Graeme Barnett

Travel And Tour World is glad to present an interaction with Graeme Barnett, Senior Exhibition Director, IBTM World, Reed Exhibitions. He shares his insight about the AIME Hosted Buyer Program event, AIME’s contribution in promoting the Asia-Pacific region and much more at the prestigious travel event.

Travel And Tour World – How do you feel looking back now that you have been associated with Reed Exhibitions for 20 years?

Graeme Barnett: The Reed team today is slightly more surreal. However, tomorrow we might answer differently, maybe. It therefore, has been our focus to put on the best show and we feel a bit proud as well as exhausted that this is our last one.


Travel And Tour World – Tell me few key points that you worked really hard to make AIME successful?

Graeme Barnett: That was a very great targeted approach which definitely reaped rewards. We received feedback from exhibitors out there stating that the quality of the event has really been great. And this time we have also increase the appointment times which are little bit longer and there was a longer gap between these appointments which meant that buyers are able to get all their appointments in timely manner. It has paid off really well.

We have had a very interesting show as well as extended show times as well. Moreover, we have also given people more time to connect and get around the show.


Travel And Tour World: We understand that few exhibitors did not turn up this year at the AIME event. What, according to you might have been a probable reason?

Graeme Barnett: One of the main challenges with this particular market segment is that every year it becomes more competitive so getting the right buyers to attend every event is really getting tough. So national convention bureaus are not saying that we are alive and suppliers that make up the stands are not satisfied, therefore and they do not wish to come back. So for the last couple of years the levels of outbound tourism business from Australia to South East Asia has dropped off and they are not thinking we are alive and so they are not thinking about investing in us.


Travel And Tour World: Tell me how AIME is helping present their Asia Pacific region in the global scenario.


Graeme Barnett: This year we have witnessed a decline in the APAC countries exhibiting but we do have countries like Philippines, Malaysia, Korea that are active on destination presentation. Also we are having Indian state presentations, so they are having a great show as well. While some people have benefitted quite a lot, some might not have been able to leverage as much as they had expected.

And even in the future, there will be a better representation of the Asia Pacific region in this event.


Travel And Tour World: How is the UN Year for Sustainable Tourism contributing in developing the meetings industry?

Graeme Barnett: I think sustainability has been a trending topic maybe for the last six years and it has definitely come back again as a popular topic.

You keep hearing about events being plastic free and all it needed was David Attenborough’s film about how plastics have been impacting ocean life and it has ensured sustainability comes right back into focus and any event can be plastic free. Moreover there is an urgent need for awareness in this sphere.

So I think sustainability going to become quite a widespread word in the upcoming time.


Travel And Tour World: In a hypothetical situation, if you get to organize this show again this year, what would you do to make it better?


Graeme Barnett: It is a difficult question since we have already tried everything this year to make the event a grand success. I feel that the very fact that people are talking about the event makes it quite special, apart from the fact that it has been showcasing the venue Melbourne to the world.


Travel And Tour World: Do you think about starting a new event in Sydney in competition to AIME?

Graeme Barnett: No, the market here is quite a local market and is not big enough. Also, there is already an event that runs in Sydney and it is not a trade show, as it is a table top event that has gone on spectacularly. AIME got its credibility, it just needs to evolve and we should take it to the next evolution and ensure strategies we have framed is in sync with the strategies that MCB (Melbourne Convention Bureau) and other convention bureaus have for this show as well.


Travel And Tour World: Do you feel that the number of exhibitors at AIME have increased this year since hosted buyers have been here to understand the market, meet new clients and negotiate?

Graeme Barnett: Hosted buyer model is directly linked to the revenue of the show. So the more revenue, more buyers and similarly more exhibitors we can be hopeful of attracting.


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