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The big news coming out of the Americas Meetings & Events Exhibition, this week in Baltimore, is that the two-year-old event is moving to Chicago in 2013, and Orlando, Fla., in 2014. A rotation between those two cities also is planned.
Reed Travel Exhibitions, which produces AIBTM, said the move and rotation "will offer stakeholders access to new business opportunities in two key gateway cities that are themselves major hubs of the meeting industry." The U.K.-based company also noted hotel room inventory and size of convention centers as positives for Chicago and Orlando.
Visit Baltimore CEO Tom Noonan said: “Hosting AIBTM in Baltimore for two years with great events like U2 and the Star-Spangled Sailabration as backdrops has given the city a great opportunity to reintroduce meeting planners from across the country and around the world to Baltimore. We look forward to partnering with Reed Travel on future meetings and conventions.”
Preliminary numbers for AIBTM this year show gains in both exhibits and participation over last year's inaugural event. The hosted-buyer format of AIBTM attracted close to 200 main stand-holders, a 6 percent increase over 2011, with 55 new exhibitors. Buyers, which consist of association, corporate and third-party meeting planners, grew to 777 from 740 last year. Reed also reports that more than 1,200 participated in the education sessions on Day 1. Days 2 and 3 are dedicated to the exhibit hall.
In addition to the AIBTM track, several associations contributed to the show's education day: PCMA, SITE, MPI, ICCA, ACTE and the Union of International Associations. UIA produces the Yearbook of International Associations, which reports information on 64,000 organizations in 300 countries. Joel Fischer, who works in UIA's Congress department and is based in the U.S., reported that for international meetings, growth areas are South Korea, China and Singapore, which he said is very popular with industrial trade associations.
Attracting meetings to Latin America is a challenge, he said, because of political instability in some countries or parts of countries, the economy as well as long-haul travel to get there.
Leading cities for international meetings are Brussels, Paris, London, Washington and Geneva. Leading countries are the U.S., U.K., Belgium, France and Germany.
In "How to Better Market Meetings to Generate Increased Revenues, marketing expert and TRENDS columnist Elliott Jaffa entertained his audience while imparting helpful tips, such as:
- have a marketing plan in writing for your meeting. Segment who comes to your meeting and find out how to tap them.
- always end calls with "Are you coming to our meeting in…" to put the idea into the caller's head.
In "Creating a New Trade Show Experience," Melinda Kendall, a VP at events company Freeman, discussed different ideas that she found to be successful with others' meetings.
- Have a zoned floor, and each area has its own theater. Zones can be centered around content, where booths of similar or related interests are pulled together.
- Put the big booths in the back with other traffic drivers, such as food and cyber cafes, new product booths, keynote session area on one side, town hall meeting area on the other. Sponsorships can include a whole aisle or seating areas.
- Pavilions dedicated to a theme, placed in the back.
- Create Starbucks-like lounges, because people gravitate to such areas to network.
- Have a new regulations area, where participants go to find the latest news that affect their business.
A touching moment came in the keynote session, where motivational speaker Alexander Blass, a Baltimore native, introduced his parents who were sitting in the audience. It was the first time they had heard Blass speak in person. Blass talked about how his father instilled a sense of philanthropy in him at an early age, which carried through on his successful ventures in business and eventually to his winning the Daily Record's Top Innovator of the Year award.