Buyers pack AIBTM’s Education Day in Baltimore

Reed Travel Exhibitions’ inaugural North American meetings and incentive tradeshow, AIBTM, opened yesterday with a 12-session Education Day “many of which were standing room only,” according to programme organiser Erica Keogan.
Reed claimed 1,500 pre-registered buyers had signed up for the show at the Baltimore Convention Center in Maryland.
PCMA achieved a 64 per cent uplift in attendance (compared to 2010 in Montreal) at its annual Education Conference which was co-located with AIBTM. The association claimed 600 delegates registered to attend.
ICCA drew over 150 attendees for its opening session on ‘Penetrating the US Outbound Meetings Market’. Panelists included Michel Couturier, head of representation agency Marketing Challenges International.

“The North American market requires your presence 24/7,” Couturier stressed. “Going to one trade show isn’t enough.” He emphased the scale of the US meetings market, with 20,000 associations employing staff and 1,500 of them operating international meetings.
The advice from Mexico Tourist Board’s Eduard Chaillo was: “Learn to speak the language of the US planner and event their client; the main thing is ‘empathy’. Become a strategic partner”.
ICCA North America’s Joanne Joham advised international agencies, destinations and venues to “start trying to attract the smaller meetings and establish a trust basis”.
Cultural and commercial practices were discussed in detail with many differences noted in approaches to risk management and pricing models between the US and the rest of the world.

Strategic adviser to US associations, Terrance Barkan of Globalstrat urged international industry players to understand the US mindset, for example when marketing lesser known destinations.
On the upside he underlined how vast the US market was: “You can’t spit in Washington without hitting an association”. He added that the US was also very price competitive.

The German Convention Bureau shared one of its tactics for working the US market: client advisory panels.

Eugenia Solano attended the session as  representative of the Costa Rica Bureau of incentive organisers. “We are here to take advantage of our country’s ICCA membership for the first time and are enjoying the education sessions,” he said.
Other well attended sessions on day one included ‘MPI Global Training on the Road and ‘Strategic Meetings Management Supplier Engagement’.
Amarosa Gruess, Oslo Convention Bureau Norway said a key take-away was: “Don’t try to push your product on the clients and try to research better”.
Education continues at AIBTM when the exhibition opens today, 22 June, with four morning seminars and three to follow on Thursday 23 June.
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Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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