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A new AIMESHOW PREVIEWThe Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo (AIME) in Melbourne, Australia, has a new Event Directoras well as some new initiatives for 2011. CMWcaught up with Sally de Swart.January 2011Conference+Meetings World23How did you get into the eventsindustry?My career in the events industry started 12years ago in Sydney, where I worked for anevent organiser and a speaker bureau. I returned to the UK and joined ReedExhibitions and worked on events primarilyfor the Aerospace and Defence industry. I moved to Clarion Exhibitions for a coupleof years to run a defence event, howeverjumped at the chance to come back toSydney, rejoin Reed Exhibitions and becomeEvent Director for AIME.How old is the show and howmany visitors does it attract eachyear?This year will be AIME's 19th year. 2010saw us breaking records with 513 hostedbuyers from over 33 countries, which was up9.7 per cent on 2009. A total of 3,101visitors attended the event to meet with over800 exhibitors with 195 being first-timeexhibitors. At last count, over 50 per cent ofqualified hosted buyers will be attending theevent for the first time, which is pleasingnews for our exhibitors.How has AIME developed since itsinception?AIME is the premier exhibition for themeetings and events industry in the Asia-Pacific region because it is evolving with theindustry and implementing new initiatives tokeep it fresh. It also continues to giveattendees a quality return-on-investment.AIME's excellence has also beenrecognised with many accolades over its 18 years, and in 2009 it was awarded'Exhibition of the Year' at the prestigiousMeetings and Events Australia Industryawards for the second consecutive year.What is the international /national split of exhibitors andvisitors to the show? Do you planto attract more in the future?Last year saw 66 per cent of hosted buyerscoming from the domestic market inAustralia and 34 per cent international. Withregards to exhibitors, 45 per cent ofexhibitors were from Australia and 55 percent were international.Who do you consider AIME's maincompetitors? How do you plan tocompete?For exhibitors there are so many differentactivities and shows which pull at themarketing budget; quality and ROI needs tobe key. The global financial crisis has forcedmany businesses, including those in themeetings and events industry, to really lookat their value proposition and what they areoffering. AIME is well-aware that beingadaptable and innovative has been the keyto our success and has allowed us toweather ever-changing economic conditions.Each year, the team works hard to createnew initiatives, attractions, seminars andtechnology which offer visitors, exhibitorsand hosted buyers greater opportunities toconnect, learn and do business. As thelargest show of its kind in the region, AIMEis core to many companies' marketing plansfor visibility both in terms of marketing andbusiness relationships.Research conducted during our 2010event found that 93 per cent of hostedbuyers had placed, or were likely to place,business as a result of attending AIME.What challenges do you face forthe future of the show?AIME's main challenge is staying dynamicand continuing to attract new exhibitors andquality hosted buyers. We continually workhard to keep the event fresh. Delivering an event that meets anddelivers the objectives of every audienceinvolved is also one of the challenges. We work hard to meet the varied and everchanging needs of our customers . What interesting developmentswill we see at the 2011 edition ofthe show?This year, there are a number of changesand improvements to AIME 2011 whilststill delivering to our attendees the samehigh quality looking event that they areaccustomed to, with a well organised freshprogramme and professional team ofpeople to assist them. Some of the excitingdevelopments are:New education opportunities: The Master Class seminars at AIME 2011will have a fresh new look and feel. Therewill be four master classes with a line-up ofspeakers delivering targeted content tomatch the needs and challenges of ourindustry. This year, we have introduced two'Leaders Forums', taking place eachmorning of the two-day event. A panel ofindustry leaders will address the challengesand benefits in securing sponsorship andindustry entrepreneurs will provide insightsinto how they made it to the top. The Business Events Forum will also runagain and Kati Quigley, Director of EventMarketing for the CMG Events team atMicrosoft, will be the keynote speaker.Attracting Hosted Buyers:We are continually on the lookout for waysto increase the number of quality hostedbuyers. This year, we have introduced the'Refer a Friend' programme. This giveshosted buyers the opportunity to refer a friend to be part of the hosted buyerprogramme and if they successfully qualify,their own registration fee will be waived. Offering the best show experienceto exhibitors: We have set up a hosted buyer messagecentre, so that all exhibitors will have theopportunity to communicate with hostedbuyers during the show by posting a message on this board. In addition, AIME is introducing a post-show online messagingsystem allowing all pre-scheduledappointment (PSA)exhibitors theopportunity tocontact all hostedbuyers post-eventvia the hosted buyerand exhibitor zones.AIME 2011 takesplace at the MelbourneConvention and ExhibitionCentre, 15-16 February.Sally de Swart

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