Global business events are more important than ever to drive regional economies | Jobs Reply


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Despite the significant benefits, not all destinations are able to develop successful global event strategies. Those who demonstrate an unwavering focus on helping businesses.

Miguel Neves

Global business events are critical drivers of economic gains for destinations. They influence the development of the region in the short and long term, and their influence has deep political implications. In addition, they generate predictable income and attract desirable business tourism. However, despite all the benefits, not all destinations can develop successful global event strategies.

“Corporate events are vastly under-represented in tourism travel discussions,” said Dubai World Trade Centre’s Executive Vice President Trixie LohMirmand speaking at the Skift Global Forum East event in Dubai on Thursday.

Success of GITEX is Success for the Region

GITEX, the global technology exhibition organized and hosted annually by the Dubai World Trade Center, reported that the 2022 edition generated a record $698 million in economic output, sustaining an estimated $394 million in Dubai’s economy.

GITEX was one of the few global tech shows to open in 2020, while the Covid pandemic shut down most of the world. Dubai took a bullish view of returning to international business by announcing plans to reopen in the spring of 2020. However, LohMirmand revealed that the months leading up to the show took a big leap of faith. Thirty days before the exhibition opened in December, only 50 percent of exhibitors had confirmed. At the same time, pre-registration was only between 10 and 20 percent of average years. “People were calling us every day to ask, are you sure you’re going to run?” he remembered

Ultimately, the show was a success, with 60 percent attendance of the 2019 edition and attracting more than 70,000 attendees, more than half of whom were international visitors.

The GITEX brand has just announced its expansion into Africa with the inaugural edition of GITEX AFRICA in Marrakech, Morocco in 2023.

But global events like GITEX drive more than money-making; they are agents of development. “No one asks us how big the show is? Everyone is asking: will you do for us in Africa the same thing you do for Dubai and the region, creating jobs, helping us build an ecosystem in technology, exporting our talent, bringing in investors? said LohMirmand.

A key focus of business

“Dubai is small, but it plays big,” said Michael Dominguez – president and CEO of Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI), comparing the city’s success to that of Las Vegas. “There are only a couple of places in the world where everyone in the community is focused on the same thing,” Dominguez said. He noted similarities in the goal and mission of developing these two iconic destinations.

For LohMirmand, the success of global events in Dubai is not about entertainment glitz. Instead, it focuses on operational excellence and actively supports the business goals of attendees, exhibitors and sponsors. “That [comes] with whom they meet, what are the results of the contacts, the variety of product options, [and] what do they learn?” he said

Helping to achieve business goals is critical for everyone, from the world’s largest companies to small startups. It’s something that requires a personalized approach, which LohMirmand believes is very important. His teams have 40 or 50 KPIs for GITEX. One KPI is to attract at least 35 to 40% of companies that do not have a presence in Dubai.

Facing challenges

Dubai’s success brings challenges as demand in recent months pushes capacity limits and exposes congestion issues. Dominguez noted the similarities between Dubai and Las Vegas as two dense cities with high-quality convention offerings. He asked the organizers to use the entire city as a footprint for the event, not just the main hall. This approach helps manage congestion better, which improves the participant experience.

When it comes to innovative global events, both LohMirmand and Dominguez agree that corporate events can learn from festivals, but that they need to look beyond becoming a festival. Dominguez cited the example of Vegas hotels that constantly use things like music to create a comfortable environment.

LohMirmand sees technology as an enabler, rather than in any way a substitute for in-person events. He mentioned Dubai’s metaverse strategy and experiments in creating large metaverse events. However, developing a solid business plan for metaverse events is out of reach in the absence of successful case studies.

About sustainability?

With COP28 to be held in Dubai in late 2023, LohMirmand sees it as a great learning experience. However, for him, the challenges of truly embedding sustainable approaches in global events are still present, especially with the significant concerns of the worldwide economic recession.

“We talk about sustainability as a physical asset, and sometimes we forget about human capital and human conditions,” said Dominguez. Recognizing the sustainability challenges of global events, he emphasized that wellness and well-being are also important parts of sustainability. In addition, Dominguez highlighted the value of meetings and events as “the greatest adult educator.”



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