The Hotel Show 2010

The hospitality trade show returns with fewer people, but more promise

Meeting Point's Sufyan Al Muhaisen.
Meeting Point's Sufyan Al Muhaisen.
Eagle K-wear's Martin Vella.
Eagle K-wear's Martin Vella.
A chocolate fountain from JM Posner.
A chocolate fountain from JM Posner.
Boncafe's Sally Francis: concentrating on customers.
Boncafe's Sally Francis: concentrating on customers.
Coffee machine provider Nespresso says it has seen business grow since the financial downturn.
Coffee machine provider Nespresso says it has seen business grow since the financial downturn.
EuroCave's Florence Bonnier.
EuroCave's Florence Bonnier.

Talking to exhibitors at the 2010 edition of the region’s established Hotel Show, Harriet Sinclair finds that the annual hospitality trade event has returned with less people, but more promise

Last month saw the Dubai Exhibition Centre play host to annual hospitality trade event The Hotel Show, which ran from May 18-20 and featured international suppliers exhibiting products for the hotel and F&B industries.

Though it was a smaller affair than last year’s offering, participants were keen to dismiss the idea that less people meant less business.

“Traffic-wise it was a bit on the low side, but quality-wise it was right up there. So we are absolutely delighted by the quality of visitors that we have had to the stand, and the contacts that we’ve made,” said Martin Vella, international business development manager of Eagle K-wear.

Justin Posner, managing director of JM Posner, also had a successful show and maintained he’d had some promising leads.

“There was not a huge volume of people here compared to Gulfood, but I do believe that the people who have come along are actually people who do want to buy something, which makes a difference,” he pointed out.

“Getting the right people coming along is what you want, because it’s not about volume, it’s about quality.”

This opinion was shared by Meeting Point Group managing director Sufyan Al Muhaisen, who said that the positive response at the show meant he would be returning next year.

“This is our first time at The Hotel Show and we have had some good leads. We will definitely be coming back next time,” he confirmed.

But although exhibitors found some quality customers, people were by no means under the illusion that business in the region was back to full strength.

EuroCave export area manager Florence Bonnier commented: “Honestly, I think we are in the middle of the recession. Of course the food and beverage industry has been affected, as there as less people in hotels so this impacts on us as well.

“But we are launching new products — such at So wine devices, which we think will be popular. But these things take time in this marketplace,” she observed.

Also emphasising that the economic crisis was not yet over was Bentley managing director Mark Okkerse.

“If you had asked me three months ago, I would have said ‘what crisis’, as we were delivering orders from 2008. But now, things have changed,” he said.

“Having said that, we are still developing new products like the eco-kettle, which encourages people to use less energy — and that remains attractive in a downturn,” Okkerse asserted.

According to Boncafé Middle East marketing and PR manager Sally Francis, developing new products and concentrating on the needs of existing customers has remained key to any company’s survival.

“Obviously there was a downturn with new hotel openings, everything slowed down — but we found that we’ve just had to concentrate on our existing clients, looking at things like our new in-room solutions,” she explained. “And even in a recession, coffee sales remained pretty good.”

Nespresso senior business development executive Vinod Alexander Chacko agreed, underlining the growing strength of the coffee market in the region.

“For Nespresso, business has remained much the same [during the downturn] and even continued to grow,” he said.

“You have expats here who can’t start their morning without Nespresso; when we open our boutique in Dubai Mall each morning, there are people queuing up to buy our products!”

After a full three days of launches, enquiries and trading, the overall verdict was that although traffic had been slower than in previous years, the quality of stand enquiries had been higher.

Hopefully these quality visitors have sowed the seeds for fresh business opportunities to take root.

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