More is more, and that is exactly what the 27th Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME) 2019 delivered this year.
Taking on a reinvigorated three-day format, AIME 2019 was curated to focus on the individual journey of all attendees, to ensure that buyers and exhibitors can measure a positive return on investment while also upskilling their personal development.
This year AIME welcomed over 300 exhibitors from 20 countries, with over 8,400 appointments held with global event management professionals, making it the largest and most significant exhibition for the meetings industry in the Asia Pacific region.
With over 2,500 total attendee registrations, the 2019 event saw 50% more hosted buyers than the previous year; with 62% coming from outside Australia and 55% never have attending AIME before.
As the first official social event on the AIME 2019 calendar, the exclusive pre-event Uncover Melbourne Program kicked-off on Sunday 17 February, featuring unique experiences and evening cocktail party.
Over 300 hosted buyers and media were immersed in Uncover Melbourne Experiences across thirteen bespoke tours. Each unique, surprising and ‘only in Melbourne’ tour was purposely designed to showcase Melbourne’s best business events assets - exceptional creative spaces, culinary and cultural flair that Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) partners have to offer.
In the evening buyers were provided with the opportunity to catch up with old and new friends, make new business connections and uncover Melbourne’s appeal as a leading business events destination at the exclusive Hosted Buyers and Media Cocktail Party.
Hosted buyers and media were whisked away from their respective hotels across Melbourne – with a cocktail in hand on route to Melbourne’s newest event space The Timber Yard in Port Melbourne – stacked with eco-credentials, local history and an unmistaken twist of industrial chic.
In keeping with the ‘Uncover Melbourne’ theme, guests were wowed as they were immersed deep in Port Melbourne’s industrial precinct, arriving at a rugged alleyway that served as the entrance point to a cavernous warehouse, guests were greeted with canapes and music.
Hosted by Showtime Event Group alongside some of Melbourne’s best and brightest in the events industry, the evening was full of style, entertainment, great taste and broke away from the typical event format.
Pop-up performances from a group of break-dancers to a saxophone tap-dancing trio by Solution Entertainment, before brief speeches from City of Melbourne Lord Mayor, Sally Capp and MCB CEO, Karen Bolinger, followed by the big reveal!
As the warehouse doors opened, attendees flooded through into the open-air space where the real festivities began. Three beautifully themed food stations aligned the tea-crate wall, Ceviche Remix, The Striploin Steak and the build you own Strawberry Dessert – all of which were instant hits.
Soulful singers set the tone for the evening of casual networking, food and fun, allowing guests to get to know the various industry professionals from Australia and Asia-Pacific in an incredibly ambient environment.
In the know
MCB is renowned for its partnerships across the city and was delighted to orchestrate an exclusive site experience for an intimate group of global media to Melbourne & Olympic Parks (M&OP) which included a world-first preview of what the future holds for M&OP.
The venue visit saw media representatives begin their journey by embarking for a boat trip down the iconic Yarra River on a postcard-perfect Melbourne day guided by Localing Tours with refreshments provided by Showtime Events Group.
Arriving at M&OP, located at the edge of the city centre, media were greeted with world-famous Australian hospitality, before enjoying an exclusive menu prepared by Delaware North in Rod Laver Arena’s latest refurbished restaurant space, the Railyards Bistro & Bar.
Guests were then treated to an exclusive tour through the three stages of the Victorian Government’s $972 million Melbourne Park redevelopment, including its latest restaurant and bar offerings, reimagined event spaces, and the unveiling of the site for the new function and media centre.
To round out the visit, media were invited to paint a vibrant mural, capturing the rich history of the venue with images of Rod Laver, AAMI Park, tennis champions, and the new function centre’s AIME concept – the monumental white cube.
An investment in knowledge, pays the best interest
As the Major Partner of the AIME Knowledge Program, MCB is incredibly proud of the comprehensive ideas sharing and inspiring educational content delivered at this year’s event.
Day one of the official AIME program saw the evolution of the AIME Knowledge Program come to life, providing over 500 participants with a connected learning journey focused on several topics, including thought-provoking plenary talks designed to challenge thinking, intensive skill-based workshops with the first AIME Hackathon and collaborative case study-based workshops.
A standout of the AIME Knowledge Program was the industry first pop-up Dialogue in the Dark, a profound delegate experience designed to challenge limits and overcome boundaries the same way a visually impaired attendee would navigate an event.
Taking place over four sessions during the AIME Knowledge Program, the pop-up sensory experience was a partnership with the charity Guide Dogs Victoria (GDV).
Participants without visual impairment and without any of their light-emitting electronics (such as smartphones and watches) were taken into a pitch-black room, where they were seated at a table with seven strangers. This is how the sessions started, setting the stage for a series of challenges and team-building exercises that groups needed to do together — sans sight.
The popularity of the pop-up was undeniable and remained a strong talking point throughout AIME and provided an opportunity to bring the discussion around accessibility and inclusivity across the business event industry to the fore.
More networking was promised, and opportunities came in abundance across the three official event days with scheduled networking breaks daily as well as into the night with the spectacular Welcome Event and South Wharf Promenade Food Festival.
As the day’s formal business wound down to the more relaxed networking evenings, over 1,200 people attended the AIME Monday Welcome Event, celebrating cultural diversity across the region.
The Welcome Event marked the official start of AIME 2019, and first opportunity to unveil a new look and feel under new organisers Talk2 Media and Events.
Delegates roamed the venue, stopping at the various food stations along the way, with dishes on offer including freshly prepared sashimi, grilled beef and teriyaki chicken.
A floating dessert table provided a feast of decadent sweet treats for guests, before they headed to the dance floor for the rest of the night.
Show floor opens
Designed to impress, the new Melbourne stand representing MCB and MCEC along with 15 partners spread across the largest stand on the show floor. Boasting an overall elegant look and feel supported with concierge-style customer experience, it provided an ideal setting to showcase how MCB and its partners can facilitate collaboration and deliver real outcomes for event planners.
In collaboration with MCB, the new stand was designed and built by strategic partner Harry the hirer with the unique blue print of the stand a nod to Melbourne’s iconic architectural skyline.
A hive of activity, the new Melbourne stand showcased the city’s vibrant culture, impressive booths and through a series of interactive activation zones emphasised the Team Melbourne philosophy to delivering outstanding business events.
Free coffee, mocktails and cocktails, desert smashes, a multitude of give-aways, raffles and competitions rolled out while delegates shared in Melbourne’s love of music and the visual arts by randomly engaging in The Arts Centre Melbourne Play Me, I’m Yours series by playing the pop-up piano.
The Inspirational Dylan Alcott also made a special appearance on ICMI Speakers & Entertainers exhibit.
Till next year
The planning and reshaping of AIME 2019 has been a momentous journey for MCB and Talk2Media and Events over the last 12 months to build an event that is significantly different than previous editions.
This year AIME’s reinvigorated focus on connecting the right buyers with the right exhibitors to produce outcomes from new business connections was undeniably delivered in a more efficient and impactful way.
AIME 2019 has set us on a new path, and we are incredibly excited for AIME 2020!
Special thank you to all MCB partners who participated in AIME 2019 and put their best foot forward to demonstrate the variety and flexibility of options for event planners considering Melbourne for their next lucrative business event. To see a list of participants, click here.
AIME 2019 Image gallery
View images from the 2019 AIME with credit to SDP Media - click here.