Registrations for the Global European Marketplace (GEM12) now stands ahead of last year's record numbers.
GEM12 is the annual event organized by the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) at which tour operator buyers sit down for a series of pre-scheduled meetings with a wide range of suppliers and trade contacts, ranging from hotels and specialist retailers to visitor attractions and tourist boards.
ETOA's Executive Director, Tom Jenkins, said: âThis is great news, as numbers will grow further as the event approaches. Our peak booking period is in early October, which is, of course, late. This is the travel industry.â
This year marks the annual workshop's 20th birthday, and it has grown from a small informal meeting of suppliers and inbound operators into being the most important networking event in the calendar for the European inbound tourism industry.
âAt the moment, 20% more buyers are registered than last year,â said Jenkins, âThis means we are on track to have more than 230 tour operators taking tables. This is a buying field far larger than any delegate can meet in one day.â
âThis is one reason why we have several events a year â there are workshops concentrating on the British Isles, hotels, cities, and we are developing regional workshops in alliance with destinations. But GEM remains the biggest.â
âI have attended GEM ever since it started,â said Robert Dee, Director of Sales for Rezidor, âAs a hotel chain with coverage throughout Europe, this is the only forum where my customers are arrayed in one room. It is the best forum in which to gain market intelligence. I gauge demand, maintain relationships, and sign new contracts.â
Mario Bodini of JacTravel said: âAs a CEO, I am always conscious of how my contracting staff spends their time. At GEM very little time is wasted: even if there is no business directly involved in a meeting, it gives us a chance to explain what it is we do and what we require. It has become the event where the European inbound industry discovers, networks, and signs contracts.â
Felix Guttmann, of the Canal Company in Amsterdam, said: âMy business has prospered in parallel with this event. We have been coming to it for twenty years, and it has always been the best sales day of the year.â
Tom Jenkins concluded: âWe provide an environment where members can have new ideas. This springs from new contacts and from new angles in relationships with established partners. It is particularly heartening that over 20 percent of those coming are doing so for the first time. The industry is changing. That our membership is changing and attending GEM is a reflection of what is happening in the market. It is also an endorsement of the Association.â
Established ETOA tour operator members attending include: British Airways Holidays, Cox & Kings, Expedia, Globus/Cosmos Gullivers, JacTravel, Kuoni, Miki, Tauck World Discovery, Tourico, Tracoin and Travel Plaza. New members include Groupon, Indian Compass, and Travellanda.