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The New Trade Show Booth & More Cool New Enhancements To AIBTM

ON SITE REPORT BY ConventionSouth Contributor Mary Haban

[Editor's Note: Contributor Mary Haban attended AIBTM in Orlando this past June and files this report]

ORLANDO (June 10, 2014) When AIBTM (a hosted-buyer trade show/conference for meeting planners)blows through the Windy City next June, organizers are confident the new name and format will be met with red-hot reviews. “It’s a radical shift from what we’re doing now,” said Sallie Coventry, Portfolio Director, IBTM Global Events Portfolio. “This model isn’t going to be for everybody.”

The new model Coventry is touting will provide a turnkey approach to the show. And here’s how it’ll work:

  • Exhibitors will walk onto the tradeshow floor, sit down at identical, innovative pods, and be ready to roll.
  • The hassles of shipping a booth, setting up/tearing down that booth, and paying for drayage will disappear. Sound simple? That’s what organizers are hoping it’ll be.

“By taking away the booths, we’re breaking down barriers,” said Coventry, noting that this new format will still provide privacy by, “ensuring an intimate environment that gives both buyers and sellers a focused, face-to-face meeting space.”

But that's not all that's new to AIBTM.

  • This new setup also comes with a new name—IBTM America—and according to Coventry it will “level the playing field between exhibitors.”
  • IBTM America will also become more exclusive. The “invitation-only” show will now have a 1-1 ratio of buyers to suppliers, significantly down from years past. In 2014, nearly 1,200 buyers and 508 exhibitors attended the show in Orlando. In 2015, only 250 of the most prestigious planners and 250 suppliers will be invited based on a mutual-match system. Organizers say this scaled-down approach will actually be more beneficial to those selected to attend.
  • “It’s about quality verses quantity,” said Coventry. “We want to identify the right kinds of exhibitors for this new format and match them up properly.” Pre-qualified exhibitors and hosted buyers will come from all sectors of the global MICE market, split 60% for US and 40% for international. Each will have the opportunity to select whom they wish to meet with, and if there’s a mutual match, a jam-packed schedule of up to 30 appointments, over the course of two days, will result.
  • In 2015, IBTM America also plans to expand its educational and networking offerings. “Education is a vital part of what we offer and we intend to upgrade the keynote speakers and bring in great programs,” noted Coventry. Education was a significant part of this year’s show in Orlando with more than 50 sessions to choose from including a keynote address from Michael Hoffman that was both humorous and heartfelt. He encouraged planners to take a moment and do something they rarely do—celebrate their successes.

A refreshed format is what organizers of IBTM America hope will increase the show’s momentum as it heads to Chicago in June 2015. To learn more, visit www.IBTMAmerica.com


MPI Tampa Honors Shining Stars with Stylish Gala

ON SITE REPORT BY ConventionSouth Contributor Mary Haban

TAMPA, Fla. (JUNE 27, 2014)—Shimmering white lights, long stemmed glasses and freshly pressed tablecloths greeted members of MPI Tampa as they entered the doors to one of the most talked about events of the year. They gathered to salute their fellow members. And they dressed to impress. Clad in stylish white wardrobes, partygoers knew this “Light the Night” White Gala had a special purpose.

“We’re celebrating our volunteers tonight,” said Margaret Williams, CMP, “or as we call them…shining stars.” As the President of this thriving chapter, Williams is quick to rattle off the long list of attributes she feels makes these members so worthy.

“Our chapter was voted number two for member engagement and ranked in the top 10 globally for member satisfaction,” she said with a smile.

To pull off these standings, volunteers are not only key—they’re crucial. Tampa’s robust membership – 340 and growing—is proof that this chapter is doing something right when it comes to attracting and keeping members happy.

“Every one of our programs this year was accredited for CEU units,” said President Elect Jim Engelmann, adding he’s poised to continue the chapter’s success by embracing change. “We’re going to trying new programs we’ve never tried before to appeal to the new generation of planners.”

To learn more about this trail-blazing chapter, visit www.tampabaympi.org

ABC News Out Of Charleston  S.C. Reports Event Planner Pleads No Contest To Fraud, Breach Of Trust

...CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV)—A local wedding planner pleaded no contest Thursday to fraud and breach of trust charges.
   Robert Lawson Smith's plea came nearly five months after he was arrested and accused of using a client's credit card to pay off personal debts.
   According to Smith's attorney, David Aylor, Smith -- who also goes by the name Lawson Roberts -- pleaded no contest to one count of financial transaction card fraud over $500 and one county of breach of trust with fraudulent intent.

Massive Undertaking Unveiled At One Of Florida's Top Resorts For Meetings

DESTIN, Fla.—Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa has completed a four-month, $12.5 million renovation of its lobby and public space, Sandcastles Restaurant and Lounge, Hadashi Sushi Bar, Spa Tower guest rooms and Serenity by the sea Spa. The renovation is part of a multi-year transformation project totaling more than $30 million.
“This was a massive undertaking and perfectly reflects our commitment to maintaining the standard of excellence that sets us apart from so many other Florida beach resorts,” said the hotel's Gary Brielmayer.

Because We Meet, Hotels In Orlando Keep Building Meeting Space

ORLANDO—The Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive has completed of a multimillion-dollar renovation that includes a renovated lobby lounge, guest rooms and 25,000 square feet of newly constructed meeting space and an outdoor venues for weddings and events. The completed hotel renovation complements a 100,000-square-foot retail and dining development, I-Shops, taking shape on International Drive.
   The hotel’s meeting space renovation includes a new 25,000-square-foot ballroom. Exterior renovations are near completion as well, with new landscaping on the Grand Lawn that is used for events. Additional upgrades are set to take place throughout 2014.

Louisville Could Become The Next Nashville With These Two Game Changers

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Omni Hotels and Resorts is set to build a 600-room convention hotel in downtown Louisville with an opening no later than 2017. In addition to the planned 70,000 square feet of meeting space, attendees will have access to an additional 300,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space at the Kentucky International Convention Center.
   “The Omni is a game-changer for Louisville’s hospitality industry increasing our convention business potential in a competitive marketplace,” said Karen Williams, who was recently named as the new president/CEO of the Louisville CVB.
   ConventionSouth Editor Marlane Bundock says she has her eyes on Louisville, noting that "news like this shows the city is moving into the international meetings marketplace...just like Nashville is with its new convention district."

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