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On February 15, 2018, leading tourism professionals from various sectors will arrive to Baku to participate in the B2B Luxury & MICE Workshop, will be held in Azerbaijan for the 7th time already. We are speaking to Helene Lloyd, director of TMI Consultancy, a well-known marketing and consulting agency with offices in London and Moscow, the organizer of this Workshop.
Q: Please tell us about B2B Luxury & MICE Workshop and how long have you been doing it in Azerbaijan?
A: B2B Luxury & MICE Workshop is an exclusive event for the travel companies that work in segment of luxury tourism. It is a one day event where leading local agencies from Baku are having face-to-face meetings with their international partners from various European and Asian destinations. Our international exhibitors include the leading luxury hotels and hotel groups, destination management companies, designer outlets, transportation companies and airlines, national and regional tourism boards who are interested to work with Azerbaijan market and want to increase the number of Azeri travelers to their destinations and hotels.
We started our workshop in Almaty, Kazakhstan, first, and then added Azerbaijan the next year. For six years we have been doing this as a roadshow in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, offering our international exhibitors an excellent possibility to present themselves in these 2 important markets within one event. In 2017 we also added Georgia and now B2B Luxury & MICE workshops are taking place during one week in 3 cities: Almaty – Baku – Tbilisi.
Q: There are a lot of tourism workshops taking place in Baku now. How does the B2B Luxury & MICE Workshop differ from the others?
A: In our B2B Luxury & MICE Workshop we try to pay equal attention to the exhibitors and buyers. That is why we are the only industry event where local agencies are provided with a fixed working space for all day of the workshop; they are meeting their foreign partners every 15 min while sitting at their desks.
Also we are focused on quality of our meetings, which are all prescheduled only, rather than on the quantity. We select our buyers very carefully, based on a special market research that we do each year prior to the workshop.
Q: How do you work in Azerbaijan? Please tell us more about your team.
A: Throughout the years that we work here, we regularly visit Azerbaijan, and not just on the day of the workshop. Maria Gorbacheva, director of B2B Luxury & MICE Workshop project, comes to Baku several times a year to meet the key agencies and update them about the new exhibitors that we try to attract every time, to introduce them to the new clients and projects that we organize. We are very happy and proud that we have the support of the Ministry of Tourism of Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan Tourism Association (AZTA), that always attend our Workshops. In Baku we organize them together with our local partners – Faig Gurbatov, Emil Nasibov and Kamran Gadirov. We also work with local partners in Kazakhstan and Georgia, as it is always very important to have collaboration and support with high level professionals in each market where we work.
Q: Why do you think B2B Luxury & MICE Workshop is important for the local travel companies to attend?
A: We all know how personal relations and face to face meetings are important in any business, and in tourism especially. Our exhibitors represent the most exclusive and high-end products, a lot of them are based overseas so not all travel agencies from Baku have a possibility to regularly see and meet them. Our workshop provides a great opportunity to run up to 25 business meetings within one day, catch up with your existing partners, update yourself on the new offers from tour operators, discover new destinations and find new partners. Our exclusive evening Gala cocktail is a great networking platform as well, where local buyers and international exhibitors can communicate in a more informal atmosphere and also establish new business contacts.
With our B2B Luxury & MICE Workshop, we bring to Azerbaijan such world famous hotels as Belmond, Relaix&Chateau, Grecotel, Duetorrihotels, Forte Village, Villa Magna and many others. Tourism boards of Spain (especially Catalonia), Singapore, Slovenia, Greece, Switzerland and lots of other exciting destinations have been among our key exhibitors over the past few years. The geography of our international exhibitors vary from Seychelles to Moscow, from Croatia to Thailand. The unique format of our Workshop that is pre-scheduled appointments only, provide a structured and dynamic way to maximize your time of work during the day of the event. We also invite guest speakers who are experts in certain areas of tourism, to give presentation to the local agencies as additional elements of the program, and also offer other education elements as destination presentation, where Baku agencies can familiarize themselves with certain destinations in more details. In 2018, Slovenia will be our official country partner so a special focus will be made on Slovenian hotels and resorts that are growing in demand with the Azeri tourist year on year.
We are looking forward to our next B2B Luxury & MICE Workshop that will take place at JW Marriott on February 15, 2018 and will be happy to bring a new delegation of our international exhibitors to your beautiful and vibrant city!