Hanging out with a big group of friends Image 1


"Hanging out with a big group of friends"

Ibtm america is an expo format in miniature; 240 delegates came together in the Sunshine State Florida to discuss professional issues, personal matters – and US President Donald Trump.

mmigration officers were really friendly", was the astonished finding of one group of hosted buyers and journalists from Europe and Asia. In consideration of the policies put in force by US President Donald Trump, these international frequent flyers had felt a certain degree of anxiety before passing through US immigration at the Miami International Airport. Everybody shared in the relief afterwards, and that broke the ice and put the group in verbal interaction without any preliminary small talk right up to the moment they arrived at the Diplomat Beach Resort Hollywood in Florida. When they entered the lobby with its view on the Atlantic, everybody switched to summertime mode. Good prospects then for the ibtm america, June 14 through 16, 2017, to which Reed Travel Exhibitions had flown in 115 hosted buyers. 85 percent of these came from the US, with two thirds of the group representing corporates including Deloitte, Microsoft, Nike and Unilever as well as associations.

Hanging out with a big group of friends Image 2
It was easy to say hello to people especially the organizers Kerry Prince (left) and Jaime McAuley.

Jaime McAuley emphasized that 87 percent of the hosted buyers had been invited for the first time and had been chosen based on strict criteria. As Event Director ibtm america, she knows well that the Meeting Pod format providing for 1:1 meetings between buyers and suppliers in 20-minute intervals hinges on the quality of buyers. After all, the 125 exhibitors needed to get their money's worth. Six of ten suppliers came from the US, among these Marriott International, Greater Miami CVB, Choose Chicago and the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, the remaining four of ten hailed from China (Hong Kong), Dubai, Mexico, Hungary and Spain as well as eleven other countries. "We had 3,074 total appointments – 99 percent of appointment slots were filled", said McAuley. The hosted buyer had 18 appointments to meet within those two days.

Geetha Arekal was pleased with her timetable, as were most of the other planners as well. The Global Travel Program Manager with Unilever Industries traveled here from Bangalore, and she appreciated the expo format: "Having 1:1 talk enhances my understanding. It is giving face to the name for me and helps me immensely to understand how they work." She had engaged in some serious Internet research in preparation for each of the meetings, and she stated that she would enjoy coming back again next year. Joe Reise, travel planner with Motivation Excellence in Illinois, considered the trip worthwhile. He wanted to find new hotels and destinations which he could wholeheartedly recommend to his clients. Both event planners were concerned about security issues. Other than for many Europeans, security measures such as guards and cameras at the convention center and hotel are a common sight.


Joe Reise, Travelplaner bei Motivation ExcellencePHOTO: MOTIVATION EXCELLENCE
Joe Reise, Travelplaner bei Motivation Excellence
Joe Reise, eigentlich Joachim Reise, wurde in den USA geboren und spricht sehr gut Deutsch. Reise ist seit 1980 in der Reiseindustrie und hat u.a. für Lufthansa gearbeitet. Seit 23 Jahren ist er für Motivation Excellence tätig.

tw:Warum sind Sie als Hosted Buyer von Schaumburg in Illinois zur ibtm america geflogen? Und war es die Reise wert?
Joe Reise:
Ja, das war es. Ich wollte neue Hotels und Destinationen finden, zu denen wir reisen können. Um meinen Kunden etwas zu empfehlen, muss ich sicher sein, dass es das Beste ist. Dafür muss ich die Anbieter kennenlernen. Sehr interessant war Budapest für mich. Die meisten Amerikaner reisen nach Paris, London oder Berlin, aber nicht nach Budapest. Das ist neu für sie, und damit ist es interessant für Incentives. Das gilt auch für Cascais in Portugal. Ich war 26 Jahre nicht mehr in Portugal. Es hat sich viel getan, und ich habe erfahren, dass die Preise 20 Prozent günstiger sind als in Spanien und Italien. Von den Hotels war das „The Wort“ in Jackson, Wyoming, interessant, ein exklusives Boutique-Hotel. Das gilt auch für den Venue der ibtm america, das Diplomat Beach Resort. Wir haben hier schon viele große Kongresse organisiert.

