With a rigorous approach on vetted buyers for AIME 2019, how are you getting the word out to international buyers and is it a hard sell?
Our strategy has been to listen to the industry – what they want to see more of and what they want to leave behind. This has meant the last six months I’ve spent a lot of my time traveling and speaking with international buyers from around the globe.
A really important message we’ve been sharing is that AIME is for the whole Asia Pacific region, and not just an Australian event. This shift is becoming a true representation of where AIME is moving towards.
Word of this shift has been travelling fast and already we’ve confirmed quality buyers from across 32 different countries, with 55 per cent having never attended AIME before and 60 per cent originating from outside of Australia.
AIME recently announced news of the event’s meetings preferences opening, which was paired with a new software partnership announcement. What makes this one different from previous years?
First and foremost, we are deeply committed to delivering value with our scheduled meetings. Feedback from the industry was that previous meetings had often been poorly matched, meeting requests were left unaccepted and that at times people didn’t turn up to their meetings at all.
We have been drilling down our process to ensure that AIME meetings are meaningful. We have sourced and brought in quality buyers from across the world, aligning their events needs with exhibitors abilities and we have also implemented financial repercussions for missed appointments.
Furthermore, we’re working to open up scheduled meetings earlier than ever before – so exhibitors and buyers have time to do background work and prepare for these appointments before they meet.
We have also already opened the 2019 meeting preferences, as we’ve been confirming hosted buyers to sign up earlier, so they can make the most of this crucial meetings preferences period. It’s all a lot earlier than the industry is used to.
A neat feature of the meetings software extends to how appointments roll out on event day, taking into consideration the show’s floor plan and pre-empting travel time between each meeting.
Previously, delegates had expressed that there often wasn’t enough time to walk to their next scheduled meeting, contributing to missed opportunities. This new meetings software ensures that missed meetings will be rescheduled automatically, creating a more seamless event experience.
It’s simple smarts that will make a big impact on business outcomes.
The 2019 event will see new stand designs for exhibitors. Why did you take this approach? And does it help create a level playing field for exhibitors?
We really wanted to break away from the tired presentation that you often see on so many show floors and to move away from the use of an Octanorm model. Essentially, we wanted to allow brands to exhibit in a premium way, at a fraction of the cost of previous years.
We also know that it can take up to six months to get a custom stand designed and built. This absorbs a lot of resource, in terms of time, energy and budget. Using one supplier like Decorative Events & Exhibitions allows stands to be designed and completed in as little as four weeks from sign off.
That being said, we appreciate that the ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ won’t be suitable for all exhibitors and will continue to offer the option for those who want to design and build their own stand.
What was the thinking behind the reimagined Knowledge Program for 2019?
That it had to be different. We also want to make the knowledge day part of the overall AIME experience. To that end, we opened up attendance to exhibitors as well as buyers and media. It makes it more inclusive for the whole community and offers opportunities to build shared experiences.
In the program we’ll look at engagement beyond mere content – from ideas on how to challenge the meeting norms and create a culture of innovation, to recognising our unconscious biases. All topics will touch on provoking traditional thinking.
For example, the Guide Dog Victoria’s Dialogue in the Dark session will be presented as an immersive experience. Dialogue in the Dark gives people the chance to challenge their own limits, overcome boundaries, and discover hidden potential through experiencing the world as a person who has blindness or low vision.
Australia is an expensive country and a long way from everywhere – how do you overcome these barriers for international buyers?
Australia is a long way from Europe, but it’s not that far from its neighbours in Asia. In terms of time zones and travel time, Australia is only a couple of hours away. We talk about AIME being ‘when’ Asia Pacific meets – and we really mean that. It’s not about where, it’s about ‘when’ the industry gets together to do business in the region, and that just happens to be in Melbourne.
Strategically, we are focusing on a positive return on investment across time, budgets and opportunity. Asia Pacific is the fastest growing region in the business events industry and it’s really exciting to be right in the middle of it.
Ultimately, international buyers can be confident that we’re bringing the right people, selling and buying, to our show floor who are ready to do business.
Already this is evident from the confirmed number of quality delegates we have attending from around the world.
Having said that air travel is on the cusp of some major changes, such as London to Perth in 16hrs with more routes to come – do you see the Australian proposition being radically altered in the next decade due to shorter direct flights to Europe?
The advancement of technology has, and is still, changing the nature of how we conduct business -particularly with aviation becoming cheaper and faster.
Although I can’t predict exactly what this will look like, I anticipate travel will become less of a boundary when considering your next location for an event. Already more routes are opening up between Australia and Asia with Darwin becoming an important gateway. Also, Indonesia is only a short flight away, and is the fourth most populous country in the world. Based on this, I think Australia will continue to be an important hub in the region.
How will AIME stay competitive with increased competition from niche tradeshows?
We have to deliver a successful first show and we will never be complacent in our end result.
We will always look for new ways to improve, assess and test what we can do differently. We will also continue to listen to the industry and search for new ways to enhance all aspects of the event. This will extend from when delegates register interest with AIME, to when they set foot on the show room floor. All touch points need to be highly personalised and world class.
This approach has allowed us to be confident that we are delivering the most dynamic AIME in 2019.