IBTM America, where meetings, events and incentives industry decision makers meet for global business adventures, is taking place in Nashville June 15 – 17. The M+E team spoke with Event Director Jaime McAuley to learn all about this year's show.
M+E: What’s your background with ibtm america?
JM: I started working at Reed Exhibitions in 2006 as a marketing coordinator, and in 2014 I was appointed to the role of event director for ibtm america. From my first day, I have loved the culture at Reed; I enjoy working with all of my colleagues and I’m passionate about what we do. My passion translates to engagement, knowledge and working hard, which have allowed me to excel within my career at Reed. This year marks my tenth year at Reed Exhibitions and I look forward to ten more!
M+E: Last year ibtm america introduced a new meeting pod format. Was this new meeting pod format successful?
JM: Feedback conducted during ibtm america 2015 and post-show revealed a 95% satisfaction rate among our exhibitors who felt that the new pod format signified the ever changing needs of the industry and that following their 2015 experience, they were likely to exhibit at ibtm america 2016. The meeting pod format is simple and time-efficient; there is no stand building or freight shipping, exhibitors just supply a graphic to illustrate their product and to brand their pod, then they are ready for business.
M+E: You also introduced a mutual match appointment system at ibtm america 2015. How have you improved on this system from last year?
JM: Last year, 64% of the appointments at ibtm america were a result of mutual match between exhibitors and Hosted Buyers; 96% of requested appointment slots were filled on an average number of appointments per exhibitor of 29.
This year, we have taken a step forward and put our focus on perfecting the system even further. ibtm america 2016 will introduce 100% mutual match business appointments, the first for an event of it’s kind in the US. Our mutual match system is a unique method of ensuring that both parties at ibtm america have control of their time and investment at the event, knowing they have back-to-back appointments that are totally at their own request, matching their business objectives. Exhibitors will have the first opportunity to review Hosted Buyer profiles and make their own meeting preferences, identifying the Hosted Buyers that are relevant to their business needs. When it’s the Hosted Buyer’s turn to select, they will see the details of the exhibitor that requested to meet with them and they can then accept that meeting.
M+E: How is everything coming together?
JM: Our Hosted Buyer applications have only gone live a couple weeks ago, but for the first time this year we allowed buyers to pre-register for ibtm america. We received applications from hundreds of corporate, agency and association buyers and we have also had a large number of exhibitors register, which is not surprising considering the 95% satisfaction rate from last year’s event. ibtm america 2016 is set to debut it’s 100% mutual match design among an elite group of exhibitors and Hosted Buyers.
Corporate Hosted Buyers that have pre-registered for ibtm america 2016 will attend from companies such as Nature’s Way, Dell Inc., Metlife, Inc., Principal Financial Group, Tetra Tech, Inc. and The Wall Street Journal. Pre-registered incentive/agency Hosted Buyers will attend from companies such as American Express, Grass Roots, Meetings and Incentives Worldwide, Inc, and Peak Performance Distinctive. Association Hosted Buyers will attend from associations such as the American Association of Retired Persons, American Bar Association, California Alarm Association, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, American Public Human Services Association, Penn State University, and UC Berkeley. \
M+E: What’s new at ibtm america this year?
JM: In addition to delivering 100% mutual match business appointments between exhibitors and Hosted Buyers for the first time, we have organized a Discovery Day for all attendees which will give them the opportunity to explore Nashville while networking with industry peers. The ibtm america Knowledge Forum will include CEU Accredited Sessions and experiential sessions covering thought provoking topics, such as “Digital Security” and “Meetings Design,” delivered by experts within the meetings and events industry. The first speaker we have confirmed is Jim Spellos, media expert and president of Meeting U. In his session, Spellos, he will cover the most important trends in the digital age including digital security. Spellos will provide insight into how to use social media most effectively, as well as which mobile apps are the most efficient and productive. This year we are also introducing a new central hub area of the show floor which will not only be a networking area, but will have live demo stations for immersive and hands-on experiences, updates on event technology, and provide our exhibitors with the opportunity to showcase their product in person to Hosted Buyers.
M+E: Could you give us more details on Discovery Day?
JM: This year we worked with the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp to organize a Discovery Day that will provide our attendees with a true taste of Nashville, as well as plenty of time to network. Discovery Day is all about giving our attendees the opportunity to experience the host town, destination and city. When buyers and suppliers travel to many events, they arrive at the airport, go to the venue, the hotel, and when it’s finished they head straight back to the airport—the exhibition may be held at a great city but they never get to experience it. Discovery Day helps brings buyers and suppliers together in a fun way from the start.
Discovery Day will begin with a networking luncheon with Lyric Crew, a group of seasoned songwriters and studio musicians. Exhibitors and Hosted Buyers will engage in a unique team-bonding experience in the form of a songwriting activity to compose the ibtm america jingle and theme song. Details for the remainder of the day will be announced soon, but there will definitely be lots of excitement and opportunity to see what Nashville has to offer!
M+E: What other opportunities does ibtm america offer its attendees?
JM: Following the rebrand from AIBTM to ibtm america 2015, we implemented a new event format that had great results. The focus of this new event format is on creating an “industry community” that does business, networks and parties together, with all exhibitors and Hosted Buyers staying at the same hotel, which this year is the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. ibtm america creates a community for those 2.5 days that really does help create and build business connections for everyone involved; staying together at the same hotel means attendees can create their own additional meetings whether they be at breakfast or during their down time. There really are so many connection points and all in the luxury of a top meeting resort and of course the downtown fun of Nashville itself!
M+E: What does Nashville offer as a host city?
JM: Nashville is one of the hottest convention cities in America right now and whilst its very roots are in music (the Country Music Hall of Fame), there is also history, the arts, food - and of course a variety of venues to benefit this industry, all of which provided us with exciting ideas for Discovery Day. We will be there in one of its best months (June) and no doubt the town will be buzzing.
We hope that many of our attendees will want to either arrive early or stay on to explore for themselves, whether it’s to spend more time in downtown Nashville or at our hosting venue, The Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, as this resort is certainly also a one of kind in the USA. From golf links to a spa, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, jogging and fitness trails and a high tech gym, plus 15 award winning restaurants, there will be something for everyone. And if you want some fun facts – the average temperature in the resort’s atriums is 72 degrees, there are more than 2,000 guest rooms and 50,000 tropical plants plus an indoor river that runs through the resort for ¼ mile. So set in 47 acres, there certainly is a lot to offer all those joining us for ibtm america 2016.
M+E: What piece of advice would you offer to attendees, returning or new, to make the most out of ibtm america?
JM: We would suggest that all our attendees plan ahead to ensure that they take advantage of what we have to offer. There will be so many things to do so it’s important that both buyers and suppliers come with a clear idea of what they are looking to achieve. Our 100% mutual match system puts them in the drivers seat, allowing them to select who is relevant to their business needs and set up a diary of up 30 appointments. Everyone will also be invited on a dynamic Discovery Day that will provide them with opportunities to explore the thriving city of Nashville and network with their peers, an exclusive and close-knit industry community that works and plays together that they can be a part of.