The region’s premier meetings and incentives event, the Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo (AIME), will expand beyond the show’s traditional industries to incorporate business travel for the very first time, when the event opens its doors next Tuesday, 26 February.
The move will see more buyers and exhibitors from the business travel sphere attending AIME, as well as a dedicated, business travel stream in the show’s education program, AIME Knowledge, sponsored by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE).
Sally de Swart, Reed Travel Exhibition’s Director for AIME, said the new addition is the direct result of feedback from previous shows and will increase the return on investment for exhibitors and buyers.
“In 2012, 42 per cent of Hosted Buyers told us they organised business travel and 15 per cent were corporate buyers – this clearly revealed potential for an increased focus on business travel at AIME,” Ms de Swart said.
“Adding business travel has allowed AIME to attract a wider range of buyers and visitors, including those responsible for the procurement and management of business travel programs, and increase the return on investment for our exhibitors.”
Exhibitors have welcomed the addition. Big names including: Flight Centre Group Travel; Port Douglas Incentive Group; Virgin Australia; and Starwood Hotels & Resorts, have indicated business travel as an important in factor driving their attendance at AIME in 2013.
Daniella Tonetto, Regional Director of Sales & Marketing, Starwood Pacific Hotels & Resorts, recognised the value of this development.
“Business travel contributes significantly to Starwood’s total revenue stream, and the importance of this segment has increased as globalisation has created a new global travel pattern, and driven economic growth in emerging markets,” Ms Tonetto said.
“To have another platform to directly reach this target market and showcase our extensive corporate services and SPG loyalty program is invaluable to us as a business.”
Business travel buyers that will attend the show in 2013 include Corporate International Travel & Tours, The Lido Group, Donna Barlow Travel, E-Oz Energy Skills Australia, and The Global Travel Movement Limited.
Benjamin Weinmann, Director of Global Sales & Strategic Partnerships for the Lido Group, said the amalgamation of business travel and events is an excellent initiative of AIME.
“Agencies like The Lido Group have diversified to include corporate travel. Many of our professional conference organiser and event management clientele have Lido managing their corporate spend as well. Being able to work with suppliers of all segments in the one place is a major plus for AIME,” Mr Weinmann said.
In partnership with ACTE, AIME has also added four education sessions focused on business travel to the AIME Knowledge program which will serve to attract more visitors responsible for booking business travel to AIME.
Andrew Kelly, Regional Director - ACTE Australasia, said that the education program is important to the industry and will be key to attracting more business travel buyers to AIME.
“Previously, regular business travel and that of meetings and events were managed by quite separate areas within an organisation. We are now seeing travel programs of corporate and government evolve to span both,” Mr Kelly said.
“It is therefore important that the individuals responsible for the procurement and management of these programs and their suppliers or partners keep abreast of essential topics, current best practices and progressive innovation.
“The AIME knowledge sessions on business travel provide an opportunity to do this, offering engaging sessions with intelligent and topical insights from industry experts for attendees to directly apply to optimise their travel and meetings/events programs. I have no doubt this professional development opportunity will be received well by the industry.”
AIME will take place from 26-27 February at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.
For more information about AIME 2013, visit www.aime.com.au.