show. We hosted more regional visitors than any other previous year with a 26% increase in the number of attendees.
What is the region known for when it comes to exhibitions?
We’re very strong in Oil & Gas, Construction, Interior Design, and Hotels and Hospitality, all of which are key markets for the GCC. dmg’s construction events, for example, attract more than 30 official Government pavilions each year, which comprise of representative companies from within those countries. The largest groups come from Turkey, China, Germany, Italy, USA and the United Kingdom.
What are some of the key trends shaping the business?
I think the most recent is content. It isn’t enough to simply attract booths and fill them with products. Visitors expect to generate value from an event in so many ways, which include networking through social media, and by attending educational seminars and conferences and through seeing new innovative products and solution. Examples include the Middle East Petroleum Club at ADIPEC, Awards programs, VIP key buyers’ clubs as well as numerous specialized topic seminars, workshops and conference programs.
What market share does dmg events have in the Middle East?
Market share is a very difficult question to address as we don’t monitor such elements across the region. In broad terms we’re one of the largest trade event organizers in the region, delivering events that scale from 70,000 visitors to the more bespoke specialized events that attract 5,000 people.
For our larger brands like The Big 5, ADIPEC and INDEX we’re fortunate to operate as market leaders. As for the recent launches into India, Kuwait and Saudi in construction through The Big 5 brand we’re growing very quickly towards a market leadership position. As an example, The Big 5 Saudi event doubled in size in two years and now provides more than 11,000 net metres of exhibitors’ products and services. It is an event attended by 10,700 visitors across the three days, and is already larger than any other construction event in the Kingdom, due in part to developments in the Jeddah and Mecca region.
Perhaps another measurement of growth is the volume of events that we’ve launched in the past three years, which grew from eight in 2010 to 26 in the 2014 financial year. Construction has been the principle growth area with launches in Indonesia, India, Kuwait and Saudi. In addition, in the past three years we’ve entered the Saudi market via multiple events including healthcare, interior design and hospitality.
How does your company’s performance correspond with the sector’s growth?
As a business, which is mainly large scale B2B trade exhibitions, conferences and some publishing, we have been growing well with an average ahead of the global industry with local results averaging 12% each year.
During the downturn years, many exporting companies across Europe and the region reduced their marketing investment, which is a fairly typical reaction to a recessionary market. However, whilst the volume of marketing activities reduces, it doesn’t stop. Instead it polarizes towards the strong regional events as clients don’t want to remove their products and services from the region completely.
Brands such as ADIPEC, The Big 5 and INDEX remained a key element for clients wanting to remain active in the region. The value of that face to face connection that large trade events provides delivers the opportunity to network and chat about market conditions, attract new leads and source new solutions. All of which are essential as you plot your way forward from a downturn.
As the recession receded in 2011, we have seen growth across the leading brands with International clients noticing that the GCC economies are rebounding stronger and more quickly than the European domestic markets. As a result the value of export sales increased with companies keen to trade across the region. Construction and Oil & Gas performed well in 2012 and 2013.
The Oil & Gas market has also grown with mutual collaboration to annualize ADIPEC in Abu Dhabi. The Government recognized the value that large events like ADIPEC bring to the local economy through the average visitor spending on flights, hotels, food and entertainment, as well as the technical knowledge exchange that conferences deliver. ADIPEC attracts over 53,000 visitors over the ten days and that is estimated to bring more than USD 70 million in combined revenue into city.