March 21, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier | Image: Speakers at AIME’s opening press conference, from left to right, MCEC’s Peter King, Talk2 Media and Events’ Matt Pearce, Tourism Australia’s Kelly Maynard and AIME’s event director, Silke Calder

There was a real sense of gratitude – and possibly some relief – as Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME) stakeholders kicked off the event this morning at the opening event for media.

Australia’s government tourism marketing agency Tourism Australia also used the occasion to launch two new campaigns for the local and global business events industry to bring face-to-face events back for the industry.

“It’s a pleasure to see everybody here today. Sincerely, it is just awesome that we’ve got to this stage,” said Matt Pearce, director of Talk2 Media and Events, AIME’s organiser.

“We really can’t wait to reconnect with everybody, because frankly, it’s been too long for all of us and Zoom just doesn’t do it.

“This year we’re making up for lost time. There’s a lot to do, we’ve got a very positive program out there, we’re looking really to ensure that we drive commercial outcomes for both our exhibitors and our buyers,” he said.

AIME’s new event director Silke Calder, who has waited two years to deliver her first show, said she was “delighted, excited, also nervous” to be at an in-person event again.

“It has been quite a journey to get here. The last two years have been…hell and back for all of us and I’m so honoured to be working with the team on AIME,” said Calder.

“They’ve given their everything. They’ve put everything in this show and to see this today come together after two years is just unreal.”

Calder flagged the Activate and Activate Live additions to the show which will add some “great characters on the show floor”.

“We did think the show could do with a little bit more colour, excitement, fun, music,” she said.

Peter King, chief executive of AIME’s host venue, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre was also pleased to see the show back.

“To see so many happy unmasked faces here today is wonderful,” he said.

As the only state to currently have government backed insurance for COVID related event cancellations, King mentioned the improved relationship the Victorian industry had with government.

“We now have the ear of government, which we didn’t have as closely as we would have liked pre-COVID and finally they understand the significance and impact our industry has on local economies and employment in particular.

“Each event that goes ahead has a domino effect on a wider ecosystem of hoteliers, organisers, chefs, casual waitstaff, cleaners, technicians, farmers, producers, logistics, transport, exhibitors and many more. This is a very broad ecosystem of people who are dependent upon this industry.”

He also highlighted the positive impact of events on the city centre.

“It’s been pretty grim in the CBD for quite a while.

“Events like this bring people back into the city.”

Tourism Australia announced the launch of separate international and domestic campaigns into their respective markets this month, with the global campaign heralding a new creative era for their specialist business unit, Business Events Australia.

“These two campaigns form part of a broader strategy for recovery that will wholistically support Australia’s business events industry,” said Business Events Australia’s head of distribution development and partnerships Kelly Maynard.

Creative from Tourism Australia’s new international business events campaign

Maynard said the creative for the international campaign, which is launching into North America, the UK, Europe, South and South East Asia, New Zealand and China was “deliberately unique so it stands out in a very competitive business events market”.

“Our message to international business events decision makers is simple: Next time you’re thinking about where to hold a business event, come and say ‘g’day’ as there’s nothing like Australia for business events.

“With Australia’s international borders now open to fully vaccinated travellers, now is the time for us to go into market and make sure Australia is top of mind as business events destination.

“We’re looking to capitalise on the momentum from our border reopening with this global campaign. It’s about reminding business leaders around the world that Australia has everything you would expect from a business events destination and so much more.”

The domestic campaign is about reminding Australian business leaders that “you can’t put a price on the value of in person connections”.

“We’re asking Australian businesses to event here this year, not only because it will help them drive and achieve great things, but it will help the business events industry get back on its feet,” said Maynard.

“We hope these campaigns will go some way to help fast track the recovery of the business events industry here in Australia.

“We know the recovery won’t happen overnight but we want to get back to those [pre-COVID] levels as quickly as we can.”