The next Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME) is only three months away. Can you believe it? For a lot of us, this will be the first time we’ve reconnected with the industry since the last AIME, which took place in February this year.

 Ahead of next year’s instalment, which will be delivered in a hybrid format for the first time, we spoke with CEO of Talk2 Media & Events Matt Pearce about what attendees can expect, how organisers are taking on the challenges of 2021 and some additions to the program aside from the virtual platform.

What can our industry and community expect from AIME 2021?

AIME 2021 will be the first time our industry and community will have been together to reconnect since AIME this year…so, we can all expect plenty of stories, maybe some tears and a lot of relief that we are all back at an event again.

Apart from all the obligatory new health and safety measures that will be in place, we are focussing on how we can help kick-start an industry that has been shattered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of that will be simply by facilitating discussion, so expect plenty of space to sit and talk, both on and off our exhibitors’ stands.

How is AIME taking on the challenges of 2021 in its new hybrid model?

We’ve taken the learnings of pandemic 2020 and created new opportunities with the AIME hybrid model. It has been specifically designed to offer a solution for those international participants, whether exhibitor or visitor, who are unable to attend due to travel restrictions. Our experience and research to date shows us that, the online experience being so different to face-to-face, facilitation needs to be managed differently.

The physical show is always limited by the time we have booked at the venue. Online has no such restriction and so we will run the event for another 10 days post the physical show dates. The biggest challenge is undoubtedly engagement and so we are developing a series of opportunities to drive that engagement, rather than just expecting it to happen. We’ve all suffered Zoom fatigue!

Outside of the virtual platform, what are some new additions or features for AIME?

One of the additions to the show comes directly from the research we did following this year’s event, introducing a brand-new exhibitor area called Activate, which we’ll reveal in the coming weeks.

There will also be a new Hosted Buyer Lounge and an Exhibitor Zone for live-to-virtual meetings to take place on the show floor in a comfortable and safe environment. Virtual exhibitors will also have a physical presence on the show floor through our new International Destination Showcase.

We will continue to run the education aspect of the event on the Monday before the show but are yet to announce our program. This has deliberately been pushed back so that the content is as relevant as we can make it. In many ways, this timing will reflect the show overall, with so many moving parts due to COVID-19, fluidity is the name of the game.

What are you most looking forward to for the 2021 event?

That’s simple – being AT the event! After all our industry has been through in the past nine months, the thought of being on-site with so many friends and colleagues is beyond exciting.