Interview with Michael Lyons, Reed Travel Exhibitions, AIBTM Exhibition Director.
CIM: For a long time Europeans have considered the U.S. as a “closed market” with Americans focusing on domestic meetings. Now that North America has three meetings shows, has this changed?
Michael Lyons: Since our launch in 2011, AIBTM has established itself as an international show with a strong representation of both regional and international exhibitors on the show floor. This attendance is also mirrored in the amount of interest we receive from both regional and international Hosted Buyers who apply to attend the show.
Recent research carried out by Reed Travel Exhibitions confirmed that 64% of U.S. buyers attending AIBTM were actively seeking to meet with European suppliers. In addition to this, 47% of U.S. buyers were found to have a direct interest in placing business in Asia, 51% in placing business in Latin America, and 27% in the Middle East.
This year, we are delighted to welcome a number of international exhibitors to the show including, Vancouver Hotel Destination Association, Quickmobile, Costa Rica Tourist Board, Czech Tourist Authority, Dominican Republic Tourism Board, Hungarian Tourism PLC, Jamaica Tourist Board, Monaco Government Tourist & Convention Authority, Puerto Rico Convention Bureau, Moscow Exhibition and Convention Agency, GenieConnect, Star Travel DMC, Melia Hotels International, Cititravel, Madrid Visitors & Convention Bureau, Turespaña, Kuoni Travel,Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts and many others.
Will the terrible bombings in Boston aggravate the visa procedure?
We have all been left deeply saddened by the events that took place in Boston recently. This has, understandably, had a big effect on everyone in the city and indeed on the transport links across the country. At this point we would advise everyone travelling to Chicago for AIBTM to leave as much time as possible for visa applications, in addition to this, our team here at AIBTM will be working around the clock to ensure that this process runs as smoothly as possible.
AIBTM, the Americas Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition, moves from Baltimore to Chicago. How is the feedback of buyers and suppliers?
Feedback has been very positive regarding the move to Chicago, here is an example:
Ms. Vichaya Soonthornsaratoon, Director of Meetings Industry, Department of Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), and an exhibitor at AIBTM 2013 commented, “TCEB has been exhibiting at AIBTM for 3 consecutive years since the 1st show. The show has provided business opportunities for us to meet with potential buyers in the North American market. “
“Last year we met almost 40 prospective buyers at AIBTM, which is worth the distance we took to join this event. With the new location this year in Chicago and next year in Orlando, I’m sure AIBTM is and will always be a meaningful tradeshow that Thailand can be exposed to American clients. It drives the growth of meetings industry both in Asia and America.”
How many trade visitors and exhibitors do you expect compared to last year?
We do not predict attendance figures, however we can confirm that participation from both exhibitors and GCO’s has surpassed the figures from this time last year. We are also tracking well ahead in both Hosted Buyer and Trade Buyer registrations, which is great.
This year we have had increased levels of interest from the European, Asian and Latin American markets. To support this we have introduced a separate Market Focus Spotlight session for each to give exhibitors from these regions the opportunity to conduct exclusive networking with international and U.S. buyers who have specified an interest in placing business in these respective regions.
What is the share of the total attendance of the European delegation?
For AIBTM 2013 we have introduced a Spanish Pavilion and brought back the European Market Focus Spotlight session as a direct result of the interest that we have had from European exhibitors. As I have already mentioned, 64% of U.S. buyers attending the show are interested in placing business in Europe, creating great potential for business opportunities for our European exhibitors.
European exhibitors who have already signed up for the show include; Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts, Kuoni Travel, Turespana, Madrid Visitors & Convention Bureau, Cititravel, Melia Hotels International, Turismo Anduluz, Costa del Sol Convention Bureau, Malaga Convention Bureau, Tenerife Convention Bureau, Hungarian Tourism PLC, and Czech Tourism Authority.
In order to support our European exhibitors we will once again be running the Market Focus Spotlight on Europe session and will also have a Portuguese Stand on the show floor. The Market Focus Spotlight on Europe is an exclusive networking and business opportunity, which will take place within the Hosted Buyer Lounge and is available to all European exhibitors. Any participating European stand holder and their sharing partners will be provided with their own tabletop, so that they can engage with U.S. Hosted Buyers during the hour.
You run an extensive education program. Will the sessions be live streamed for those who cannot come to Chicago?
We have a great education programme lined up for the show this year and more details including a full line up of the programme can be found on the AIBTM website. This year we have 34 sessions each designed to promote engagement and discussion on some of the biggest industry issues. A selection of these sessions will be recorded and made available online following the show.
After its debut in Chicago from 11 to 13 June 2013, AIBTM will rotate between Chicago and Orlando through 2016. Why did you choose these two cities?
Our move to Chicago this year comes as a direct result of the valuable feedback that we receive from all of our stakeholders on an ongoing basis. This feedback confirmed that in order to maximise the business potential offered through AIBTM, we should follow the lead of many associations in the U.S. that move their events to a different place each year. This allows us a much greater level of flexibility to maximise the enormous potential, which Chicago can deliver to the exhibition in 2013.
As well as being the third largest city in the nation, Chicago is one of the key business gateway cities in the U.S. and a major hub in the global meetings industry. The city’s thriving business environment is further enhanced by its diversity of culture, arts and recreation, which makes it one of the most exciting, influential cities in the world. In 2014 AIBTM will take place in Orlando, and then alternate between the two cities. Both Chicago and Orlando are key gateway cities and are themselves major hubs for the meetings industry.
AIBTM, the Americas Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition, takes place from 11 to 13 June 2013 at McCormick Place in Chicago. www.aibtm.com