This year’s IT&CMA offers twice as much cause for celebration, as 2017 heralds a very special double landmark for the event: the 25th birthday of IT&CMA itself as well as the 20th birthday of its younger sibling, CTW Asia-Pacific, that has been accompanying it at it’s Bangkok home for just over a decade now. As with any special birthday, it is always a good time to take stock and reflect, so here are some of the highlights that Asia’s premier MICE event and only double bill has managed to notch up over the years.
With age of course comes wisdom, and such has been the case with IT&CMA as it has matured into its mid-20s. Back in the day when seminars and plenary sessions were tacked on as supplementary activities at tradeshows, IT&CMA already recognised the need for delegates to take inspiration from education that better complemented their business objectives. Over time, this knowledge-building was crafted specifically to the diverse goals of MICE professionals by developing education tracks tailored to different segments, including hands-on Campfire Knowledge Sessions, a dedicated Association Day programme (2013), and the ASEAN MICE forum (2015), all set in motion to advance the Asian market. The Future Leaders Forum, in partnership with IMEX, MPI and MCI, was another initiative kick-started in 2003 to inspire the very best students and young adults to challenge conventional thinking and practices within the industry and to begin carving out their own MICE careers.
As we get older, we also learn how to better choose our friends and company, again just as IT&CMA has also taken on board. Taking its cue from events to which everyone was invited, its own networking events evolved to include targeted sessions that suppliers and partners could take advantage of to build an audience exclusively around their brand. Engagement was thereby made easy and relevant, increasing ROI for sponsors. From the first sponsored luncheon way back in 1993, requests for branded hosted luncheons, dinners, and networking cocktails have been a steady feature of the event, and from 1996 pre- and post-show tours by NTOs and CVBs were also designed to give buyers a hands-on experience of the products and services available and to take engagement beyond the trade show days. At 2016’s edition, 18 NTOs, CVBs, corporates and organisations snapped up close to 30 captive engagement sessions, propelling networking possibilities higher than ever before and giving a foretaste of just what this year’s celebratory event holds in store.
Another characteristic of the ripening of one’s years is simply doing, and knowing how to do, better business. In this regard IT&CMA has come a long way in its twenty-five years – it was in 1995 that pre-scheduled appointment capabilities were added to facilitate structured meetings between buyers and sellers, eventually incorporating features such as perfect-matching (1996) and online diary facilities (2005). Today, 100% of appointments can be made ahead of arriving into Bangkok and is one of the key value propositions delegates can access to better plan their business conversations and maximise their time on the show floor.
A further factor in the growth of CTW Asia-Pacific over the decades has been the ability to identify and share latest business opportunities, so in keeping abreast of challenges and trends through the panel discussions Corporate Travel influencers and decision makers have been able to explore and procure solutions on the floor to better meet the changing requirements of their stakeholders. Table-top sessions have allowed buyers to reach out to suppliers and solution providers to source on behalf of their company and a chance for suppliers to connect with corporate travel professionals across different industries. In 2003, CTW Asia-Pacific started its 1st hosting Corporate Travel Manager programme to validate and ensure only the most qualified corporate travel professionals attended, creating the biggest hosting programme in the region, scheduled appointments to take business further, and a dedicated CTW Knowledge Hub and Pavilion (2016), bringing suppliers and CTMs even closer.
Sharing experience and joy
Last but not least, and as with any truly worthwhile celebration, the focus is firmly on the shared experience and shared joy, as it has been with Asia’s premier double bill. Developing the conference programme to include panel-led sharing sessions and moderators moved away from the traditional speaker-led gatherings to encourage corporate travel managers to speak up, share and learn not just from experts but from like-minded peers. CTW Asia-Pacific also found a way to help delegates network beyond appointments and the conference room through social settings such as coffee breaks and luncheons, sponsored events, FAM trips, and so on, to encourage the exchange of ideas between peers and to weave their connections into their professional and personal networks.
Whilst the annual get together of many of the top MICE industry professionals in the Thai capital is indeed a high point – as it will be this September 26-28 at the Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld when the region’s and the world’s premium sellers and buyers come together for a three-day birthday bash of intensive business and bonding – it is also the culmination of arduous efforts throughout the year by all of those involved in making sure the event has become the recognised success that it is, one for which 90 local Thai buyers were treated to a sneak preview in July when IT&CMA, together with the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), put together a special preview roadshow in Bangkok to showcase the event.
“IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific’s longevity is a result of our unwavering mission in helping our industry, and all the people in it, grow,” said Ooi Peng Ee, General Manager–Events, TTG Asia Media. “Our commitment in establishing valuable and sustainable partnerships, working with entities like TCEB and events like these to co-create value, have been key to our success.”