The HBAA repeated their highly successful International Forum and All About People Awards on the 18th-20th March 2016. The concept is to bring together the UK MICE agents who book overseas venues for their corporate clients and the destinations and venues which can accommodate those events, combined with a Forum covering MICE related issues and destination presentations.  This year I was attending, aiming to make new contacts and build further relationships for the business. The HBAA partnered with DBF Events, an international events management company with extensive expertise in bringing together the suppliers and bookers within the MICE industry.

The second annual forum to date took place at the 5-star Barcelo Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa in Alicante, Spain, a luxury hotel located on the slopes of the Sierra Cortina mountains.  This was extremely beneficial to In 2 Events as this hotel had been proposed to previous clients for past events. The Hotel boasts fantastic views of the Mediterranean (just 2 km away), and is only a 30-minute transfer from Alicante’s airport.   Located in Alicante, the hotel is integrated into a spectacular natural environment with an exotic array of over 150,000 plants that transporting you into an Asian world. The tropical gardens and six swimming pool areas, each of them Asian themed, all add to the immersive and cultural setting the hotel has created. The location could not be better for groups, being only 10-15 minutes from Altea and close to theme parks such as Terra Mítica or Terra Natura and just over an hour’s car journey from Valencia.

Barceló Asia Gardens Hotel boasts 312 bedrooms and over 3,500 m² of meeting space with a series of 9 function rooms that can seat from 30 to 1,000 people. The main room where the meetings were held during the forum was the Shanghai and Hanoi room, both of which have natural light and state-of-the-art technology equipment.

Upon arrival on the Friday there was a welcome lunch on the Mirrador Terrace, a great outdoor space for drinks receptions and buffet lunches. Soon after, Delphine and Michiel Fortuin, partners at DBF Events introduced the forum and agenda for the next few days. The one-to-one sessions started straight after this and I had appointments with Spain & Costa Blanca and Lyon Destination, two great destinations for incentives and meetings.  Dinner was held on the Palapa Terrace, situated right next to one of the six spectacular pools the Asia Gardens offer.  This was the perfect opportunity for them to reveal to us their Mediterranean and International gourmet cuisine which went hand in hand with their extensive outdoor dining.

The next morning consisted of more one-to-one meetings, and I met with; Square Brussels, Melia Hotels, Movenpick Hotels, Silversea Cruises, NH Hotels, and Copenhagen. Some very interesting meetings, with hotels and venues that could work well for In 2 Events clients (get in touch with me if you would like further information on any of these hotels or destinations).  I then attended group meetings which consisted of the supplier having an interactive group discussion with various buyers. These were great fun and The Hague even incorporated a game of Trumps, with the prize being a bottle of their notorious gin!

The afternoon gave buyers the choice of an activity from one of the following; Tai-Chi, a visit to Altea or lounging by the pool.  As the weather was not as warm as expected, lounging by the pool was the least chosen activity, surprising for us Brits, so I opted for the Tai-Chi option instead.

Tai-Chi, also called Tai-Chi Chuan, combines deep breathing and relaxation with slow and gentle movements. Originally developed as a martial art in 13th-century China, Tai-Chi is today practised around the world as a health-promoting exercise.  The class was more intense and slow moving than anticipated, and patience is defiantly a trait you must have when taking part!  However, the benefits are that it can help to reduce stress, improve balance and general mobility, and increase muscle strength in the legs.

In the evening there was cocktails and an awards dinner, which took place within the Hanoi suite. The room was lavishly decorated and looked unrecognisable from the daytime where the one to one meetings had been held. Buyers and suppliers were placed on tables and integrated so networking and mingling could continue throughout the evening. After the main course was served the winners of the ‘All about People awards’ were announced.  The winners were Fiona Marshall from CCD Global Events and our very own Account Manager from Barcelo Hotels Ann Marie Gildea.  The drinks flowed and the celebrations carried on throughout the night.

Sunday was the most beautiful day out of the whole weekend at Asia Gardens as the sun was shining and everyone was still up beat from the night prior.  The morning was off to a start with more one-to-one appointments where I met with; Leading Hotels of the World, Swiss & Italy, and Asia Gardens Hotel.  To end the weekend, we enjoyed a farewell lunch on the Bonsai Terrace, bidding each other a farewell until next time.

The HBAA Forum was a tremendous success with a mix of extremely beneficial meetings combined with fantastic like-minded people to network and share their passion for the events industry, a thoroughly enjoyable weekend.

Venue and Destinations

If you would like to speak to me regarding your venue or destination find requirements please email or call us on 02392 320581