by Camila Clark
The world’s meeting and events industry gathered in Baltimore June 21-23 for AIBTM, the Americas Meetings & Events Exhibition. This is the first time a show of this magnitude has been held in the United States. Baltimore joins Barcelona, Abu Dhabi, Beijing and Melbourne, Australia as the host city of one of Reed Travel Exhibitions’ global hosted buyer shows.
AIBTM is changing the way meetings & events tradeshows are done in the United States due to their signature appointment-driven hosted buyer program. Reed pre-qualifies top-level meeting & events buyers who then receive complimentary travel and/or accommodations for committing to attend pre-scheduled appointments with exhibitors.
According to preliminary AIBTM data, more than 700 exhibitors in 183 exhibit spaces filled the Baltimore Convention Center for the opportunity to meet one-on-one with these highly qualified prospects. Thirty Baltimore and Maryland travel partners exhibited in a joint 50-by-45 foot Baltimore-Maryland Pavilion, which commanded a major presence on the tradeshow floor.
“AIBTM is a game changer for Baltimore and Maryland,” said Margot Amelia, executive director of the Maryland Office of Tourism. “The fact that we have been able to host thousands of meeting and incentive planners and showcase all of the wonderful offerings here in the city and state is invaluable. We look forward to hosting them again in 2012 and 2013.”
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown toured the tradeshow floor with a group of Maryland tourism officials on Thursday. The contingent saw exhibit booths from Madrid, Austria, London, Boston, Charlotte, New York City and Philadelphia en route to the large display area hosted by Visit Baltimore and the Maryland Office of Tourism.
Maryland Pavilion Partners reported positive results from their appointments with travel planners.
At the Ocean City Convention Center station, Kim Mueller commented that she was impressed with the quality of the buyers. “They were coming to buy, not just chat.” She had booked two conferences the day before – one for 3,000 to 5,000 people, the other for 1,000 to 3,000.
Amanda Fenstermaker, from Dorchester County’s tourism office, reported that she had spoken to buyers from the Washington, D.C., area who were interested in booking at Cambridge’s Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina. “It’s a world-class resort that has everything,” she said. She also mentioned interest in locations that relate to the Harriet Tubman story. The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway runs through several of Maryland’s Eastern Shore counties.
Catherine Carroll, representing Charles County, said Southern Maryland’s Civil War and War of 1812 history resonated with buyers. She had spoken to a German buyer who was interested in arranging meeting events along the John Wilkes Booth escape route, and another buyer from China.
AIBTM in Baltimore was co-hosted by Visit Baltimore and the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development’s Office of Tourism.