graeme, barnett
Graeme Barnett

Graeme Barnett on how to create an effective brand experience at the IBTM Show.

GRAEME BARNETT, Senior Exhibition Director, ibtm world, Reed Travel Exhibitions

Q: What are the IBTM highlights for this year?
As one of this year’s key new initiatives, ibtm world 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, Innovative Events and Leading Lights for Leading Events. Individual sessions will be ‘linked’ to one of these themes, providing a more ‘sculptured’ programme. The 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 a 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 audiovisual 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.

In addition to the ibtm knowledge programme are a large number of networking and informative events taking place throughout the show, including the official ibtm world Welcome Reception taking place on-site on Tuesday 17 November and the popular ibtm world Networking Hour on Wednesday 18 November, which is aimed at giving exhibitors the opportunity to organise their own receptions and social activity on their stands for all attendees. 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 (

2015 will see the largest number of new exhibitors attending the event, including exciting brands and destinations. Just some of them include the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Bulgaria; Secretaria Nacional de Turismo de Paraguay; Commune di Napoli; Ministere de l’Economie Direction Generale du Tourisme, Luxemburg; Ibiza Convention Bureau; Prague City Tourism; India Tourism; Basque Country Tourist Board – Basque Tour; Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Bulgaria; Sri Lanka Convention Bureau; Dorchester Collection, Europalco, GOAPP, Sandals and Beaches Resorts, Etud Event Technologies, TapCrowd by etouches and World Hotels.

To improve the connections and business meetings between buyers and suppliers, we have evolved the way we match appointments between Hosted Buyers and exhibitors, now called a ‘mutual match appointment system’. This provides both parties with the opportunity to select their appointment preferences, which the system then matches based on relevance and availability. It means that exhibitors 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.
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

Q: How are numbers looking for this year compared to 2014?
ibtm world is the largest gathering of the meetings, events and incentives industry across the globe. We don’t focus on numbers, but we do independently audit ibtm world every year, so before this year’s show opens, we believe we will be welcoming some 15,500 meetings industry professionals which includes over 3,000 Exhibitors representing over 150 countries, including destinations, hotels, attractions and entertainment, venues and technology and event service providers.
Our priority is quality, so the task of qualifying the Hosted Buyers is currently in full swing. We are expecting some 4,000 Hosted Buyers who will make more than 78,000 pre-scheduled appointments during the three days of the show. Applications at the end of August were 38% up on the same time last year and 47% of those qualified so far are new to the show. Just a few companies attending this year include the 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.

We are also expecting over 6,500 trade visitors. Trade visitors are encouraged to register online before the show in order to benefit from free fast-track entry, flexibility to arrange personal schedules, discounted travel and accommodation, opportunities to attend a range of networking events and education sessions, and pre-show information updates that will enable registered attendees to effectively plan their visit. ibtm world offers a range of travel and accommodation discounts for all ibtm world attendees including up to 50% off airfares with Iberia and Lufthansa Group, and discounts on rail fares by Iberia and Renfe and ferry fares by Acciona Trasmediterránea, as well as the best available rates on accommodation.

Q: Where are you focusing your marketing efforts in 2015?
Our main focus is to offer both buyers and suppliers a platform to grow their business in the global meetings, events, conference and incentives industry and maximise their ROI. Ensuring the right profiling of both planners and suppliers is fundamental to the matching process and we continually strive to ensure exhibitors complete their profiles with very specific and relevant information, which is key to helping planners identify who they want to meet with. We also make sure to have the right buyers – it really is about relevance on both sides. Our unique Hosted Buyer Programme hosts some 4,000 top level buyers with proven budget and international business to place that enable exhibitors to win and secure future business at the event. Ensuring we keep evolving the programmes for the corporate, association and agency planners is key to delivering the right numbers but crucial in delivering the right quality.

Q: Are you noticing any trends amongst your clients this year?
The way in which younger members of our industry make decisions is something to watch. Technology has been the number one driver of change for this industry with the rapidly changing needs of younger professionals influencing event planners and producers to think more on how best to engage audiences and will remain a vital ingredient in the planning and implementation of meetings and events.
Some of this will be reflected at ibtm world – using the ACS Knowledge Village as an environment to deliver education content in a flexible way and making it more accessible, closer to the life of the exhibition itself, with four different concepts, themes, technologies and designs. As well as one large lecture theatre, there will be three individual learning environments, which will engage the senses and reflect the changing needs of meeting design. In addition, Rob Davidson, Managing Director, MICE Knowledge will look at the developments in the industry from a global perspective with his annual ibtm world Trends Watch report.
As an event we are increasingly devoting feature areas, hands-on live demos, lectures and workshops plus of course space on the show floor to companies involved in technology and innovative products and services. Technology features widely in the Innovation Zone area of ibtm world, which is dedicated to creativity, passion and unique products that could have a real impact on the meetings and events industry now and in the future. The area also has its own education sessions with live interactive presentations that really are full of inspiration.

