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Meeting Industry 'Taking Care of Business' as ibtm world Gets Under Way in Barcelona

ibtm_world_Wed_ blog11_29_17

Photo courtesy of ibtm world

A celebration was entirely appropriate as meeting and event industry professionals gathered in Barcelona for the 30th edition of ibtm world.

Beginning with the Meetings Leadership Summit on Monday night at the famed Gran Teatre del Liceu, one of the oldest opera houses in Europe, to an opening keynote Tuesday with the CEO of mega-global crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, ibtm world welcomed about 3,000 exhibiting companies from more than 150 countries and a record 74,000 individual hosted buyer appointments. But the ibtm brand of Reed Travel Exhibitions is hardly sitting on its laurels.

With plans to expand shows in China and Africa plus a reconfigured show in Mexico City that will include the North American market, Kerry Prince, portfolio director at ibtm, sees positive growth for ibtm shows going forward while committing to keeping the world gathering in Barcelona.

“We’re all incredibly proud to be celebrating our 30th edition,” Prince said on Tuesday. “Barcelona has been a superb host and it has not been an easy year [for Barcelona]. As long as the city loves us coming here, we’ll be here.”

This year’s event could not have been more timely for a city that has been forced to cope with terrorism and political upheaval. In August, a terrorist drove a van into pedestrians on the famed La Rambla in the heart of Barcelona, killing 13 people and injuring at least 130, one of whom later died. Last month, protests erupted in Barcelona over the Catalan parliament’s approval of a unilateral declaration of independence from Spain. This week during ibtm world, taxi drivers will go on strike right in the middle of ibtm world over efforts by Uber and Cabify to do business in the city.

But that did not stop industry professionals from gathering. Prince reported more than 40 new exhibitors, a 15 percent increase in hosted buyer appointments, a 43 percent increase in new buyers and a 22 percent increase in initial appointment match.

Organizers extended the stay of more than 100 hosted buyers to enable more time for business while also creating lunch hours to help ease the hectic schedule.

The annual ibtm Trends Watch report was released and predicted a bright year ahead for the meeting and event industry, thanks to a renewed resilience and confidence driven by the past few years of economic and geopolitical instability.

The show also introduced two high-profile keynote speakers, beginning with Yancey Strickler, CEO of Kickstarter, who gave a lively presentation Tuesday morning on the phenomenal rise of the funding platform for creative projects. Since launching in 2009, more than 14 million people have backed a project, $3.4 billion has been pledged and more than 135,000 projects have been successfully funded, including 11 films that have received Academy Award nominations.

But Strickler said while it would have been easy to sell the company and make millions, that was not their goal.

“We wanted to keep our identity,” he said. “We were determined not to be motivated by growth or money. We don’t ever want to sell or go public. We wanted to keep our identity. Can [Kickstarter] be one of those things that is not ruined by money?”

He said he wants to fight the “monoculture, how money makes everything the same. It’s the drive to make more money to make more money.”

He urged attendees to celebrate what is different about each other by not obsessing with winning and ignoring what others say. “Think like a public benefit corporation,” he said.

Dame Stella Rimington, author and the first female director general of MI5, the United Kingdom Security Service, will deliver the keynote on Wednesday. She spent 27 years in the security service and will focus her presentation on her work in counter-subversion, counter-espionage and counter-terrorism, as well as the industry’s outlook on safety and security.

Prince gave insight into ibtm’s growth in 2018. She said the big opportunities for the industry will be in the east and south, meaning China and Africa. To that end, ibtm is expanding shows in the China and adding a show in Africa, where ibtm already has an office.

The other big change is the new ibtm americas show. Instead of shows both in Mexico and the U.S., next year will see the debut of ibtm americas, which enables ibtm to bring both markets together.

Prince said it just “didn’t make sense” to have separate shows and with the growth in South America, the facilities and hotel space in Mexico City provided ibtm what it needed to combine the shows.

“It is no secret that the potential for growth in Latin America is huge and that the region is increasingly being recognized as a major player in the industry,” she said. “We believe that our event in Mexico, already successful, has scope to support the market further and become a prime date in the global events industry calendar, so combining the events to incorporate the North American market and create ibtm americas feels like a natural evolution of the portfolio.”

Prince said ibtm has done extensive research, creating nine personas that reflect the industry, which has guided her decision making.

The organization’s Industry Trends Watch 2017 was released Tuesday.

“Instability is becoming the new normal,” said Alistair Turner, one of the co-writers of the study. Along with Rob Davidson, the two gave insight into trends in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa.

“There’s no getting away from the fact that there is still a period of uncertainty ahead, with several evolving and new economic and geopolitical developments continuing to play out across the globe,” Davidson said. “However, our industry is approaching this proactively, continuing to ‘take care of business,’ both literally and figuratively, which points to a very positive year ahead.”

Click here for the full report. 

About the Author

Rich Luna

Rich Luna is director of publishing for MPI and editor in chief of The Meeting Professional.