AIME, set and match as Melbourne celebrates its return as the nation’s events capital

The 31st Asia Pacific Incentives & Meetings Event had a lot to celebrate.

Melbourne was buzzing last week and it wasn’t just Swifties in town pushing up hotel room rates.

The other big show in the city was the 31st Asia Pacific Incentives & Meetings Event (AIME), the sixth for organiser Talk2Media & Events.

Matt Pearce, Talk2Media’s CEO, didn’t call the thousands of visitors to the show ‘AIMEies’ but he did celebrate the fact that AIME was back at its best.

“AIME has been incredibly successful over the last few years,” said Pearce. “We do it by doing what we do best [and] if you do it right, you don’t give people reasons to leave.”

Talk2Media’s Matt Pearce kicks off AIME’s three day program.

This year was the biggest show in years, with 63% more exhibitors than last year, testament to the work behind the scenes by event director Silke Calder and her team.

“[An increase of] 200 exhibitors in one year is a huge achievement and over 50% of the buyers have never attended any before – we’re pretty proud of this,” she said.

“For us, it’s all about the AIME community and how we can engage with them throughout the year and listen constantly, and I hope people will notice this.

“I’d like to think that our reputation has changed compared to the past.”

Calder puts the surge in interest down to the attention to detail the team take in designing the show, including the floor plan to make it work for both attendees and exhibitors.

“We spent a lot of time thinking about the flow of the show,” she said.

Event director Silke Calder and the team celebrate the show’s growth this year.

Another area that the Talk2Media team have put a lot of thought into is sustainability, with the show looking to be carbon neutral by 2050.

“We’re on that journey and we’ve committed to the 2030 emissions laws, and we’re committed to 2050,” said Pearce. “But you can’t just turn it on.”

Silke lists the changes made for this year’s show beginning with it going totally paperless.

“It is significant because the amount of floor plans that we’ve printed, the amount of bags that we have produced [at previous shows], we got rid of everything,” she said.

“You can now go to the digital kiosk, click on a stand and it shows all of our exhibitors. There is so much more visibility as well because they are all listed with a description.

“We’ve also changed our menus and tried to do a lot less meat. And instead of having a lot of dietary requirement stations everywhere the menu is designed that very much covers everyone.”

The rubbish bins were made from recycled cardboard and even the cups at the Welcome Event at Grazeland were made from recyclable material.

The menus were designed to be as inclusive as possible.

“I don’t know if anybody noticed, but we’ve taken it that far,” Silke said. “There has been significant progress compared to previous shows.”

Melbourne Convention Bureau CEO Julia Swanson said the success of this year’s show is testament to the work put in over the last six years.

“We’re really happy with how it’s gone,” she said. “And we will just continue to build on it from here.

“It’s been an interesting ride. To see the show transition from the first international exhibition to reopen post Covid to a massive growth trajectory over three years. Full credit to Talk2Media for everything that they’ve put into the show when listening to all the stakeholders.”

Melbourne Convention Bureau CEO Julia Swanson says the city is welcoming back big incentive groups again.

Swanson says that Melbourne has also gone through a similar growth trajectory with this year seeing Melbourne Airport exceed 100% of its international aviation capacity.

“That’s a really significant development for our city” she said. “It is absolutely fantastic to welcome our valuable tourism market from China. Last year, 75% of all the corporate meetings and incentives coming into Melbourne came from China and greater Greater North Asia. And this highlights the strong demand for the incentive market.

“The incentive programmes coming into Melbourne are set to bring more than 22,800 visitors between now and the end of next year and that is continuing to grow every single week.”

Swanson highlighted the city’s ability to host so many major events simultaneously, including Taylor Swift’s series of concerts, as testament to its appeal.

“I’ve heard a few stories of the MCG with 96,000 people being beamed to the US because it was Taylor’s largest concert,” she said.

“And a lot of the American market was asking ‘where are all the car parks?’ And we’re like, no, it’s on the city’s doorstep. So, you know, we’ve got the event infrastructure that is close to the city. It’s walkable and has free public transport, so we can move people around and that’s great for us, because people want to come for business events, but they also want to go out and do stuff.

“As Australia’s event capital, our state is geared up for this. We have that broad range of activities and options available for our delegates.”