Anders als bei großen Fachmessen haben sich Besucher und Aussteller im 20-Minuten-Takt zu vorab vereinbarten Terminen getroffen. Wie finden Sie das?
Mal finde ich es gut, mal nicht. Es kommt auf den Termin an. Manche Gespräche sind nach fünf Minuten fertig, für andere bräuchte ich 40 Minuten, weil so viel zu lernen ist.

Wegen der Anschläge in Brüssel, Paris, London und Berlin haben nicht wenige US-Amerikaner Bedenken, ihre Meetings in Europa zu machen. Wie denken Sie und Ihre Kunden darüber?

Wir sprechen oft über das Thema Sicherheit – erst gestern wieder. Es kommt auf den Kunden an. Wir haben eine internationale Unternehmensberatung für die wir ein Meeting in London organisieren. Die wollen unbedingt nach London, weil sie dort Geschäft machen. Sie sind über die täglichen Nachrichten hinaus sehr gut informiert und haben keinerlei Befürchtungen. Anders ist es bei unseren Incentive-Kunden. Sie sehen oft nur zwei Minuten TV-News und möchten nicht mehr wissen. Sie sagen: „Es ist unser Geld, und wir wollen, dass unsere Leute gerne dort hinreisen. Warum sollen wir etwas riskieren, wenn es doch so viele Plätze gibt, wo nichts passiert?“ Und sie fürchten die Versicherungen. Wenn einem Teilnehmer etwas zustößt, kann er in den USA die Firma verklagen. Die kann dann zehn Millionen US-Dollar zahlen und im schlimmsten Fall Bankrott gehen. Für uns als Agentur ist das sehr frustrierend. Wir haben sehr gute Programme in Paris oder London, in Berlin und München, und denken, dass nichts passieren wird.


"We always have a high awareness – especially after 9/11,“ said GM Ed Walls. His Diplomat Beach Resort has 1,000 rooms, which were recently redecorated, as was the lobby. Covering almost 20,000 square meters, his hotel holds the largest capacities south of Orlando available for conferences – of course expanded by the outdoor zone with terrace, pool area and beach. "We can organize yoga groups at the beach for groups. You can do everything under the roof", said Walls. 70 percent of his business is conducted with groups, primarily with conventions hosted by US corporations and associations traveling to Hollywood via Miami international Airport or Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. President Donald Trump has to date positively influenced Wall's business, because the POTUS's critics are preferring the Diplomat Beach Resort over the Trump Hollywood or Trump International Beach Resort. Walls had no second thoughts about hosting the ibtm america: he's hoping for international business.

In choosing destinations, ibtm america is emphasizing its focus on corporate planners. "We ask them: Do you want us to stay or to rotate in order to explore different regions?" said Jaime McAuley. Accordingly, this year's choice was Florida and Hollywood following Chicago in 2015 and Nashville in 2016. Destination and date for 2018 will be announced in July. "Wherever we go there will be always an ibtm event, and for sure we will go on with USA", is the response given by Kerry Prince, Portfolio Director ibtm events, to inquiries about the ibtm america's future.

Gabrielle Donchez with Choose Chicago wouldn't mind at all if the show returned to her city. "It is a great way to gain visibility with meeting and travel planners." She enjoyed her first ibtm america, where she set up more contacts than she had anticipated. Donchez: "I loved this concept! The 20 minutes was a perfect amount of time to discuss business as well as get to know the clients on a more personal level. It allowed everyone to be timely and organized during the appointments, which was a nice breather from other shows where everyone is running around the show floor feeling stressed." She considers the number of participants to be just right. "It felt like I was hanging out with a big group of friends and it was easy to recognize and say hello to people at lunches and around the resort" is her summary of the amicable atmosphere. This ambiance is on one side owed to the host nation's open-minded attitude and on the other to the many opportunities for networking such as the White Party, at which numerous Americans and their guests discussed the effects of Trump's travel ban and collated the news from their respective countries. One event that will certainly linger in everybody's mind is the excursion on Discovery Day to the Everglades National Park – and that even though, or perhaps because, a warm summer rain poured down on the participants in their airboats and they caught a glimpse of only a single crocodile.

Weather had finally improved on the day of departure. Only Donald Trump and his trip to Miami brought the airport and traffic to an hours-long standstill.  KERSTIN WÜNSCH