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Nashville rocks ibtm america 2016

ibtm america held last week at Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Resort Nashville,  exclusively connected the US and international meetings industry through a mix of business, education and networking.  Kicking off with Discovery Day, where over 500 attendees experienced downtown Music City and the legendary Honky Tonks, the private event continued at the Gaylord Convention Center with some 5000 one-to-one mutually matched business appointments and 18.5 hours of networking opportunities over 2.5 days.

Tailored to the US market, the event was dominated by North America, Mexico, Canada and Caribbean suppliers that included hotel brands, convention centers, incentive destinations, CVB’s, NTO’s, Cruise Lines and tech suppliers.  Each exhibitor has an all inclusive, uniformed Meeting Pod, which just requires their own branding so that clients just show up, sit down and start their business meetings.   

First tier cities this year included NYC & Company, Greater Miami CVB, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and Detroit Metro CVB as well as Great Fort Lauderdale the destination for ibtm america in 2017.  Some 2/3rd of exhibitors returned from their success at last year’s event.  

Alex Michaels, Director of Sales for Virginia’s Blue Ridge “loved the privacy of the meeting pods” adding “We have been non-stop since Wednesday.  I have really had a chance to have enough time with each buyer to explain about us and who we are and all in private. The mutual match has given me real appointments and planners who are already interested in us.  I really believe I have met some great contacts for my business”.    

This year’s international exhibitors included Costa Del Sol Convention Bureau, Valencia Region Tourist Board, Busan, Visit Flanders (Belgium), India Tourist Office, Turespana and Dubai Business Events.  

Ishrat Alam – Tourist Information Officer, India Tourism confirmed the success of the event:  “We have attended every year since the beginning of this event.  Last year we picked up many leads but 2 of them will definitely turn into business in 2017.  We know that any MICE business leads can take up to 2-3 years to make happen, but this has always proved to be a great ROI and it has given us the opportunity to really explain our experiential high end incentive and meetings products face to face.  The mutual match appointment system is very good indeed.”  

The Hosted Buyer program included 86% domestic USA and 14% international, (based on the research among exhibitors) including Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Russia, Spain, Sweden, UAE and UK.

 Exhibitor’s had requested planners from the corporate sector, as well as incentive planners as their priority – the first time this sector was at the event - associations and agency made up the rest.    

Thomas L Fagan, Jr, PE , The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) said of his attendance:  “We are the world’s largest not for profit association.  In 2015 we had 1300 meetings worldwide.  I am here looking at various hotels, venues and CVB’s and have found a number of opportunities.  I had 18 serious appointments of which some will wind up getting business placed.  We are looking at events up to 5 years ahead – it used to be 10 years but the lead time has now shortened.  I have been to ibtm america for the past 3 years – it works for me”.  

The top 5 products of interest identified by Hosted Buyers for their appointments this year were Conference and meeting venues, resorts and spas, destinations and non-hotel special event venues.  Planners represented blue chip companies such as American Express, Colgate-Palmolive, National Association of African American Studies, Global Cynergies, Wells Fargo, The International Ecotourism Society, Herballife International, Maritz and many others.  

The show floor had new features this year with a focus on Technology, displayed around a central hub that also enabled more connections to be made over breaks in the appointments schedule, the TechCollective showcased latest and emerging technologies, from start-ups and entrepreneurs highlighting new ideas for the industry through live demonstrations.  

“Building a community for this industry is a key ingredient to the success of ibtm america and this year Nashville bought everyone together for a southern style US meetings experience.  The mutual match system of appointments was refined still further to produce the highest quality of real business prospects, resulting in some great praise from our exhibitors and buyers.  Designing a system that allows both buyers and suppliers to choose who they want to meet with from the outset of their journey with us, and then making this happen has produced some remarkable results and 100% of appointments that each party wanted to have for their diary – nearly 30 over the 1.5 business days”.  

Continuing to rotate ibtm america to the country’s top meetings cities, The Hilton Diplomat Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale will be the home of the event next year.  Having received top honors from TripAdvisor and Orbitz, the property was also named a top 100 Meeting Hotel by Cvent. 

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