It was showtime in Melbourne, Australia as the city hosted the 26th edition of the Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo (AIME) which brought together industry leaders, event professionals, exhibitors and media from over 20 countries. Like in the past, this year as well, the two-day event which officially kicked off on the 20th of February brought Asia-Pacific, a region representing a US $200 billion market, back on the world map of international meetings where 250 quality Hosted Buyers had the opportunity to meet over 300 exhibitors (including 25 first time exhibitors).
Jesús Guerrero Chacón reports
It has been a winning combination for 26 years in a row – as AIME, an event owned by the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB), has grown from strength to strength so has its host venue Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre (MCEC) which is set to open a new expansion mid-2018, adding some 70,000 square meters of exhibition space! The figures speak for themselves - show statistics report over 4,500 meetings took place during AIME, with Konduko tracking 8,774 digital handshakes on the show floor.
Special Focus on Education and Technology
Like last year, AIME teamed up with the Saxton Speakers Bureau to offer attendees a brilliant education program thanks to the Up Close and Personal Program, including a series of intimate sessions with world leaders from around the world. Apart from these, the AIME Knowledge Program covered important topics such as event technology, industry trends and forecasts, case studies on techniques to enhance pop culture, destinations and live events. Not only was it beneficial for the attendees but also for the exhibitors who were able to expand their knowledge thanks to two webinars and one face-to-face seminar hosted by Louise Harrison, Motive Networks, Coach and Consultant to the MICE Industry.
For the second time, AIME used the technology of Konduko which allows participants to scan their smart badges, exchange business cards with exhibitors virtually and collect important information about them in a user-friendly and eco-friendly way by reducing the waste of paper brochures, catalogues and other paper material.
Expressing her impressions of this year’s event and its future, MCB’s Chief Executive Officer, Karen Bolinger said and we quote, “AIME provides us with the ability to showcase all the great aspects of not only Melbourne, but of the Asia-Pacific. AIME welcomes delegates from 23 countries to connect and do business, with a commitment to quality and positive commercial outcomes for both exhibitors and buyers. I thank Reed Travel Exhibitions for the last 18 years of organising AIME, and once again this year, they have delivered another outstanding show. It has been an incredible journey to watch this show grow into what it is today. We are excited for the next chapter of AIME.”
New Skipper at the Helm
This year marked the end of Reed Exhibitions as the event organiser after being almost 20 years in the driver’s seat. At the closing of this year’s event, Graeme Barnett, Senior Exhibition Director of Reed, handed over the baton to Matt Pearce, incoming organiser of AIME 2019 and CEO of Talk2 Media & Events (Talk2 ME). Aligning their vision, Barnett stressed upon the power of face-to-face meetings in an industry that will continue to flourish over the coming years and shared Pearce’s strategic view of focusing on education and networking to bring the meetings industry forward.
One of the biggest challenges for the incoming organiser will be increasing the quality and quantity of hosted buyers (more association executives and PCO’s not only from Australia but from an international level) focusing on economic growth and proper level of seniority. Despite the event being well received in general by the industry, the new organiser will have their work cut out for them for keeping the interest of exhibiting destinations and venues coming from outside of Australia, which have seen their number reduced in the last years.
With a vision to become a regional hub for the global meetings industry, 2019 will see new initiatives for the three pillars of the event – commerce, education and networking. Some of these include increased number of Hosted Buyers, programmes to include personal and professional development and more networking opportunities to connect with buyers and industry partners.
Take a Bow
AIME recognised Jo-Anne Kelleway, Founder of Info Salons, as this year’s 2018 Industry Person of the Year, for her significant contributions and innovations to the events industry. Other winners included:
Northern Territory Convention Bureau - AIME 2018 Best Stand over 36sqm
Hyatt Hotels & Resorts - AIME 2018 Best Stand under 36sqm
Madhya Pradesh Tourism - AIME 2018 Best First Time Exhibitor Stand
Last but not the least, here’s a special note on his personal experience at the event from HQ’s Magazine Manager for Asia Pacific and Middle East, Vikas Tembhare, “AIME 2018 came with an opportunity to connect, meet and share with meeting industry professionals. The organising team had offered a variety of experiences to "UNCOVER Melbourne” - lovely under the sun lunch hosted by Abbotsford Convent with a view over the city, well organised press conference and education seminar, series of evening receptions at very special venues (Old Melbourne Gaol & Ormond Collective) and show floor entertainment. On behalf of Headquarters Magazine (HQ) team I would like to thank the entire team of Melbourne Convention Bureau and IBTM Events for hosting us during the AIME show.”
Supported by the Union of International Associations (UIA), the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) and the Interel Group, the global public affairs and association management consultancy, Headquarters Magazines serve the needs of international associations organising worldwide congresses.