Published: Thursday, 03 November 2016

United Arabs Emirates (UAE) and regional businesses need to rethink their approach to events in order to hold their place in today’s competitive market landscape, says Gulf Craft Chief Executive Erwin Bamps.

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(Photos: Gulf Craft - Chief Executive Eric Bamps at MICE Conference Middle East)

Speaking at a recent conference about corporate, trade, and consumer events, Bamps says a greater focus needs to be placed on offering value to exhibitors and creating an immersive experience for guests. For luxury brands, that means giving visitors a real taste of the lifestyle associated with the products they are manufacturing. 

“The priority for any business either participating in or organising an event is to intrigue guests and build lasting customer relationships. At Gulf Craft, where we build semi-custom yachts, this goes even one step further. At events, we aim to entice potential yacht Owners to visit our shipyard to get a real understanding of what it is that we are offering,” says Bamps. “But to achieve this, we must first pull on the heartstrings of prospective clients, and that is precisely what events must do – create inspirational experiences.” 

With USD 1 trillion of infrastructure projects under way in the region, of which 50 per cent is in the UAE, as reported by the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) Middle East Forum, there is a great incentive for both businesses and organisers to maximise their ROI from events.

Gulf Craft Calls For Review Of Traditional Approach To Hnwi Consumer Events

(Gulf Craft and Aston Martin car)

Bamps reckons that businesses must identify what type of events they want to organise relative to their audience. Is it a developing market that needs to be educated about a brand’s products and the associated lifestyle? Or is it a mature market that already understands the lifestyle and simply wants to see the latest innovations on offer? Assessing the right balance between tactical vs experiential is the first step.

Successfully engaging visitors involves the right combination of different factors, from venue selection to offering content that resonates with the target audience. Organisers must also focus on quality over quantity, and arrange events with consideration to time and space. 

“From our experience in the luxury market space, we have realised that it is often much better to have a small and intimate event in an extraordinary setting, rather than a large-scale event, allowing you to inspire, build relationships, and really connect with all the right people,” Bamps says. “An example would be launching a luxury watch on board a superyacht, with a carefully selected audience, while enjoying splendid views of the Dubai skyline from the midst of the Arabian Gulf. Many large-scale events in a typical corporate setting end up with very little quality one-on-one time spent with prospective customers.” 

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(Majesty 155)

Today’s high net worth individuals (HNWI) are global citizens by nature who travel the world and go from one event to another to network with peers and gain knowledge and information about their different interests, so an event needs to fall naturally within customers’ work and social calendars, adds Bamps.

“As a luxury brand, the very fact of the global citizenship of today’s high net-worth clientele simultaneously presents you with the amazing opportunity to connect with customers more than once every year and at multiple locations around the world,” he says. “In order to build a truly loyal following and recognition of a regular MICE event, the goal should always be to create a rewarding experience that benefits all stakeholders involved. Whether it is a large-scale exhibition or private product launch, people should know that at a certain time of the year, they can expect something from you, and that it is going to be exceptional. That is where Gulf Craft can both benefit from and support the further enhancement of MICE offerings in the region.”