by Loren G. Edelstein | June 12, 2014

AIBTM, the Americas Incentive Business Travel and Meetings Expo, announced major changes to its format for the 2015 event, to be held in June in Chicago. The convention and trade show, which this year drew 1,200 buyers and 508 exhibitors to Orlando, will become an exclusive, invitation-only event limited to 250 suppliers and 250 hosted buyers. The show floor will feature a standardized, pre-set booth format, with an all-inclusive flat fee to exhibitors of $9,500, with no additional stand costs, drayage or freight. The reinvented show will be called IBTM America, announced Sallie Coventry, portfolio director of the IBTM Global Events Portfolio, at an AIBTM press conference this morning. Over the course of two days, participants will have 30 appointments (up from the current minimum requirement of eight), all based on mutual matches.
"It's not about taking the money of anyone who wants to pay," noted Michael Lyons, exhibition director of AIBTM. Industry feedback indicated that there are too many shows in the marketplace, and it's too expensive to participate in them all, he said. "This levels the playing field so that it's not about 'my booth is bigger than yours.' That's not what's relevant. The business relationship is what's relevant."

Meals and networking events will include both buyers and suppliers. While details still are being determined, the event will continue to be preceded by an Education Day, in partnership with other meetings industry associations, said Coventry. "IBTM America will now give the U.S. meetings industry its own niche event that is focused on the business of meetings, no distractions, no time-wasting." She added, "We fully appreciate that this model isn't going to be for everyone. But we're very excited to be blazing the trail to develop something unique in the marketplace."