I recently transitioned from one of the event delivery teams at Ashfield Meetings & Events to the Sales Support team. I set myself a personal objective to connect with industry leaders and influencers to learn more about the MICE industry as a whole and to keep abreast of industry trends. When an invitation to IBTM World arrived in my inbox from Barceló Hotels & Resorts I was thrilled and eagerly accepted the opportunity.
It was my first time attending IBTM World and I was a little apprehensive as to what to expect. Email communications pre-event specified that over 15,000 people were attending to meet the 3,000 exhibitors. I knew the event would be filled with like-minded people wanting to exploit the networking opportunities and my schedule was filled a few weeks in advance, including one-to-one meetings, networking hours, breakfast sessions and dinner meetings.
I arrived at midday into Barcelona and bumped into a former colleague. Not only was it nice to see a friendly face away from home but it was also great to be networking from the offset. Walking into Fira Barcelona, it made an instant impression. I stood at the top of the escalator overlooking a sea of exhibit booths giving me a newfound sense of pride for the work our own in-house exhibit team deliver.
I had an hour to spare before my first appointment so I set about familiarising myself with the exhibit hall, taking in some of the designs and finding the locations of the educational sessions, which were free for everyone to attend. There were seven themes which you could investigate based on your personal preferences: industry trends, engagement and experiences, risk management, innovation, disruption/technology, sustainability/CSR, professional development and business development/strategy. Whilst it would have been great to attend a talk on each, I chose to focus on those relevant to my role. A talk by Ciara Feely from MPI was particularly insightful and I look forward to using her ABC guide to structure my next proposals.
The appointments I made pre-event provided a great structure to the day. I could have sat and spoke to each person for an hour, but as they were relatively short appointments (20 minutes each), it meant that I was able to grab a coffee or quickly drop into other booths on the way to my next appointment to exchange business cards (or dance the Tango with dancers from Argentina!).
On the Wednesday evening, I attended a nautical-themed, hosted dinner at Barceló Atenea Mar. We had a pre-dinner drink on the terrace with spectacular views of the sea. The dinner itself was impeccable.
Being on the Sales Support team, I have the opportunity to recommend hotel/venue options and activities for clients every day. Introducing myself and having conversations with our preferred suppliers has been extremely beneficial to me and in turn, will benefit our clients. By working in partnership and expanding our level of expertise with our suppliers, we can continue to deliver certainty and impact to our clients through our events and exhibits.
Overall, it was a fantastic opportunity and I’m looking forward to using the learnings to create better solutions for our clients. I am looking forward to attending next year already!