Inaugural IBTM Asia Pacific event will kick off in Singapore in 2020 – but does the industry need another trade show?
IBTM, part of Reed Travel Exhibitions, has announced the launch of a new business event, IBTM Asia Pacific, set to take place on 6-8 April 2020 in Singapore at the Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre.
The two-day event will connect buyers and sellers for pre-scheduled, one-to-one business meetings, education and networking.
IBTM portfolio director, Shane Hannam, says: “Launching a new event for the Asia Pacific market is not only exciting for the IBTM brand, it is also supported by the fact that the region’s business events industry is expected to see the highest growth rate in the world; reaching $441.1bn by 2025.”
He adds: “It’s a market we know very well, and our research has shown that there’s genuine demand for a regionally-focused event, both from our existing customer base but also from the industry in general.”
Reed Travel Exhibitions managed the Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo (AIME) in Melbourne for more than decade as part of its IBTM portfolio. When its management contract ended in 2018, following a decline in participation and criticism from industry, the company did not participate in the tender to continue managing the event, which is owned by the Melbourne Convention Bureau.
A revamped version of AIME was launched in February this year. Now managed by Talk2 Media & Events, the show received mixed reviews, but the industry applauded efforts to rebuild a regional event for APAC.
Speaking to Biz Events Asia following the IBTM announcement, Talk2 Media & Events CEO, Matt Pearce, says he and the team are “still absorbing the news”.
“This will create more competition, but people will vote with their feet and with their wallets,” he says. “We received a strong response to our Hosted Buyer programme this year and we’re in a good place for 2020.
“We respect IBTM’s capabilities, so we wont become complacent. We’re still in the rebuilding phase and we’ll continue to focus on delivering ROI for both buyers and sellers.”
While competition is healthy, the market is becoming increasingly crowded.
ITB Asia recently announced the launch of MICE Show Asia 2019, a new three-day event that will be co-located at Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre on 16-18 October. Then there’s IBTM China in Beijing, IT&CM Asia in Bangkok, ILTM Asia Pacific in Singapore, and Get Global in Sydney – as well as a string of annual association conferences from the likes of SACEOS, UFI, PCMA, AFECA and IAPCO.
So, does the business events industry in APAC really need another regional event?
“There’s certainly a lot going on,” says Lisa Hopkins, vice president, APAC industry relations and global network at BCD Meetings & Events. “But, the APAC region is big enough to support multiple shows.”
Hopkins says Talk2 Media deserves support for its work in “re-energising” AIME and the return of Reed Travel Exhibitions will likely create a power play.
“It’s impossible to be present at every show,” she says. “Even international shows, like IMEX and IBTM World in Barcelona, attract buyers and suppliers from APAC, so there’s a risk the market will become diluted.”
When it comes to the crunch, BI Worldwide’s head of events APJ/ China, Marine Debatte, says IBTM has bigger brand power.
“IBTM has a different positioning, and we are in need of a high-quality industry event in the region – and Singapore is the perfect place to gather the industry,” she says.
“Travelling to Frankfurt or Barcelona can be tough, so having an internationally-branded event in the region is more respectful of our time and how busy we are.”
For Debatte, an IBTM-branded event in Asia Pacific will raise the profile of professionals in the region.
“This means Asia is rising, not only as a destination to host business events, but also from a buying perspective,” she says. “Now we’ll have a bigger seat at table as buyers.”
Ultimately, the organiser with the best connection to the APAC market will win the race.
Speaking to Biz Events Asia, Hannam says Reed has a strong operational base in Singapore and plans to leverage its IBTM brand to strengthen business connections.
“Our global research tells us there is an appetite for education around events in the APAC region – and comprehensive education is a pillar of the IBTM portfolio, along with our ability to deliver a Hosted Buyer programme.”
Hannam says IBTM Asia Pacific will allow the company to implement a “strategic shift” for IBTM China as the market matures. He says the transition to focus on China as a separate market will begin in 2020, however the show will retain some “international flavouring”.
IBTM Asia Pacific will be managed by Michael Jones, based in London. The marketing and Hosted Buyer programme will also be managed by the existing team in London and supported by Reed Exhibition’s teams in Singapore and Japan.
The event will be preceded by a day of local tours for international buyers and an evening drinks reception. Full details of the education sessions and networking programme will be released in coming weeks.