What were the main takeaways from last year’s show and how did it influence plans for engineering this year’s edition?
After every edition, we conduct research to gauge the feedback from both buyers and suppliers. It’s imperative that the results are analysed and used to learn from the event and see how we can continue to improve and evolve to deliver value to all our customers
We trialled an additional service with our corporate meeting planners last year – an extension to what we already do in matching relevant appointments. So successful was this ‘matchmaking’ service that it will be introduced for all hosted buyers this year.
Our matchmaking capabilities provide tailored recommendations of suppliers that buyers could or should meet with, based on information provided about their business objectives at the time of registration, specifically the events or meetings they are looking to source for during the time in Barcelona. It is similar to systems used in online retail where the vendor makes suggestions or based on your buying history or searches and, using algorithms, similar brands and products are shown or recommended.
The outcome of the trial last year showed many of those involved made appointments with suppliers they didn’t realise were on the show floor, which resulted in some exhibitors receiving more appointments from buyers they would not have otherwise met.
At the same time, the process we call Mutual Match provides both buyers and suppliers with a diary of appointments that matches their event goals in terms of business to place or customer prospects to sell to.
We have made it easier for exhibitors to manage their appointment diaries before arriving in Barcelona and have also invested in a new event app that provides data capture functionality via use of a smartphone instead of needing to use a separate scanner.
How is the show changing for 2016?
Barcelona has further invested in the infrastructure of the city and opened a new high speed metro line that will take attendees directly from the airport to the Fira GranVia. The route connects with all terminals and trains will run approximately every seven minutes.
For the first time, EventMB will partner with ibtm world to further evolve the Technology and Innovation Watch Award, showcasing innovative international companies shaping the future of events. With a record 61 entries from 20 countries, we look forward to announcing the winners in Barcelona.
The Innovation Zone again is expected to have many new exhibitors, featuring interactive experiences, demonstrating solutions, applications and technologies all geared to solving specific meetings and events industry challenges.
Other initiatives include providing exhibitors with a personal concierge before, during and after the event.
How has the approach to the education at the show changed?
Last year the Knowledge Village was brought down to the show floor, and that proved to be a great success. This year the Village has new creatives and a circus theme. We researched our audience in far more detail this year asking what they wanted to hear about, what was ‘keeping them awake at night’ and where could we help in terms of delivering really useful content. The result is an innovative, immersive conference programme.
Recurring themes from the research identified the following topics:
1. Safety, Security and Risk Management – In today’s turbulent world, crisis management, security issues and safety topics are high on the agenda.
2. Innovation, Disruption & Technology – What is shaking up the sector?
3. Professional Development/Staff recruitment and retention – Issues relating to work/life balance, how to retain quality staff, inspirational leadership techniques form the agenda.
4. Client Engagement – Social media, case studies, networking tools and marketing feature in this theme.
5. The impact of Brexit on the meetings industry – This will be addressed from many sides, including implications for others around the world.
This year’s ibtm world Industry Trends Watch report will again be delivered by Rob Davidson, MD MICE Knowledge, on the opening morning of the show and again for exhibitors the next morning.
It seems that ibtm world is even more prominent in the Reed portfolio now, with its central positioning strengthened and some of the regional shows now adopting the table top format. Is there room for more evolution in the portfolio?
Our portfolio rebrand that took place a year ago has provided clarity about the individual events and their specific propositions for both buyers and suppliers. EIBTM, as was, and now ibtm world has always been the global event and it’s position and prominence should always remain as the flagship of the portfolio and the largest gathering of meetings professionals annually.
How is your relationship developing with the host city?
One of the big changes to the logistics of the show this year is that Barcelona has further invested in the infrastructure of the city and opened a new high speed metro.
Of course Barcelona Convention Bureau also sponsors The Welcome Reception (29 November). This event kicks-off our networking programme and it’s themed to celebrate the Catalonia year of European Gastronomy, calling it Deliciously Barcelona. The reception will feature different zones and activities dedicated to Catalan products, the people and places.
Facilitated by Barcelona, we also have the Meetings Leadership Summit taking place this year at Camp Nou, home to FC Barcelona.
Talking numbers: What would you aim for as a ‘good result’?
We hope to see similar numbers to last year, so about 15,500 industry professionals on site during the week.
Exact numbers are subject to an independent audit. We should see some 3,000 exhibitors. We consider a ‘good result’ the comments received during and after ibtm world from all those who attend because our strategy is to focus on delivering quality over quantity.
What are your key charitable initiatives this year?
It has long been an ambition of ours to develop a recognisable charitable event in ibtm world and we are delighted to have signed an agreement that brings the now famous MPI Rendezvous to Barcelona. Held at Opium Mar (why go for anything less than the city’s top nightspot), the ticketed event will raise money for The MPI Foundation, proceeds from the event to be used on scholarships, grants and pan-industry research.
What are the big industry talking points and main trends likely to be rising up for attention at the show?
Personalisation and flexibility are the new keys for all participants. Hosted Buyers want a specific experience and we strive to provide them with more flexibility. We ask them to provide more specific information on what they are looking for, and we use this information with detailed algorithms to define recommendations of business contacts. Hopefully that throws up surprises, and enables buyers to meet people they would not have otherwise.
Another trend is the continuing advancements and innovation that technology brings to this sector. Meetings planners across the globe are placing more emphasis on incorporating the latest technological inventions into their meetings and events.
Cyber security is becoming an increasingly important issue among MICE professionals; over 44% of technology company CEOs regard information security (cyber) risk as the biggest risk to their organisation.
Rob Davidson’s research also concluded that fostering innovation and implementing disruptive technologies are top strategic priorities and a key strategy for growth. Over 50% of technology CEOs are devoting significant capital to product development.
Any special advice to visitors planning their trip to Barcelona?
We believe the real value comes from pre-planning. Everything is on www.ibtmworld.com under the visiting section, but the journey begins with the Oneworld Airline Alliance, our partner, who has special fares available up to seven days before and after ibtm world. Then there are the special hotel options and rates.
Agreeing a set of key objectives for the show is important to really achieve a return on investment and using the show app will help keep all of this in order as well as give an opportunity to connect with friends and peers onsite, too.
The full education programme is also available online and the Networking Hour on 30 November 18.00 – 19.00hrs.
Do you have contingency plans in place for unforeseen ocurrences, having had volcano scares and strikes in the past to deal with?
We have an executive council gathering twice a year and security is always on the agenda. We are fortunate that Barcelona is a very joined up city in this way. The convention bureau has direct access to all emergency services quickly. Pacific World, our DMC, is used to dealing with large groups of people and they are also involved in the contingency plans.
The risks in the venue, which are managed by our on-site management plan, are worked through with the city and at a high level in Reed Exhibitions. For anything outside the venue we work with all of our suppliers and partners on crisis management strategies. We mostly look at process and the communication channels identifying roles and responsibilities to ensure the structure and response is pre-planned.
Where will you be the week after ibtm world?
Other than enjoying a relaxing weekend in Barcelona with my wife (its great to have her calming influence after such as hectic week), the week after is spent on reviewing the show, sending many thank you emails and follow-ups as well as sharing many of the great stories from the week. Then I have to focus quickly on AIME and ibtm Latin America as I am also the senior exhibition director for both events