‘Be flexible and adjust quickly’; Q&A with AIME event director Silke Calder

Silke Calder is the new event director for AIME 2021.

CIM spoke with AIME’s newly appointed event director Silke Calder about the state of the events industry as she prepares for the 2021 show.

Six months out from the show – what’s your first priority? Listening to our community has never been more important than at this moment in time and the conversations we are having with the industry will continue to shape AIME 2021 and beyond.

This goes hand in hand with our priority of connecting quality exhibitors and buyers to get business back up and running and their key targets for the year ahead accomplished!

We have exciting news coming this month, with announcement of our Technology Partner who will be powering our virtual platform, AIME Online. We are also getting ready to launch our new AIMEbassador Program and can’t wait to share details with you all very soon!

What learnings will you bring from Messe Frankfurt? Having worked for one of the largest trade fair organisers, both in Dubai and in Frankfurt, I was able to develop great insights into both elements of venue and event organisation.

I had already investigated the value of the virtual world in exhibitions prior to COVID-19. This experience is certainly helping shape our new hybrid platform for AIME to deliver both a better user experience and return on investment.

AIME 2021 is a hybrid show – will this be permanent? The world has changed rapidly in the last six months and every business moving forward will have to rethink their planning. At the moment, the virtual/hybrid world is a necessity, but also brings many new opportunities with it. We are keen to continue developing our hybrid model for future years and innovating at every turn possible.

What’s your take on the events landscape for next year? We can’t pretend that everything will just go back to the events landscape as we knew it, certainly not for 2021.

However, this does not mean that change won’t equal progress. It will very much be a domestic approach for every country with the added virtual landscape for the international market. However, the need for face-to-face experiences will never disappear. It is in the DNA of our industry and in our nature as human beings to want to meet and connect in person.

As I’m based in Melbourne, I’m counting down the days until I can set foot in the office with the team and connect with my friends for a coffee!

How will you manage the ongoing uncertainty? In these uncertain times we have learnt to be flexible and to adjust quickly! Will there be an AIME 2021 hybrid event? Absolutely. Will there be international exhibitors physically in Melbourne? With exception of New Zealand, probably not. But that doesn’t mean that AIME will not go on. Our international delegation can join us virtually as we take AIME global!

What we can be certain of is that we will keep the community updated every step of the way. The AIME community has always been at the heart of every plan we have made for 2021 and we continue to take everyone with us on this extraordinary journey. With Tourism Australia and Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing a funding boost for the business events industry, we take that as reassurance that we are on the path back to business and its revival.

AIME 2020 was the last industry event to happen before Covid restrictions came in – how does it feel to be the first event for the industry to meet again after 12 months? With IBTM World now going 100 per cent virtual, AIME 2021 is now going to be the first event for the industry to meet again. It comes with great responsibility and we understand the significant role AIME has in helping this industry recover. AIME 2021 will be at the right time next year as we believe that March 2021 is going to be the time when businesses look to become active again. We can’t wait!