Q: Is there a space for new regional trade shows in Europe?
As part of the ibtm events portfolio, we are the leading global event for the meetings and events industry held in Barcelona, providing regional and international buyers with a platform from which they can conduct their key annual business meetings. As part of such a vast global network, the show offers countless powerful connections and business opportunities for all attendees. It connects some 15,500 industry professionals every year from all corners of the world – it is seen as the final industry point to connect each year as it takes place in November.
Findings from ibtm world’s post show research showed that ibtm world is the place to meet and do business with meeting planners from across the globe, but also welcomes the most Hosted Buyers from UK, Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and Sweden, compared with any other show in Europe.

Our primary objective when it comes to all aspects of organising the show is supporting all attendees to achieve their business objectives. In order to achieve this we strive to deliver a more personalised and relaxed experience that allows for ‘real’ business to be done on the show floor. We also offer a number of informal and formal networking opportunities for both Hosted Buyers and Exhibitors attending.
The quality of the Hosted Buyer Programme is what sets ibtm world apart as a trade show. Each qualified buyer has to commit to attend a schedule of appointments with exhibitors of their choice. Exhibitors can therefore be sure that the appointment will be of value to them.
The Hosted Buyer Programme plays a pivotal role in the success of the show, and will continue to do so, as it is vital that we provide our suppliers with the highest quality buyers from the key markets they wish to do business with. It is for that reason that we expend so many resources ensuring that each year all aspects of the programme are a great success and buyer satisfaction levels continue to increase.

Q: What are you most excited about?
Introducing our new initiatives, meeting with our buyers, exhibitors and visitors and listening to their feedback, hearing from influential industry experts in the ibtm knowledge programme and meeting up with industry colleagues over the week at the ibtm world networking events. I also love Barcelona, so I guess there is plenty to get excited about and delivering ibtm world with my team is the biggest high of the year!

IBTM Barcelona 2016


Q: What are your tips for creating an effective brand experience at the IBTM Show?

Here are a few tips for our exhibitors to help them create effective brand experience and maximise their ROI. ibtm world will have in excess of 300 international media focused on finding themselves stories, interviews, news and pictures on the whole MICE industry – that includes your company, your brand, your services.

  • 1. First up – take the time to sit with your team responsible for managing ibtm world. Plan the agenda to discuss what your objectives will be for sales, marketing and PR.
  • 2. Go through the PR and marketing help guides on and see all of the opportunities available where you can get your name out there and seen. From sponsorship to emails, social media to PR.
  • 3. Connect with our PR agency – CUT Communications – and ask about the many and varied opportunities to get in front of the media, whether through pre-show press releases targeted to the world’s media, to getting your story and news in front of the visiting attendees, plus of course there is the Show Daily who are looking for your stories and news – maybe even a profile on your top management? Email complete the PR questionnaire or click here to read top press conference tips.
  • 4. Be Social! Join ibtm world on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube to connect with our growing community of meetings and events professionals. Give a taste of what you’ll be doing and showcasing at the show…
  • 5. Help Hosted Buyers and Visitors to find you! Log onto the Exhibitor Portal and upload as much company information as possible, assign your geographical regions and select your product/service categories. This year, with the new mutual match opportunity, it is more important than ever that you complete your profile to ensure Hosted Buyers can find you in the Exhibitor Directory and select you as a preference. —
  • 6. Think of your stand as an extension of your brand by utilising graphics, video, colours, props and staff — you could be in with the chance of winning an award! The ibtm world stand awards highlight the best and most effective exhibitors and their stands. Awards include: Best Stand Design, Best Stand Feature, Best Stand Personnel, Most Effective Use of PR and plenty more.
  • 7. Organise an event during Networking Hour on Wednesday 18 November: 18:00 – 19:00. This is the perfect time to catch Hosted Buyers outside of appointments. Make a lasting connection and get planning and promoting your networking event on your stand. Don’t forget to add your event to the Exhibitor Portal to be included on the ibtm world website stand events listing —
  • 8. Brief your staff. Make sure you have the correct team members available for the variety of Hosted Buyer appointments and any meetings with Trade Visitors. Take time to find out about who you are meeting at the show once you receive your diary of appointments on Tuesday 20 October and make sure your staff is prepared to do business!

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