If you’re heading to Melbourne next week, expect to see new faces and regional exhibitors returned to the fold.
The Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event is under new management and for those you who have decided (or still considering) to attend this year’s new-look event, the first and foremost thing you need to know is that AIME is no longer about Melbourne.
“We’re putting on a show for Asia Pacific, not for Melbourne – that’s the difference,” says Matt Pearce, CEO of Talk2 Media & Events, who is now managing AIME.
While Pearce (pictured) and his team are running the show (taking over from Reed Exhibitions, which managed AIME for more than 10 years under its ibtm portfolio) AIME is still owned by the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB).
“It’s important to separate MCB from AIME,” Pearce says, addressing past criticism that the event was too focused on the Australian market and on promoting its host city. “Melbourne is a great city and will benefit from people being in the city, but that’s as far as it goes.
“No one complains that Frankfurt or Vegas is host to IMEX, and they don’t complain because there is a strong business outcome. We’re focused on business outcomes and believe that if we get that right, then the location is not as important as it has been made out to be in past criticisms,” he says.
“AIME is very proud to be in Melbourne – it’s been running for 27 years and there wasn’t a complaint until it started to decline in outcome.”
To ensure the event lives up to these claims, Talk2 Media & Events has sourced a number of new buyers from across the APAC region. In fact, more than 60 per cent of hosted buyers attending the show next week will come from outside Australia (namely China, India, Korea and Japan) and 40 per cent will be new to AIME, so expect to see some new faces.
The team also had to win back regional exhibitors – many of whom had walked away from the show in recent years. This year, expect to see more regional convention bureaus and venues from the likes of Thailand, Macau, Indonesia and Hawaii. There will be exhibitors from at least 20 different countries.
“Before we took AIME over, our first port of call was lapsed exhibitors… and we listened,” Pearce explains. “Criticisms that were levelled at AIME really came down to a lack of decent buyers. By answering that question, we could begin to draw a very clear line to ROI, and now every exhibitor has hosted buyers as part of their package.”
Fully hosted buyers will have to commit to 32 meetings across the two days, where pre-matched, scheduled meetings are based on both buyer and seller preferences. And to ensure buyers mean business (there’s no such thing as a free lunch), there will be an Uber-like rating system in place for exhibitors to rate their meetings with buyers (and vice versa) at the end of the show.
“With this data we will be able to improve the match-making system over time,” Pearce says.
Here are a few more interesting details to this year’s event:
AIME has partnered with PCMA, ICCA, SITE and Meetings & Events Australia (MEA) to create a comprehensive day of “outcome-based learning” on Monday 18 February, before the two days of trade. While PCMA has helped to produce the lion’s share of content, ICCA will run its Business Exchange at AIME – however this is a closed session for members only. MEA is also running a two-day leadership workshop (18-19 Feb) for an additional cost of AU$330. There’s also a sensory pop-up experience with Guide Dogs Australia that will add an experiential element.
Monday’s Knowledge Exchange has already proven popular – which is good news for those of you who have already secured your place. AIME organisers sent out an alert earlier this week notifying attendees that knowledge sessions in the morning are completely booked out, while the afternoon is close to reaching full capacity – and that’s after extra seats were added to meet demand. Personal and professional learning seems to be at the top of the agenda for many.
Meanwhile, 30-minute presentations will be delivered on the show floor throughout the event (19-20 Feb) as part of the new ‘Ideas Academy’.
Sustainable focus in expanded venue
This year’s event will have a renewed focus on sustainability, with green initiatives showcased by the host venue, Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre (MCEC); Decorative Events & Exhibitions, creators of the new exhibitor stands that are built with recyclable natural materials such as timber; and Harry the Hirer, which is building bespoke infrastructure with as minimal waste as possible.
“We’re extremely proud to have strong partnerships that have shared values in contributing positively to our environment,” says Jay Martens, event director, Talk2 Media & Events. “As part of our new vision we applied rigorous curation in all aspects of our planning, which includes setting our sights far beyond 2019 – forming the foundation for AIME events in years to come.”
MCEC is first convention centre in the world to be awarded a 6-Star Green Star environmental rating and over the past three years has reduced carbon emissions per square metre by 16 per cent – this included replacing more than 600 light fittings with energy-efficient alternatives.
AIME will also provide an opportunity to explore the venue’s AU$200 million expansion, which opened in July last year. This includes an additional 9,000sqm of flexible space, a multipurpose theatre, and a gala banquet room. Innovative technology and food experiences are also on the cards.
As well as a welcome party on Monday evening, AIME organisers have also added a more casual networking event on Tuesday evening, known as the Asia Street Food Festival. Held along South Wharf Promenade, the event will be open to all attendees and will feature a range of pop-up food stalls and container bars serving cuisine inspired by the region’s diverse street food markets – think dumplings, satay, Korean fried chicken, and pad Thai.
Pearce concludes: “Networking, knowledge and commerce – the right mix should give sufficient ROI for attendees to say this year’s AIME was worth my time.”
Biz Events Asia will be reporting live from AIME next week. We look forward to seeing you there!