ibtm world 2015: Networking and making connections

With the first edition of the freshly branded ibtm world in Barcelona taking place from November 17-19, senior exhibition director, ibtm world, Graeme Barnett exclusively shares all with Panayiotis Markides about the debut and what can be expected at the show. 

TTG: How does ibtm world differ from EIBTM? What has changed?

[With the mutual match appointment system at ibtm world, attendees] have an increasing say in who they want to meet with which further influences their business diary with a stronger focus on relevance to both parties, providing more control over who they meet with. Already rolled out at ibtm china, the mutual match appointment system is working well.

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Following on from the success of My Association | My Club, an initiative launched for the Association Sector last year, we have also implemented some changes around this year’s programme for corporate meeting planners. The emphasis here is on creating an improved individual experience for this group of planners based around business appointments, networking and learning. Research conducted earlier this year highlighted the continual need for corporate planners to meet and network peer-to-peer at the event, whilst keeping up to date in all that is new. We have added in a new Corporate Networking Reception in the Innovation Zone on Tuesday evening which can provide the backdrop of innovation and ideas. Meeting planners who are interested in applying to join this programme can do so via the ibtm world website.

Talking of innovation, we have made some changes to the annual Technology Watch Awards Program to incorporate the broader theme of innovation. The Technology and Innovation Watch Award 2015 will now illustrate the continuing evolution of the technology sector whilst recognising the significant contributions made by organisations as they look to innovate across the sector. At the same time, the submission and judging process has evolved with the 10 leading submissions shortlisted in advance of the event (by the judging panel) and will feature in the Innovation Zone , as one of the 2015 Top 10 Innovations identified with the potential to make a real impact on the industry. One of these will then be selected as the overall winner (also voted by the judging panel), and will benefit from a global promotion campaign, presence in the Innovation Zone and the opportunity to present their product in Barcelona.

We also have an exciting new venue for our Meetings Leadership Summit at El Born and a brand new look and feel for delivering education – all on the show floor and built around the newly created ACS Knowledge Village consisting of four purpose built and themed theatres designed to reflect the changing needs of meeting design. We will also be introducing seven new global themes to underpin our 2015 Knowledge Programme: Connections Mean Everything, Putting Meeting Design into Practice, Tools for Planner Productivity, Industry Engagement, Inspiration from Outside, and Innovative Events and Leading Lights for Leading Events.

TTG: How is ibtm world’s location in Barcelona a valuable asset to the show?

The stunning and vibrant city of Barcelona is the perfect destination for combining business with fantastic venues for networking and making connections, allowing our attendees to not only benefit from the formal business occasion but to enjoy the many social and less formal events that take place around Barcelona.

TTG: What can attendees from the MENA market look forward to at this year’s edition?

Suppliers can look forward to meeting with highly qualified buyers from around the world. We are currently on track to deliver some 4,000 Hosted Buyers.

Applications by the beginning of August were 88 per cent up on the same time last year and 47 per cent of those qualified so far are new to the show.  Just a few companies attending this year include International Society of Nephrology (ISN), International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (ADFIAP), Wheeling Around the World (WAW), The Association Specialists and America Urological Association, European Society of Cardiology, Goldman Sachs, Alstom, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Microsoft, Atkins, Britvic Soft Drinks, Peugeot Citroen, GlaxoSmithKline, Fossil, Arcor, Merck, Lamprell, FedEx, L’Oreal and Unilever.

The year 2015 will also be the year of the largest number of new exhibitors, including exciting brands and destinations. Just some of them include the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Bulgaria; Ministere de l’Economie Direction Generale du Tourisme, Luxemburg; Secretaria Nacional de Turismo de Paraguay; Sri Lanka Convention Bureau; Sandals and Dorchester Collection.

TTG: What are the themes for the Knowledge Programme? How does the Knowledge Programme benefit attendees?

This year we will be delivering a fresh approach to the ibtm knowledge programme, introducing new content created around seven global themes: Connections Mean Everything, Putting Meeting Design into Practice, Tools for Planner Productivity, Industry Engagement, Inspiration from Outside, and Innovative Events and Leading Lights for Leading Events. Individual sessions will be ‘linked’ to one of these themes. Our strategy is to provide a more ‘sculptured’ programme where attendees can link their personal education schedule according to these themes or can pick and choose according to individual speakers and topics. Our knowledge programme will be led by an exciting line up of influential industry experts on the many and diverse topics facing the industry now and in the future.

Whilst content is most definitely king, the environment in which the content is delivered is most certainly queen and this year will see all of ibtm world’s education delivered on the show floor, located within the newly created ACS Knowledge Village, consisting of four purpose built and themed theatres. The concept of the ACS Knowledge Village is to provide single ‘learning hub’ on the show floor, making it more accessible to visitors, Hosted Buyers and exhibitors. This is a bold and exciting move for ibtm world and reflects our desire to implement principles of meeting design to ensure both the content and environment is world-class and demonstrates our commitment to education. We are delighted to be working with such a creative and solutions-driven partner in ACS Audio Visual Solutions who have helped us deliver the vision of the ACS Knowledge Village, which is something I am really excited to see at the show.

TTG: How does ibtm world live up to the ethos of ‘Connections mean everything’?

ibtm world strives to deliver a more personalised and relaxed experience which allows for ‘real’ business to be done on the show floor, offering a number of informal and formal networking opportunities for all attendees as well as a knowledge programme with a range of innovative, creative and cutting-edge sessions delivered by leading industry experts.

Everything we do at Reed Travel Exhibitions centres around creating profitable business connections – from formal business appointments to networking functions. Our focus therefore has to be connecting the right people in the right place at the right time. Whilst ‘Connections Mean Everything’ is the strap line for ibtm world, it has also become the ethos of all we do.

The Meetings Leadership Summit is the high-profile event that launches ibtm world, which this year will be held at El Born, a remarkable restoration of 17th century ruins set in the district sharing the same name. This invitation-only event brings together 200 like-minded individuals who are tasked with making their organisations more competitive, more agile, more profitable, more dynamic and better able to respond to constantly changing business dynamics.  The guest list reads like a who’s who of the meetings industry who will enjoy networking in such a unique environment as well as an audience with keynote speaker Per Schlingmann, co-author of the acclaimed ‘Urban Express’ who will share his views about how ‘traditional knowledge’ is not sufficient to survive and prosper in today’s fast changing and unpredictable world. Schlingmann will uncover the concept of ‘wild-knowledge’ and what it will mean to business leaders moving forward.

Other networking events include; the official ibtm world Welcome Reception taking place onsite on Tuesday 17 November – this is where everyone can socialise and connect after the first day of the show. Once again sponsored by Barcelona Convention Bureau, this year’s theme will be Barcelona – a city for sports enthusiasts.

The popular ibtm world Networking Hour on Wednesday 18 November is aimed at giving exhibitors the opportunity to organise their own receptions and social activity on their stands for all attendees including Hosted Buyers, trade visitors, their own industry contacts and media. Networking Hour takes place prior to the ibtm world Club Night, which will again be hosted at Opium Mar – probably considered one of the annual industry social events, this popular night club is the place to be seen, located right by the ocean and open until the early hours for those who can handle it!