“Be yourself!” Image 1


“Be yourself!”

A different kind of post-tradeshow report: Our "Social Six" staffer and student assistant Ronja Heise accompanied the team of tw tagungswirtschaft to the ibtm world in Barcelona. Here are her impressions.

rom lecture room straight to an airplane headed to the sun – what sounds like a holiday advertisement slogan came true for me late November of last year. I'm studying event management and technology at the THM in Gießen, I work as student assistant for tw tagungswirtschaft in Frankfurt and this past year had the fantastic opportunity to attend the ibtm world in Barcelona (as part of the social media team #SocialSix).

From November 28 to 30, 2017, the ibtm world celebrated its 30th birthday at the Fira Gran Via – really a beautiful venue, once you've reached it with public transport. And I certainly came upon a most impressive venue – upward of 3,000 exhibitors from more than 150 countries had over 74,000 pre-scheduled appointments – 23 percent more than in 2016. This year, there were many first-time exhibitors including Iran Doostan Tours. Saeed Azam, Marketing Manager, Iran Doostan Tours: "Since 2015, when the sanctions against Iran were lifted, businesses have been interested in investing in the country. In the past years, Iran Doostan Tours has gained positive experiences in Spain, and we believe that attending the ibtm world 2017 might be our starting shot for the European and South American markets".

But the Iranian delegation and I weren't the only debutants at the ibtm world – there was also a new lecture and education program. Kerry Prince, Portfolio Director ibtm Events, explained that the findings of visitor surveys conducted prior to the event had led to revision of the educational curriculum. Keynotes were delivered by Yancey Strickler, co-founder and CEO of Kickstarter and Dame Stella Rimington, who gained international renown as the first female Director of the British secret service MI5. Her career was noted – and copied – in Hollywood as well. She was the first woman to be appointed Director of MI5 in 1992, and the first female secret service chief "Q" featured in James Bond movies followed in 1995. Her link to the MICE industry? "You travel, and we'll make it safe", said Rimington. With her impressive presence and charisma, she attracted to the Theatre One a notable audience reflecting the entire range of ibtm attendees, with people sitting and standing inside and even outside the lecture hall: from meeting planner over techie all the way to creative junior staff – they all listened intensely to her. Rimington spoke about how the role of women has already changed in the past and how it still should and will change in the future. And in reference to diversity, she advised all women: "Don't try to be a man, be yourself! Remember you have got things and skills. It's about diversity. This is what each organization needs!"

“Be yourself!” Image 2
Former Director of MI5 and keynote speaker at ibtm world: Dame Stella Rimington.

Diversity is only one major topical trend in our industry – another one is digitalization. This is the main focus of the ibtm world Technology and Innovation Watch Award, which went to Sciensio with their Concierge EventBot. This is a chatbot developed particularly for events enabling organizers to easily and conveniently share information with their attendees. Digitalization and many other current topics were discussed and examined in the widely-ranged educational program, where speakers and presenters including John Martinez, CEO and founder of Shocklogic, Danny Stevens, founder and CEO of Fielddrive as well as Robert Loeschke and Dominic Marder, Global Business Development of American Express Meetings & Events talked about such issues as significant global trends in the meetings industry, artificial- intelligence based facial recognition or the many aspects and facets of Customer Journey.

At the close of the show, Kerry Prince, Portfolio Director of ibtm events, lauded the new Hosted-Buyer- Program, the keynotes and at that occasion announced a third keynote-session for the ibtm world 2018, taking place from 27 to 29 November at the Fira Gran Via.

I'll follow Prince's example to speak in high terms of the expo visitors and exhibitors who were open-minded and friendly, the 'bridge' in the hall, which provided me and others with a perfect bird'seye view, the wide corridors allowing visitors to stroll across the expo premises (and possibly distracting attention from the non-existent masses of visitors), and my press badge, which granted me access to non-public exciting areas, and of course was a dooropener for numerous interesting interviews. I'd be delighted if I had the opportunity again this year to replace my university curriculum with a few exciting days at the IBTM in Barcelona and to meet so many interesting and motivating people.  RONJA HEISE

“It’s about diversity. This is what each organization needs!”
Dame Stella Rimington