Bangkok is certainly a city with the wow factor and the ideal location for celebrating the twin anniversaries of double-bill partners Incentive Travel and Conventions Meetings Asia (IT&CMA) (20th anniversary) and Corporate Travel World (CTW) (15th anniversary).
Prior to the Thai Airways-sponsored event, which took place between 2nd – 4th October 2012, international buyers, corporate travel managers and world media were treated to pre-show city tours organized by the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) and Thailand Incentive and Convention Association (TICA). With trips down the canals of old Bangkok (Thonburi) and the Chao Phya River, Thai cooking classes and tours of the Royal Palace Grounds with the spectacular Emerald Buddha among the offerings, the organizers ensured that delegates had plenty of stories to swap as the event got into full swing.
Sticking with the same recipe that made last year’s event so successful, the chosen venue, the first-rate Bangkok Convention Centre (BCC) at CentralWorld, proved the wisdom in the old ‘if ain’t broke…’ adage. With views over the city from its 22nd floor vantage point, BCC visitors were served a constant reminder of Bangkok’s heady mix of new-city dazzle and old-town wonder.
If increasing participation is the measure of success for the world’s only doublebill event, then the visitor numbers for the 2012 showcase are proof of its strength: the 2,579 delegates from 57 countries exceeded last year’s total; the number and range of exhibitors was also up on last year (800) with 850 exhibitors from more than 325 exhibiting companies across 36 countries – 16 more than the previous year and proof of that crucial ingredient for growth: widening appeal. In addition, there were 497 buyers and corporate travel managers from 52 countries; 159 conference delegates from 18 countries; and 132 international and local media from 32 countries.
Having published a limited edition book charting the rise of IT&CMA over the last 20 years to mark this anniversary event, there were also a number of new practical initiatives at the show: a Global Networking Zone in the exhibition hall; a new networking session for travel managers and exhibitors in the foyer of the BCC World Ballroom; an IT&CMA and CTW smartphone application and; a complimentary King Power Corporate Card for all international delegates which granted cardholders discounts at selected merchants.
Storm clouds may have been gathering – and the host city holding its collective breath that it would be spared flooding on the scale that it had seen the previous year – but nothing could dampen the celebrations, particularly as days earlier the city received a significant boon with the news that international Formula One (F1) chairman, Bernie Ecclestone, had agreed in principle to a race in Bangkok in 2014. If Bangkok does actually manage to secure a Grand Prix, then its stature as an International MICE destination will be enhanced immeasurably.
If Bangkok is a city of contrast then judging by the success of this year’s event it must have the perfect blend.
Paul Broderick, attending IT&CMA 2012 in Bangkok for Kongres, is a novelist and freelance journalist based in London