Senior exhibition director, ibtm world, Graeme Barnett

Senior exhibition director, ibtm world, Graeme Barnett talks to Natalie Hami about what surprises await attendees at this year’s show

TTG: In what ways does ibtm world help tackle the challenges faced in the meetings world, on a global scale?

ibtm world ends a year and begins a new one.  As a result, when the international meetings industry meets and connects in Barcelona it provides a community of some 15,500 attendees with the opportunity to discuss, debate and hopefully solve some of their problems or at least, find like-minded colleagues and peers who are also facing their own challenges and develop strategies and plans to find solutions.

IMEX Frankfurt 2020

This year’s industry-led  conference programme has been developed as a result of lengthy research among the buyers and suppliers to determine the issues and challenges that they want to discuss which affect their business.  As a result we have five themes:

  • Safety, Security and Risk Management
  • Innovation, Disruption & Technology – what is shaking up the sector?
  • Professional Development/s Staff Recruitment and Retention
  • Client Engagement
  • The impact of Brexit on the meetings industry

TTG: What surprises do you have in store for attendees?

Surprises wouldn’t be surprises if I told you about them! But yes we do have a few. There will be an element of surprise for those individuals who will be presented with the ibtm world Lifetime Achievement Award, JMIC Profile and Power Award and the IAPCO Collaboration Award at this year’s Meetings Leadership Summit.

One surprise might be for those arriving at Barcelona Airport – the new metro line is fully open and arrivals can use the metro to travel direct to Fira Gran Via in under 20 minutes – the Fira has its very own stop.

This year’s Welcome Reception does have an element of surprise with the theme of Deliciously Barcelona!  Celebrating the Catalonia year of European Gastronomy, the Barcelona Convention Bureau will be bringing us a taste of the region and no doubt the surprise will be how this will be presented, with different zones and activities dedicated to Catalan products, people, traditions, wines and places of interest. One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be pretty special.

TTG: What fun activities will be available out of show hours?

Barcelona is considered one of Europe’s magical and mysterious cities. There is certainly no shortage of things to do in and around the city.  From the finest restaurants and busiest bars to the shopping and sightseeing, it can all be done even at night. However, we have lots to do at ibtm world as well, from the Welcome Reception on the first night to the networking hour on day two where exhibitors have their own events and parties after the show closes until 19.00.  Then there is Wednesday evening, traditionally the ‘party’ night of the week. This year we will be working with international association MPI in support of the MPI Foundation, bringing MPI Rendezvous to Barcelona for the first time. More details about how to get a ticket will be online at in the coming weeks.

TTG: Share with our readers the types of discussions and key speakers that will be brought back due to their previous success. What new speakers will be making an appearance?

 This year’s ibtm world Industry Trends Watch Report will once again be delivered by Rob Davidson, Managing Director MICE Knowledge, on the opening morning of the show. Rob’s session is the industry’s annual opportunity to take away trends, facts and stats from an international perspective.  [It’s proved] so popular that he will deliver it twice so that all attendees including exhibitors get a chance to hear from the expert at the end of this year just how the MICE industry looks heading into 2017.

All of the five themes we spoke about earlier will be developed into several sessions with speakers from the industry addressing each topic.  One of them is business development and strategy techniques for both the professional meeting planner and suppliers to the MICE industry.

Created by the industry for the industry, through research that has shaped the content for this year’s programme, the sessions will explore the directions and methods of business development and provide an overview of techniques, insights and solutions. All of the sessions will place over three days of the event in the ACS Knowledge Pavilion on the show floor. Content will include out-sourcing versus in-sourcing, effective work strategies, how to attract and retain customers, how to stand out from the competition, compliance and financial strategies for healthcare events, how to build a stand-out image for a venue, plus legal and tax clinic sessions will also feature.

Bo Krüger, meeting designer, facilitator, speaker and writer from Moving Minds is set to demystify Effective Work Strategies. Bo will provide ideas on how and when to use creativity to think outside the box, reduce costs and become more effective.

Continuing on the business development theme, Pelligrino Riccardi, cross-cultural expert at Pelligrino Consulting will look at how to conduct successful negotiations with different cultures and countries.

How to sell incentive travel to business leaders, and how to use incentive travel as a strategic tool to drive business goals, determining performance gaps and quantifying the results of the programmes, will be presented by Annamaria Ruffini, president and CEO, Events In & Out S.R.L.

We have always worked hard to produce relevant, on topic themes and insightful content for the education programme and this year we decided to research our audience in far more detail to ask what they wanted to hear about, what was ‘keeping them awake at night’ and where we could help in terms of delivering really useful content. This research was then aggregated, with the result being an innovative, immersive conference programme inspired by those who will be attending ibtm world 2016.

The rest of the seven themes as part of the Knowledge Programme will be the following:

Safety, Security and Risk Management

Innovation, Disruption & Technology

Professional Development/Staff recruitment and retention

Client Engagement

The impact of Brexit on the meetings industry

Sustainability and CSR