Trade shows all at sea – and for good reason

ITB China gets underway today as questions hover over industry trade shows. Why are big hotel groups turning their backs on what was once a great annual tradition, from Beijing to Melbourne? How is it that more meetings and incentive suppliers pack their bags each year and head from Asia across the Pacific? It can’t simply be the lure of the Vegas Strip.  

Trade events are becoming more a showcase for a destination as in the case of Melbourne’s Aime, which nonetheless offers compelling tech, education and speaker content alongside unrivalled entertainment.

It looks like the one-day Get Global event at ICC Sydney in July will continue that city’s thrust back into the spotlight following the revival of Darling Harbour. While to the great north, Beijing still has its arms around ibtm China, as Messe Berlin’s ITB China makes its debut in Shanghai.

How Darling Harbour and other revitalised waterfront locales are setting the scene for more conferences and incentives

The opening two days of ITB China are accented on the country’s explosion of online travel booking systems and outbound travel to Europe, before MICE and business travel take to the stage on the third day.

A look at the exhibitor list makes one wonder whether some European tourism marketing organisations are still open back on the continent.

What the shows do have in common is the challenge of certain big hotel names diverting resources to what they see as more creative – and also hope to be – cost-effective digital marketing. More suppliers are chasing those “quality buyers” with bumper corporate and association budgets that head to Frankfurt and Las Vegas for Imex.

As big trade-show names vie for custom, watch out for how those associations folks eager to keep ahead in the game of conferences, incentive and events jostle for dominance. Once the Singapore MICE Forum, ITB Asia and Get Global come to pass, officials at ICESAP and PCMA will have plenty perspective on whom they have on board.

The trade show and industry education scene indeed appears to be all at sea after an uncertain start to 2017. How appropriate then that the Professional Conference Organisers Association is organising a webinar about meetings aboard cruise liners on May 9. It’s the new thing, at least in Australia and New Zealand.

Happy Sailing!

Martin Donovan is Editor of MIX meetings magazine

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