- Mr.Paul Devassy
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Some of the leading tourism destinations recently visited Georgia with the aim of meeting the key tour operators, by participating in the B2B Luxury & MICE workshop. Their interest in Georgia is due to the increasing number of Georgian tourist travelling abroad.
New contacts, tourist prospects, face-to-face meetings and many surprises, that’s what the annual workshop “B2B Luxury & MICE” brought to Georgia for the first time this year. As the event organizers said, one of the main reasons they decided to bring this event to Georgia is the impending Schengen visa-free regime with Europe.
We are delighted to bring B2B Luxury & MICE to Georgia for the first time and have been very impressed by the professionalism of the local travel industry and have had already had a positive response from a number of participants who took part in the event, said Maria Gorbacheva, Director of B2B Luxury & MICE.
The B2B workshop offered pre-scheduled appointments based on a tailor-made ‘Meet and Match-Making’ process based on the preferences of the local travel industry and the international products and destinations represented. The key benefit of this process is that companies having useful meetings, as they are part of the selection process.
Although, B2B Luxury & MICE is an established event in Almaty and Baku, where it has already been organised for 6 years, we are sure that there is sufficient interest from both sides to make this into an annual event and we look forward to returning to Tbilisi in February, 2018, said Helene Lloyd, Director of TMI.
“We are very interested in the Georgian market, and realize that this is potentially an important market for Spain, especially this year, because the visa regime is ending. The touristic potential between these two countries is fantastic. Our interest is to meet principal tour operators and travel agencies. We have participated in B2B for a number of years, and know the event always selects high level and professional participants in each market, the selection of agents in Georgia met our expectations and that’s why we are here,” Luis Boves Martin, Director of Department of Tourism at the Spanish Embassy.
“In 2016 there were a record number of international tourists visiting Spain; we received more than 75 million visitors from all over the world. Tourists from Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia are increasing too. We are ready to host Georgian visitors. Spain has everything that Georgian families are looking for in a holiday, including great beaches with special packages for families, as well as rich cultural, and gastronomic experiences. I have high expectations for the market after this event,” said Luis Boves Martin.
“The event is mainly focused on marketing travel products for individuals rather than groups, but we also see that a number of national tourism boards decided to attend in order to get a deeper understanding of the market potential. The key aim behind B2B is to connect up international hoteliers, DMCs (Destination Management Companies), and international tourism boards with local partners. That’s what the workshop is about. It’s a whole series of face-to-face meetings. I think that the B2B Luxury & MICE event in Georgia will result in a whole series of business relationships for the events.
According to Beverly AU YONG, the Area Director of the Singapore Tourism Board, the event will enhance Singapore’s ability to promote itself travel destinations among Georgians.
“We are here to promote our country a little bit more. I think there is a lot of potential for Georgians visiting Singapore. We do see a growing number of Georgians coming to our country, but we would like to make ourselves better known. With the help of the event we will build strong relations with the agents here and have them help us to promote our destinations. What Georgians are looking for in Singapore is family fun, cutting edge technology and services and rich culinary traditions, all of which we are very rich in,” said Beverly AU YONG.
“There are a growing number of Georgian visitors in France, which Chateau de la Messardiere would like to target,” said Cecile Rogue, who is the Chateau’s representative in the Georgia and CIS markets. “It is important for us to let people know that France cares about Georgia, and that they know that we are waiting for Georgian tourists to come and see what France has to offer. I am not waiting large numbers of Georgians, but those with a high enough income to get a taste of the best that France has to offer,” said Cecile Rogue.
“The event is very positive, people are very friendly and they ask lots of questions. It will take some time for Georgians to increase the number of visitors in France. The problem is that there are still no direct flights to France and that reduces the potential in both directions connections. French and Georgian people are very similar, we both appreciate good food, so Georgians will really enjoy our famous French cuisine,” Cecile Rogue said.
B2B Luxury & MICE is a closed, ‘invitation-only event’ which focuses on luxury and up-market travel products including 4-5* hotels, fashion outlets and different destinations, including national tourism boards. Via a face-to-face meeting schedule, Georgian Travel companies attending the prestigious event gained access to new ideas and luxury travel products, which do not take part in main stream travel exhibitions. B2B Luxury & MICE is organized by the British company TMI, a travel marketing and communication company which is part of the prestigious Travel Consul group, and its Georgian partner is marketing consulting and MICE company, BRANDOR Consulting.
“B2B Luxury and MICE workshop was first of its kind in Georgia and I found it to be very dynamic and well organized. I had a chance of meeting representatives of various luxury hotel chains, tourism boards and online booking systems in person and discuss future cooperation between us. Hopefully this workshop will be held in Georgia on yearly bases and we will get a chance of meeting more representatives from the industry and offer new and exciting destinations to our customers”, said Nick Manjgaladze, General Manager of local tourist agency “Travel Shop”.
The workshop kicked off with a travel market intelligence session which included a presentation by TMI’s Director Helene Lloyd and a panel of industry experts including local travel veterans such as: Nick Manjgaladze, General Manager of Travel Shop; Maia Sidamonidze, Managing Partner of Protravel Georgia and Dean of Caucasus School of Tourism; and Natalie Kvachantiradze, President of the Georgian Travel Association. This was followed by the workshop itself, a series of face-to-face meetings between international and local partners. The working day finished with a gala reception for all workshop participants at the “Hotel Museum” and other special guests, including the Georgia National Tourism Agency.