Exhibitors at The Hotel Show 2010 have praised the quality of visitors at this year’s show, reporting a high volume of potential business leads.

The three-day exhibition, which took place at Dubai World Trade Centre between 18-20 May, attracted more visitors than last year’s edition as well as delegates from around the world.

A number of companies participated for the first time this year, including France-based Blue Leaves, which supplies exclusive table wear to individual clients but came to The Hotel Show 2010 to establish a customer base of high end restaurants.

“Over the past couple of years we have established a large customer base in the Middle East but we have never had chance to work with restaurants in the region. This week we’ve had one firm order and many leads. The quality has been excellent so overall it’s been a great show,” said Jean Pradelle from Blue Leaves.

Show organisers were equally pleased with results from the exhibition, which was opened by HE Khalid bin Sulayem, Director General at the Dubai Government’s, Tourism & Commerce Marketing Department.

“Considering the global downturn, a five per cent increase in visitor numbers is a great achievement for The Hotel Show 2010. This year continues to be tough for many exhibitors and visitors alike as budgets are heavily scrutinised but their attendance at The Hotel Show 2010 – and plans to return next year – is testament to the continuing strength of the exhibition,” said Ray Tinston, Sales Director, The Hotel Show.

“Many exhibitors reported making good contacts and going away from the show with a number of positive leads, which is encouraging in this environment and points towards a recovery in the hospitality industry.”

Companies from more than 35 overseas nations joined 130 exhibitors from the UAE, filling six halls at Dubai World Trade Centre. Overall, the show welcomed 363 exhibitors.

France had the largest country pavilion, spanning 652 square metres, followed by Italy, Germany, Cyprus, China, Thailand and Belgium. Spain, Portugal, the UK and Turkey were also represented.

Gianni Foraboschi, Director of International Operations at Italy-based Tognini Arredamenti said: “The first day was very positive. We had more than 40 sound contacts, of which 5-10 are firm orders so we will follow these up. With visitors from across the Middle East, as well as Pakistan and Libya it’s been a promising show that has exceeded our expectations. We are confident it’ll bring real business.”

The show was divided into four sectors: Interiors and Design; Operating Equipment and Supplies; Security and Technology and The Resort Experience, with exhibitors in each area having a positive week.

“We’ve exhibited every year at the show and always get a good response from a range of hotels. We have a history of building good contacts here. We’ve had lots of enquiries for quotes specifically as opposed to people just wanting more information about our products and we’ve completed sales so it’s been a good year,” said Stephen Foot, Marketing Manager at The Warehouse in Dubai, which specialises in outdoor furniture.

Richard Kaye, CEO, of UK-based Corby, which manufactures trouser presses and other in-room electrical items, added: “This was our first show and overall we’re very, very happy because the quality of visitors has been significantly better than any show I’ve done anywhere in the world. The visitors have been receptive and we’ve met people we’d like to trade with in the future.”

The Seven Star Conference returned to The Hotel Show to tackle key issues facing the industry. Sponsored by Tamani Hotel Marina, the two-day conference attracted leading names in the hospitality industry, including Jean Paul Herzog, President of Hilton Worldwide, who discussed “The Sense or Nonsense of Star Ratings”. The conference programme also included the Middle East Spa Summit, which discussed all aspects of the industry from planning a spa to succeeding in the region.

“I’ve been involved in two sessions at the Seven Star Conference; one as a panellist and the other as host. They were both well attended with a good mix of attendees and a cross section of high level professionals,” said Michael Scully, Managing Director – Hospitality, Seven Tides, who was involved in the Strategic Marketing for Destinations and Staff Retention and Motivation in Hotels seminars.

The VIP Lounge offered networking opportunities to more than 250 top delegates and key buyers throughout the show.

Another edition to the show was the Associations Meetings, which saw the Housekeepers Association, Emirates Culinary Guild (ECG), Front Office Managers and Spa Professionals all hold their monthly meetings at the venue.

Mike Kitchen, Head of Facilities Management services at Transguard Group, who attended the Housekeepers Association, said: “It was a fantastic opportunity to discuss the factors affecting the hospitality business with professionals who know these best. It was a great forum to discuss and better understand market requirements and how Transguard can support the hotel industry across all levels of operations.”

This year’s edition also hosted the first Middle East Spa Awards, during which Bliss Spa at the W Hotel Doha claimed a hat trick of awards for Spa Marketing, Spa Design and the coveted Best Spa.

Meanwhile, the Corporate Catwalk showcased the latest hospitality uniform designs by leading industry players, including A Ronai and Eagle K-Wear. It also played host to the annual Student Design Competition, which was won by Souzan Hafez, a student of the Centre for Executive Education, Dubai, for her Flamenco-inspired restaurant hostess design.

The Hotel Show 2011 will take place from 17-19 May 2011.