Following the AIBTM Knowledge Program, the trade show floor opened yesterday at 10 am with a ribbon-cutting ceremony presented by AIBTM Exhibition Director Michael Lyons, IBTM Global Events Portfolio Director Sallie Coventry, President and CEO of Visit Orlando George Aguel, Chairman of Visit Orlando Paul Mears III, and Deputy General Manager of Orange County Convention Center Yulita Osuba.
The day began with an important update from the Meetings Mean Business Coalition at the Chapin Theater. Over 250 attendees listened to leaders in the industry discuss its strategic mission to unify under “one voice” and then participated in a Q&A about where the Meetings Mean Business campaign is headed.
Larry Luteran, the Coalition’s co-chair, opened the panel by reiterating the critical importance of meetings to the economy. “For every dollar spent on meetings there’s a $9.50 return,” he said. “Meetings are the number one marketing vehicle to help generate revenue.”
When asked about the greatest success of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition thus far, Deborah Sexton, President and CEO of PCMA, said, “Staying together as one voice is critical to our industry. We won’t stop because the economy has improved; our message has to resonate globally.”
On the trade show floor, first time exhibitor Hamburg Convention Bureau held a market focus session for U.S. buyers interested in placing business in Germany. Over 40 buyers attended the meeting in which Nele Aumann, Marketing Manager of Hamburg Convention Bureau, discussed how the city can accommodate U.S. meeting planners when hosting large group meetings and conventions.
“Hamburg is the 2nd largest city in Germany and a 1st tier destination. I like to call it the hidden jewel of the country,” said Aumann. “Visitors don’t realize that even though by population it’s a large city, it’s actually small and intimate. Travelling to and from places is just a short ride. Berlin, the country’s capital, is only 1.5 hours away by train. It’s an ideal destination for international meetings with excellent accessibility.”
Attendees also checked out new useful technologies for their professions in the Innovation Zone and heard from leading tech companies and professionals about how to apply these in their day-to-day business lives. When they needed a quick break, they stopped at the Refresh Zone fueled with Orlando’s best eats and a comfy place to recharge before heading back to their booths or appointments.
The afternoon was capped off with the Executive Chef Tasting where Chefs Mac Lynch of Roy’s Restaurant, Russell Skall of Fleming’s Prime Steak House & Wine Bar, Eric Frame of Hard Rock Orlando, Jimmy Frantz of Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar and Jose Gonzalez of Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar served signature dishes to attendees eager to taste local specialties.
“The food at the Executive Chef Tasting was great!” said Hosted Buyer Vaibhav Parulkar. “We are looking to expand our meetings to the east coast and would definitely consider these spots. Not only was the food incredibly tasty, but also high quality. I was very impressed.”