by Michael J. Shapiro | June 14, 2013
The Americas Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings exhibition boosted hosted-buyer acceptances by 33 percent for the 2013 event, which took place June 11-13 in Chicago. "We cast our net wider this year," noted new AIBTM exhibition director Michael Lyons, who officially began his role last October. "We're really making sure the exhibitors feel like their booth investment has a payoff." Of the nearly 1,000 hosted buyers in attendance, more than half were first-time attendees of the show, which began in 2011 and took place in Baltimore for the first two years. For this inaugural Chicago show, 55 percent of the hosted buyers represented third parties or agencies; 22 percent were corporate (a 165 percent increase over last year); 17 percent represented associations; 1 percent were government buyers, and 5 percent were from other categories.

"Our feedback from last year indicated there weren't enough corporate buyers," noted Lyons, "so we increased that number and tried to maintain a good mix of people." The show drew 707 exhibitors, a 6 percent increase over last year, while main stand holders increased from 175 to 205, a 17 percent year-over-year increase. More than 3,700 people attended AIBTM Education Day on Tuesday, June 11. Lyons credits the new location, in part, for the jumps. "Chicago is a great, dynamic city, accessible by two major airports, so it's easy to get in," he said. "Clearly, Chicago has a played a part in these numbers that have increased." The 2014 AIBTM will take place June 10-12 in Orlando.

In other news announced at the show by AIBTM parent company Reed Travel Exhibitions, the company will launch IBTM Africa, a hosted-buyer program to occur April 28-30, 2014, at South Africa's Cape Town International Conference Centre. The event will be part of Africa Travel Week, which will include International Luxury Travel Market Africa from April 28-30 and World Travel Market Africa from  May 2-3. Organizers of IBTM Africa are striving for 50 hosted buyers and 50 exhibitors at that event.