Confidence for business events has returned to Australia as Asia Pacific’s largest business events gathering began yesterday, with recovery rates expected to be faster than initially projected.
This is according to stakeholders at the Asia Pacific Incentive and Meetings Event (AIME), which kicked off yesterday with a pre-show day of workshops for the first time since Covid-19 hit two years ago.
“We’re making up for lost time this year,” AIME events director and CEO of Talk2 Media & Events, Matt Pearce, told TTGmice. “There’s a lot to do (and) we’re looking to make sure that we drive commercial outcomes for both our exhibitors and our buyers. It seems to me that there is an overarching and increasingly confident corporate market coming back.”
This year’s event brings in 342 hosted buyers and 225 exhibitors, compared to 266 hosted buyers when AIME last gathered in February 2020, after delegates from China were unable to travel. There are 30 international buyers at AIME 2022 including from South-east Asian countries Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, plus 52 virtual.
Half the buyers are new to AIME and the fact that the vast majority of delegates are from the domestic market is seen as crucial to providing a more immediate kickstart to the sector’s urgent recovery.
With Australia’s recent border opening, lifting of many restrictions – including the wearing of masks at events – and social distancing now a “recommended” suggestion rather than mandatory in most major cities, everything seems to be pointed in the right direction for the industry’s return.
“I think (recovery this year will be higher than 30 per cent of pre-Covid levels),” said Pearce. “The industry is no longer talking about (whether) we will be back but it’s how we’ll be back because the biggest challenge now is that we can’t find the staff. They’ve left the events industry because they saw it as an uncertain and unstable industry, and we now have to work hard to prove that that was Covid-related, not industry-related,” he continued.
As part of AIME’s opening, a global snapshot survey was also announced revealing that one in two in the industry considered face-to-face meetings the leading factor driving business growth, with the primary reason being that it cements vital relationships. When it came to the most exciting opportunities for business events, more than half of respondents cited creative events, followed by innovative technology.
“We’re also really pleased that in the survey 96 per cent cited (AIME) as being an important event for event recovery, with 68 per cent of those people saying it’s critical,” added Pearce.
The format of the show has also been modified to add a five-day virtual version within days of the in-person event concluding, bringing the total number of participants to 1,500.
This year’s show will also feature activations by SongDivision, which returns to AIME for the first time in ten years.
“Over the next three days, AIME will facilitate around 14,000 meetings, matching buyers’ needs with destinations and services on offer from over 300 exhibitors,” said Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre’s chief executive Peter King.
“An average of 440,000 business events (were) delivered annually in Australia, and it’s just great to be getting them back into action again,” he added.