AIME 2024: The Biggest AIME in a Decade!

7th Mar, 2024

In February this year, the 31st edition of The Asia Pacific Incentive and Meetings Events (AIME), a leading trade show for the international meetings industry, took place in Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC). Owned by the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) and managed by Talk2 Media & Events for the past six years, this year's AIME set new records for exhibitor and buyer numbers!

Vivian Xu Reports

Over 570 exhibitors from 33 countries participated in AIME 2024, representing a 63% increase over last year. More than 600 hosted buyers and 4,000 visitors attended the three-day event, representing sustained growth of 51% compared to AIME 2023.

Pre-Event Uncovers

Melbourne Programme The international media famil programme kicked off on Sunday 18 February at the Royal Botanic Garden Victoria with a welcome smoking ceremony and an exclusive brunch hosted by Business Events Australia in partnership with the MCB. “We are all sisters and brothers. We represent our culture, and all the culture pieces come into one. We have respect for each other and for our culture.” A welcoming speech by an elder from the local Aboriginal community reflected the Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs) the nation has been implementing since 2006.

“Reconciliation Australia acknowledges traditional owners of country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters, and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.”

After the brunch, transported by Luxcoach with its cocktail bar on wheels, the international media group arrived at the world’s largest multi-purpose stadium – Marvel Stadium. Located in the heart of Melbourne, the stadium is home to two local teams competing in the domestic leagues of Aussie Rules and Cricket, and has also hosted some large international sports events such as UFC, Soccer World Cup Qualifiers, International Rugby Union tests, etc. Medallion Club, located on level 2, Overlooking the Docklands Harbour, is one of the most popular outdoor event spaces in the stadium. Other event spaces such as the newly opened Champagne Bar and Horizon Room are sweet spots for meetings and seated dinners.

Walking down to Docklands Harbour, a water taxi took the group for a quick tour of the Yarra River before arriving at the MCEC. There, an epic experience narrated by David Attenborough, BBC Earth Experience awaited. What an unforgettable journey through the natural world crossing seven unique continents on the most epic scale! MCEC proudly showcased its transformative audio-visual technology through this breathtaking immersive experience. “AIME is a flagship event for the industry and as Australia’s largest and most versatile event space, MCEC is the perfect host. We were proud to welcome back so many visitors for the largest AIME in a decade and provide a dynamic space for attendees to connect and engage in meaningful discussions, fostering innovation and growth within the industry,” added Natalie O’Brien AM, Chief Executive of MCEC.

AIME’s Knowledge Programme

AIME's Knowledge Programme led the first day of the trade show, and more than 1,000 attendees participated in the programme. The networking lunch was presented by the future Nyaal Banyul Geelong Convention and Event Centre, which is set to open in 2026, adding another competitive event venue to Melbourne's map.

Curated by El Kwang and his BEAM team with the support of an advisory committee consisting of eight industry leaders from the APAC region, this year’s Knowledge Programme was themed “The 4Ps of GLOCALISATION”. “We initiated a research journey to gain insights into audience sentiments, recognising their crucial role in shaping our approach. At the outset, we discovered that the audience was grappling with a ‘So What’ syndrome. This indicates a desire not only for the 'whys' from speakers but also for actionable insights addressing the 'how' and the 'now' applicable across the 4Ps.” said El Kwang, Founder and Chief Engager of BEAM. The programme drew inspiration from the AIME global community’s wish to harmonise the symbiotic relationship between global insights with local nuances. “Our research further illuminated the complexities of operating within the APAC region. While leaders aim to foster unity with a shared vision, they also value celebrating the region's diversity by embracing local nuances. This dual perspective underscores the importance of a nuanced, regionally sensitive approach in our endeavours.” added Kwang.

Speaking about breakout sessions on topics as diverse as the culture of courage, tackling key issues such as modern slavery, AI in events, and personal core values, Kwang shared his thoughts: “Ensuring a well-rounded AIME Knowledge Programme is our top priority, incorporating insights from both within and beyond the industry. We've received a substantial number of expressions of interest and proactively engaged speakers whose expertise can enhance the programme's depth. Throughout the selection process, we've relied on the guidance of our 2024 content advisory committee to ensure alignment with current industry themes.”

Two days Trade Show

As mentioned by Steve Dimopoulos MP, Victoria’s Minister of Tourism, Sport and Major Events, AIME is the first of the ‘big four’ trade shows on the international business events calendar in 2024, and he acknowledged the unneglectable economic and social impact that the meetings industry has generated in the state. “The recruitment, vetting, and management of our hosted buyers is second to none. The care and curation we take in making sure that the right buyers are meeting the right sellers will drive results that we can be proud of. This work is what sets AIME apart from so many other events,” said Matt Pearce, CEO of Talk2 Media & Events.

The two-day show saw more than 15,000 pre-scheduled meetings and more than 1,600 delegates gathered for the Neon Carnival-themed Welcome Event at Grazeland in Melbourne’s inner west. The evening ramped up a notch as Mitch Tambo, followed by Discovery - Australia’s Daft Punk Tribute Show, took to the stage and everyone danced up a storm. “At the core, we are about business events and providing the best access to key decision-makers and the people who make it all happen. AIME has proven itself as an essential platform for this,” said Julia Swanson, CEO of MCB.

“The meetings have been incredibly satisfying and I can’t wait to welcome everyone back to Melbourne for AIME 2025,” concluded Silk Calder, AIME Event Director. This is the third AIME show Silk delivered with her amazing event team!

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