The Touristic Dimension of the Hosted Buyers Program of TIF-HELXPO. A first assessment for the period 2014-2016
by Vicky Dalkrani, Dimitris Kourkouridis, Dr Kyriakos Pozrikidis
TIF-HELEXPO SA – EXHIBITION RESEARCH INSTITUTE,
154, Egnatia str., 54636 Thessaloniki
Exhibitions and International Fairs have become an important commercial Institution throughout their long-lasting history over the centuries. According to international bibliography, today’s exhibitions and international fairs are associated with the open-air trade fairs that used to take place in ancient times. Trade Fairs have always been a means of interaction between businesses and host locations on multiple levels, from the ancient years until today. One of the sectors mostly affected by trade fairs and exhibitions has always been tourism and more specifically the touristic development of the host location.
During the last decades, most of the countries all over the world have started organizing international trade fairs and exhibitions, thus making competition within the trade fair industry very intense. As a result and in their effort to offer the biggest possible customer satisfaction for their exhibitors, organizers of International trade fairs and exhibitions have developed hosted buyers programs for foreign trade visitors. Within the framework of these hosted buyers programs, today more than ever, organizers invite and host targeted professionals who constitute potential buyers of the products / services presented in each field exhibition. These buyers pre-arrange their b2b meetings with the exhibitors on-line, as the main purpose of the hosted buyers program is the promotion of the export activities of the exhibitors.
The present paper focuses on the case study of Thessaloniki, a city with a very long history in the exhibition and trade fair industry. In fact, the modern and contemporary history of the city is directly connected to the 90-year old History of TIF – HELEXPO SA. Throughout these 90 years of exhibition history of the city, Helexpo has always interacted with the city on multiple levels, among which that of tourism.
During the past two decades, TIF-HELEXPO has developed a state-of-the-art Hosted Buyers Program, in its effort to face the modern needs of the companies participating in its trade fairs and exhibitions while rendering them competitive on an international level. These efforts have been enhanced since 2014, as the hosted buyers programs are now organized in a much more systematic and upgraded way.
More than 1.000 foreign trade visitors from around the globe have been hosted by TIF-HELEXPO during the period 2014-2016. The outcome of these Hosted Buyers Programs on a business level has proved to be very remarkable, as numerous business agreements between local and foreign companies have been achieved, thus enhancing Greek exports.
It should be highlighted that the Hosted Buyers Programs of TIF-HELEXPO do not only have an impact on the actual business activities of all shareholder, as their importance with regards to the touristic development of the city of Thessaloniki shouldn’t be neglected. This contribution is the actual object of the present primary study, which shall be examined with the use of questionnaires addressed to all hosted buyers of the period 2014-2016.