The conclusion of the 25th anniversary of AIME was reportedly a hit with exhibitors and attendees.
The 25th annual Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo concluded on February 22 after an exciting and productive two days which brought together more than 3900 diverse trade industry professionals to learn, network and conduct business in Melbourne.
The exhibition floor, while smaller, was alive with plenty of energy throughout the range of stands, with 416 exhibitors present from 22 countries including every Australian convention bureaux, and international exhibitors from Korea, Thailand, Japan, America, India and Turkey.
The number of exhibitors in 2017 was a significant dip compared to 2016 where there were 523 exhibitors. It’s a trend that appears to be continuing, with exhibitor numbers in 2015 standing at 617.
Despite this, exhibitors did report strong business activity. Attendee numbers for AIME 2017 were recorded as “over 3900”. This compares to 4588 attendees in 2016 and 4776 in 2015.
Reed Travel Exhibitions event director, Ian Wainwright, said the success of the show depended on the quality of visitors, buyers and exhibitors.
“A key focus this year was to ensure a high quality across all areas of the show. Quality hosted buyers ensured exhibitors had the opportunity to meet with key decision makers who showed significant interest in their products or services, and had potential budget to spend,” he said.
“We are also pleased to report an increase in diversity as we welcomed hosted buyers with over $1.2 billion to spend from key global markets across Australasia, Europe, North America and Asia.
“AIME attracted a high number of new buyers this year, with 55 per cent experiencing the show for the first time and 70 per cent participating in mutual matching appointments ensuring quality connections and business lead generation. Over 2000 trade visitors visited the show, with 57 per cent of all trade buyers being middle management or above.
“The show floor layout allowed for easy movement between appointments and sessions, maximising opportunities for networking and education. Our speakers from Saxton Speakers Bureau, saw almost all sessions at full-capacity, and buyers were overwhelmingly impressed with their well thought through, quality schedules.
“We are delighted with the results from this year and are invigorated to begin building AIME 2018, in what will be a memorable and inspiring show.”
Visitors and exhibitors were also complimentary. Attendees took to social media commenting on the support, treatment and success of the show, using #AIME25 and #UncoverMelbourne hastags.
Conventions & Incentives New Zealand Australia manager, Sharon Auld, described this year’s event as “exceptional”.
“I’ve always been passionate about the event, but this year proved what can be achieved with a dedicated team, committed hosted buyers and enthusiastic exhibitors,” she said.
Elanor Investors Group head of events and public relations, David Lowe, said AIME 2017 was a great success for the company.
“With four of our larger C&E hotels from our extensive portfolio of hotels being represented – Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, Mantra Bell City, ibis Styles Canberra Eaglehawk and Parklands Resort Mudgee – it was imperative that all the appointments were qualified, real and with buyers that were serious about doing business,” he said.
“AIME 2017 delivered that in every way. We received close to one million dollars’ worth of leads for our hotels, plus we also had the opportunity to speak to so many other interested buyers that potentially have business for us in the future.
“You simply can’t beat the face to face contact that AIME provides as no other event brings buyers and suppliers together like AIME does.”
Pan Pacific Hotels Group business development manager, Nerissa Worwood, who exhibited on the Perth Convention Bureau stand, said that the quality and opportunities to connect with hosted buyers and delegates has been fantastic.
“We have received a good number of real business leads with good quality events. It has definitely been worthwhile for us to be here at AIME this year,” Ms Worwood said.
Keeping it real
AIME is guided by an advisory board made up of 14 industry leaders who are passionate about the growth of the meeting and events industry. The advisory board is looking ahead to keep the show current and adapting to the demands of the industry.
Advisory board member, Anine Leakey, acting head of events at the BT Financial Group said the welcome event at Carousel was a huge success.
“There were many comments about how the event has evolved over the years and [how it] is a great platform for business networking combined with fun,” Ms Leakey said.
Melbourne Convention Bureau CEO, Karen Bolinger, said that AIME is the ideal platform for industry in the Asia-Pacific to showcase their products and services to a highly targeted audience.
“This year MCB completely rebuilt our pre-touring program to be specifically tailored to our influential hosted buyer audience and to showcase the business events capability of our city in a new and immersive way,” Ms Bolinger said.
“The Uncover Melbourne program has been deemed by many as the best-ever by Melbourne Convention Bureau, and we believe this is thanks to the program combining education, networking and fun.
“The benchmark has been set for years to come and conversations have already started about how we are going to top it in 2018.”
Awards and recognition
For the 25th anniversary, AIME introduced two inaugural awards that were announced on the Tuesday. The Rising Star award, recognising upcoming business event talent, went to Jessica Abbey, from Leverage Marketing and Events, and the Lifetime Achievement award was given to Sue Calwell, an industry stalwart celebrated for her dedication and commitment to the business events industry over several years.
AIME exhibition award winners including Malaysia for Best Stand Over 36m², P&O Cruises for Best Stand Under 36m², 100% Pure New Zealand for Best Environmental Stand, APT Cruising and Touring for Best New Exhibitor, and Northern Territory for Best Innovative Stand.
Tourism New Zealand hosted a VIP breakfast on its stand for 100 delegates to give them an experience of New Zealand at the show. Jan Tonken, founder of The Conference Company and President of the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers gave a first-hand account of the value of hosting conferences and events in New Zealand.
Geoff Donaghy, CEO of the International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney revealed the outcomes of the first events held at the new venue where the logistics, technology and catering teams were tested across the theatre, convention and exhibition halls. One hundred per cent of clients in their test events rated their event planning experience as very good or excellent.
Reed Travel Exhibitions event director, Ian Wainwright, said AIME experienced a successful two days, bringing together a diverse and quality-centric place for exhibitors and buyers to meet and do business on the show floor.
“The 25th anniversary of AIME has gone off splendidly. We have had some really engaged exhibitors, buyers and visitors. We enabled the right buyers to connect with the right exhibitors, generating positive and meaningful business conversations.
“I am thrilled with the results from the past two days. Everyone involved in AIME has shown us why Australia is so equipped to hold events. Having had 25 successful AIME’s, we look forward to the 26th show in 2018.”