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March 2011Conference+Meetings World www.c-mw.net31With Reed Travel Exhibitions' Americas Incentive Business Travel and Meetings (AIBTM) exhibitioncoming to Baltimore, Maryland, for the first time in June, Vikki Carleytakes a look at what's on offer.Baltimore's biggestmarketing opportunityFamous for its crabcakes, the civil warof 1812 and celebrities such as actorEdward Norton and poet Edgar AllenPoe, Baltimore has many a string to its bow.The largest city and cultural centre of thestate of Maryland, Baltimore is locatedalong the tidal portion of the Patapsco River57km from Washington. Also known for itshometown hospitality and working-classresolve, Baltimore has evolved from port cityto steel town, to modern cultural centre.In the meetings market, Baltimore isn't aswell known. The city sits very low in theInternational Congress and ConventionAssociation (ICCA) worldwide and Latin andNorth America city rankings, at Nos. 231and 55 respectively, with seven internationalconventions. Winning AIBTM, however,could change all that. The exhibition is amajor coup for Baltimore. Visit Baltimore's CEO Tom Noonan said:"AIBTM will be the biggest sales andmarketing opportunity Baltimore has everhad. We want to be able to increase theperception within the worldwide meetingsmarketplace that Baltimore is a rich, savvymeetings destination capable of hostingmajor international meetings like AIBTM."With over 8,500 hotel rooms and anumber of large convention facilities, itcertainly has the infrastructure to attract bigconference business. The BaltimoreConvention Center, the host venue forAIBTM, is linked by a series of overheadwalkways to the Inner Harbour.Other meeting options include the FirstMariner Arena, which offers 11,000permanent seats on three levels, and TheTremont Grand, which includes 45,000square feet of space and 19 meeting rooms,making it one of Maryland's largest venues. According to research by LongwoodsTravel USA and Tourism Economics, thenumber of business travellers coming toBaltimore in 2009 was split evenly betweenday (1.9m) and overnight (1.8m) and thesetravellers stayed an average of 2.53 days.Total visitor spending reached US$4.1bn in 2009. Noonan said the major goal for VisitBaltimore is to increase the number ofinternational meetings and businesstravellers to the city. "With ease of access, a walkable hotel offering and a thrivingwaterfront, Baltimore really is a greatconvention city," he said.CITY FOCUSBaltimore's skylineEasy access Situated in the heart of the mid-Atlanticstates, Baltimore is easily accessible byplane, train or highway. Three majorairports serve the city and Baltimore'sPenn Station is one of Amtrak's busieststations, serving more than 855,000guests each year. Easy to get aroundAlthough nearly everything you maywant to do and see is within easywalking distance, you can also exploreour many one-of-a-kindneighbourhoods, museums andattractions via the fast, free and greenCharm City Circulator. This bus servicefeatures three routes, connecting you topopular attractions including theConvention Center, Baltimore's InnerHarbor and Historic Fell's Point.Excellent hotel choicesThere are 8,500 hotel rooms inwalking distance of the BaltimoreConvention Center, and thousandsmore just a short ride away. We featureall of the familiar major brands, suchas Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott,Kimpton, Radisson, Starwood, BestWestern and Choice, as well as anumber of independents.Major industries More than eight million people live inthe Baltimore/Washington metroplexproviding meeting professionals with a large population base from which todraw attendees. Major industry sectorsin the region include: healthcare,biotechnology, higher education,technology and defence, financialservices, and government.Four city USPs accordingto Visit Baltimore CEOTom Noonan:Reed Travel Exhibition's AIBTM is totake place at The BaltimoreConvention Centre, 21-23 June 2011.The organiser has said it will bring2,000 hosted buyers to the event, andhopes to attract more than 13,000meeting planners located within threehours drive of Baltimore.