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Resurgence in meetings and incentive business at AIME 2004

AIME 2004, held in Melbourne, Australia this week, has won praise from exhibitors and Hosted Buyers with one …

AIME 2004, held in Melbourne, Australia this week, has won praise from exhibitors and Hosted Buyers with one exhibitor claiming it was the best trade event they had been to in five years.

After two difficult years for the industry exhibitors at AIME 2004 reported a resurgence in interest in new destinations and in immediate, short-term business. Exhibitors are reporting good, sizeable business, not just enquiries, said Rosemarie Sama, AIME Exhibition Manager.

We have had excellent feedback from exhibitors such as Dubai, Las Vegas, Hawaii, Thailand, Cape Town, Malaysia, Argentina, New Zealand, Brunei and Barcelona.

Australian exhibitors are also pleased, with good business leads generated by South Australia, Melbourne, Sydney, Tasmania, Canberra and Perth.

A record 750 exhibitors from 45 countries participated in the annual event, which covered more space than ever before. Exhibitor numbers were up 16% with 103 more exhibitors than for AIME 2003.

Hosted Buyer numbers were also up on the previous AIME. This year 375 buyers from 21 countries attended the two day event, an 13.5% increase on last year`s 331.

Trade visitor numbers were up by 16.6% on last year, from 2,179i[i] to 2,540. Of these, 631 visited the exhibition on more than one occasion.

At the request of exhibitors, we banned students from attending AIME 2004 and changed our policy on charging exhibitors for additional badges for extra staff, which had previously led some exhibitors to register as trade visitors. These two initiatives along with our two new Hosted Buyer Programmes, and our new intermediaries in key markets who helped qualify buyers, contributed greatly to the improved quality of visitors this year.

Las Vegas, and many other exhibitors were impressed by this year`s event.

AIME 2004 has been the best trade event we`ve been to in five years, said Connie Jalet from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

I have representatives from more than ten hotels on my stand this year. All our hotels have had the opportunity to meet planners. Several planners have come through with Requests for Proposals (RFPs) in hand, which doesn`t always happen at trade shows. We`ll definitely be back next year, Ms Jalet said.

James Reed, CEO/Group Managing Director, Destination Asia, was extremely pleased with AIME.

The quantity of buyers is up, but more importantly the quality is the best AIME has ever had, he said.

Saleh Mohamed Al Geziry from the Government of Dubai, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said that AIME was much stronger this year.

We`ve had a lot of interest in Dubai and a full schedule of back-to-back appointments. Some have come with RFPs and others are of very good potential with real business to place.

Hawaii also rated AIME 2004 `very highly`.

AIME 2004 has been outstanding, said Adele Tasaka from Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Our appointments and business opportunities have been great and I would rate AIME 2004 as exceptional. All the participants on our stand know they will be back. The opportunities are extensive and we will definitely be here again, she said.

Rick Taylor from Cape Town Convention Bureau said that this year they had exceeded their target for AIME.

AIME 2004 has been absolutely phenomenal. We have had wall to wall appointments and I have been run off my feet. There is a lot of confidence and a general feeling of renewed excitement. We are going away with around 40 keen proposals to translate into business. Our expectations have been more than exceeded, Mr Taylor said.

Argentina and Brunei both exhibited at AIME for the first time and both intend to return next year.

AIME has been fantastic. There has been enormous interest in our country and we are very pleased to have so many appointments – around 150, said Dra Elena Boente, Vicepresidente, Camara Agentina de Turismo.

Jean Christophe Robles Espinosa from Brunei Tourism, said Brunei would definitely be back next year with a bigger stand and more co-exhibitors.

This is our first AIME and it has been extremely good. We had a completely full appointment schedule. AIME is very well run compared to other shows I have been to, particularly other shows with appointments. There is a lot of interest in Brunei as `something different` and we have made a very strong first appearance at AIME, he said.

Ben Maurer from the Sydney Convention and Visitors Bureau said the quality of buyers was great.

Particularly on the first day of AIME, we picked up some really good sizeable business – not just enquiries, Mr Maurer said.

Jennifer Barnett from the Canberra Convention Bureau was also pleased.

This year we have had some immediate leads, including two from Brazil, which is amazing. There appears to be more immediate short term business available – people are not just looking.

Paul D`Arcy, CEO of the Perth Convention Exhibition Centre, said AIME 2004 was `the best ever`.

The interest in Perth, Western Australia and in particular the new Centre has been phenomenal and certainly kept the team busy during the exhibition. It is both exciting and challenging that we have had so much interest in the Centre.

According to Rosemarie Sama, the response from Hosted Buyers has also been very positive this year.

Hosted Buyers have commented on how much larger AIME is this year. Many were excited about finding new destinations and venues that they either did not know about, and they have also been very happy with their appointments and the ease of use of our Online Diary. They have come to AIME with real business, and have been excited about what they have found, Ms Sama said.

Rozzana Dato` Hj Rahmat from Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents found AIME 2004 quite different to AIME 2003.

It seems to be bigger and better. There have been a lot more buyers and exhibitors and better systems are in place. The online diary and registration were very convenient and efficient.

Anjali Desai, Jetair Tours, India, was also pleased.

Through my appointments I discovered places that I hadn`t previously considered like Malaysia and Macau. The online appointments were very convenient and I found I got most of the appointments I was after.

Leora Berger from Conference Africa said the `networking was everything`.

The experience has been invaluable; the people I have met have been fantastic. This is my first year at AIME but I`d definitely love to come back again. I`ve simply loved every moment.

Lucky Morimoto from Event Services Inc, Japan, said he would love to come back to AIME with more corporate buyers from Japan.

I came to AIME to network, get better acquainted with new people and new products. Next year I would like to come with more corporate Japanese buyers because this is an important show that showcases most of what is available in the mice industry, he said.

Surasak Pholmafuang, Zanda Convention and Fair Tour Co Ltd, Thailand, visited AIME for the second time.

This year there are a lot more exhibitors and buyers. The organization of AIME is fantastic and I`ve almost seen all the people I came here to see.

Reed Travel Exhibitions has commissioned independent research on AIME 2004. Exhibitors, Hosted Buyers and Trade Visitors will be surveyed over the next month.

Our independent research will assist us with planning for AIME 2005, said Rosemarie Sama.

AIME 2005 will be held on 23 & 23 February at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre.

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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