From thought-provoking speakers at AIME’s signature Knowledge Exchange programme to uncovering the latest and hottest in Australasia, seven things stood out for us at the trade show this year.
An in-person connection was what everyone within the business events industry looked forward to after two years of virtual meetings. As the nation’s first international trade show to be hosted in Melbourne since Australian international borders reopened, the energy and excitement at the Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME) show floor were palpable. Being able to connect and collaborate face-to-face is not only inspiring but brings business and innovation forward while helping to build/rebuild the community.
Fueling the business event’s industry revival for Asia Pacific, AIME 2022 brought together more than 2,000 attendees including international and local buyers, to access 225 exhibitors and 342 hosted buyers from around the world. Over the three days (21-23 March 2022), participants learnt, connected and uncovered new products and services. Here are our seven key takeaways from the event.
1. Inspiration comes from all around; motivation comes from within.
AIME 2022 kicked off with its popular Knowledge Program, exploring new ideas from innovators within and outside the industry. Australia’s leading futurist, tech entrepreneur and growth hacker, Steve Sammartino, delivered a high-octane opening keynote on how to lead and succeed while embracing the uncertainty of the pandemic. He shared, “The past 23 months have led to dramatic shifts in the way organisations operate. In a climate of constant disruptions, effective leaders have to embrace and thrive within uncertainty, possessing the foresight to transform their organisation to capitalise on new business growth.”
Simon Griffiths, co-founder and CEO of Who Gives A Crap, a direct-to-consumer toilet paper company that uses 50 per cent of its profits to build toilets in the developing world, shared the heartening story of taking an idea to over AUD10 million in donations.
He walked the audience through his experience in launching a viral crowdfunding campaign, the motivation it took to expand into 36 countries and navigating a 1,200 per cent surge in demand during the pandemic. To bring things home, Simon discussed 10 lessons he learnt from building a purpose-driven global brand. These include ‘doing good is good business’, thinking of ‘everything as marketing’, and the importance of ‘being in the business of delight’.
The keynotes were facilitated by renowned Australian broadcast journalist and former news anchor Mimi Kwa. The communications expert roused the audience with her wit, charm and brief but uplifting introduction to her life story, which is now published in her memoir House of Kwa.
The opening keynote made an impression on Samantha Ford, Senior Manager, Global Meetings & Events at Baker McKenzie. “Steve’s address was fantastic. He had such great energy and message across to the audience that gave us a lot to think about. Mimi talked about connection, and that’s the biggest thing for me. Being here this week is all about connecting with people, re-establishing business relationships and making new ones. That’s the highlight for me, and I’m sure for most people, just to be back in the same room, meeting and talking to people, hearing about the industry and getting excited again.”
2. Unique event venues found in Australian art par excellence
Melbourne is hailed by many as Australia’s cultural capital, and we had the privilege of exploring a couple of its flagship art and event spaces. The city’s premier meeting place, Federation Square, is more than just a public space. It is home to Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery Victoria (NGV), the world’s first major gallery dedicated exclusively to Australian art. With special exhibitions and educational programmes and new perspectives of the city through its glass matrix, NGV Australia provides a fresh approach that encourages people from all walks of life to enjoy the world of art and its inspiring spaces.
Also housed within the landmark architectural complex is the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), which pays homage to film and TV. ACMI reopened in 2021 following an AUD34.8 million re-development. From expansive event spaces to AV-ready venues for lectures and rooms for board meetings, ACMI has a range of newly designed spaces available for hire. Located within ACMI is the contemporary all-day eating house with a European twist, Hero. Event planners can design a menu from the dishes crafted by award-winning chef Karen Martini.
Further down the Yarra River is THE LUME, a new immersive digital art gallery located within the Melbourne Convention Centre. The gallery spans 3,000 sqm with 11-metre-high walls and screens of various shapes, sizes and contours, creating a multi-sensory experience for guests.
3. A hot air balloon can fit up to 24 pax
Soaring high above various locations in Victoria, Global Ballooning Australia can take groups of up to 24 people in one basket. Instil a core memory within any incentive group as the hot air balloon rises thousands of metres above ground to witness a breath-taking sunrise. The once-in-a-lifetime experience lasts almost three-and-a-half hours (including at least an hour spent floating in the sky). It is a surprisingly great team-building activity as it takes a considerable amount of team effort for passengers who pitch in to help get the balloon up and deflate, fold and pack the balloon up a pickup truck post-flight.
Already operating in Melbourne’s CBD and the Yarra Valley, Global Ballooning Australia recently added Mansfield as a launch site. The small alpine town is surrounded by a colourful patchwork of farmland, forested hills, snowy peaks, mountain pastures and snaking waterways. Autumn’s generally calm weather conditions and unique local topography above Yarra Valley and Mansfield make it some of the most flyable spots in the state.
Guests can unwind with a sumptuous breakfast after the flight at the nearby Balgownie Estate in Yarra Valley or host a meeting at one of its light-filled meeting rooms. The 30-hectare vineyard, accommodation, restaurant, cellar door and spa property is an hour drive from Melbourne CBD or Tullamarine Airport, and 5-minutes from Yarra Glen township. Guests can also enjoy a decadent drink in their new wine and cocktail bar, or a wine tasting session hosted by the Balgownie Wines team in their new Cellar Door.
4. A luxury cocktail bar on wheels
Making its debut at the AIME show floor this year is bespoke luxury coach company Luxcoach. Whether you’re trying to impress a VIP group with a first-class airport pick-up, explore wineries in Victoria, elevate your next corporate meeting, or simply head to the next event venue in style, Luxcoach’s full butler service, on-board bar and luxurious leather interiors truly bring a Midas touch to any occasion.
The coach, which spans four metres high and 13 metres in length, comes complete with powder room facilities, a Bluetooth stereo and a 50-inch LCD TV for all your presentation needs. Luxcoach can host 15 passengers and covers up to 250 kilometres of road travel within Victoria. A second coach is underway with plans to operate from Sydney in 2023.
5. Australasia’s newest convention centre
Just in time for the reopening of New Zealand’s borders, Ōtautahi Christchurch is welcoming international delegates back with the launch of its Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre. Te Pae Christchurch General Manager Ross Steele shared, “Our first full year of operations is already looking positive. We have 63 conferences in our books, of which about 20 per cent are international.
The centre features 24 meeting rooms, including a riverside banquet room (1,000 pax banquet-style), up to 3,000 sqm of exhibition space (a 200-booth exhibition hall) and a 1,400-seat auditorium configurable into two completely autonomous spaces.
6. Sydney’s newest unique venue
WINX is Sydney’s newest world-class events venue at Royal Randwick. Named after the legendary horse who enraptured the nation, WINX boasts a multitude of flexible, light-filled meeting and event spaces spanning over two floors. The open-air rooftop space offers views towards the eastern suburbs, ideal for conference breakouts or a pre-dinner cocktail party. Other venue highlights include extensive rigging capabilities, ample branding opportunities through the 80 screens available throughout the venue as well as high-impact LED cubes and IPTV technology throughout the precinct.
7. AIME lost the buzzer but found its voice
To keep the vibe high and meetings running on time, AIME engaged Aussie pop star Brihony Dawson and the team from SongDivision as resident Timekeepers. The buzzers and bells were ditched. As meetings concluded, a DJ played tunes to get everyone on the move – and Brihony Dawson, AIME’s energetic emcee, ensured that everyone had a pep in their step.
Silke Calder, AIME’s event director, said the show allowed “buyers and exhibitors to not only form meaningful connections but have a lot of fun doing so. Injecting some colour and personality into the show programme is just one example of the many changes visitors to AIME experience this year.”