AIBTM Debuts in Chicago, June 11-13

The Americas Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (AIBTM) is taking place for the first time in Chicago this year, running from June 11-13 at McCormick Place. This year’s overarching theme is: “Defining the Future of Meetings… Together.” Sharing in that discussion, there are 50+ new exhibitors scheduled to attend, ranging from the Monaco Government Tourist & Convention Authority to Visit Savannah.

Some attendees are arriving early to AIBTM for an event at Wrigley Field to watch the Chicago Cubs play the Cincinnati Reds on June 10. The event officially kicks off the next night with the AIBTM Welcome Party at Navy Pier starting at 7 p.m.

As in past AIBTM shows, there is a generous amount of educational sessions throughout the exhibition. A crowd favorite, the Fast Track Learning sessions are quick 20-25 minute talks about a host of topics relating to meetings and business in general, located in the Lecture Theater. And on June 12, join Prevue for our InFocus Live event where executive chefs from the Chicago area will prepare their favorite regional dishes followed by a Q&A session.

Crowdsourcing via social media is going to be a priority this year so make sure you’re following AIBTM on LinkedInFacebookTwitterYouTube and i-MEET.

We spoke with Michael Lyons, AIBTM Exhibition Director, for an advance take on what to expect next month. We hope to see you there and make sure you stop by the Prevue booth and say howdy. And as always, if you’re a buyer, supplier or vendor who would like to share something new and innovative with the industry, please email me at

Prevue: Regarding the tagline, “Defining the Future of Meetings… Together,” what is the future of meetings and how is AIBTM going about defining it?

Michael Lyons: We’re excited about gathering input on this compelling and timely issue from attendees at AIBTM. What better way to arrive at solutions to our industry’s pain-points than to crowdsource our attendees and stakeholders on the front lines of meeting planning and harvest their insights and expertise?

How is AIBTM 2013 in Chicago meeting/exceeding expectations so far in terms of attendance/interest?

We’ve seen a substantial increase in both hosted buyers applications and GCO’s coming to Chicago. We are expecting over 50 new exhibitors, as well as many returning exhibitors who were not participating in AIBTM 2012.

What is the general consensus about moving the show to Chicago?

Chicago is well known for its meetings and conventions services, as it is ranked by meeting planners as one of the Top 5 cities to host meetings. In fact, McCormick Place is one of the largest convention centers in the country, housing over 50 events this year alone. It is also centrally located and easily accessible for planners and exhibitors coming from all over the world. We wanted to offer our attendees a world-class experience, and Chicago allows us to do so with award-winning hotels and airports, one of a kind entertainment, cultural, history and sightseeing opportunities.

How else is AIBTM evolving/innovating from the last two years?

Technology is a hot button right now; everyone is talking about how they’ve used Skype to communicate with their networks and which apps to download to stay in touch. AIBTM is going to bring these advancements to the show as a crowdsourcing platform to gather insights from attendees.

The evolution of the industry will also require the integration of more hybrid meetings, although face-to-face meetings will continue to provide value in creating lasting connections. We are living in a ‘kinship economy’ where relationships in business still matter, but with the focus on technology still climbing, planners will need to find a way to combine the two.

What can we expect specifically from some of the keynoters?

We are very fortunate to have two insightful and relevant keynote speakers this year. J. Walker Smith, principal of The Futures Company, will frame the future of meetings as more social and relationship-based. With the kinship economy still evolving, Walker will stress the need to understand and leverage face-to-face bonds to improve and sustain business outcomes.

Seth Mattison will provide valuable insights into the future of meetings, specifically from a workplace standpoint. Seth is a gifted expert in workforce trends and his generation—the Millennials—and will be presenting not only on what it takes to attract and retain the best and brightest talent of every age, but how meeting planners can successfully collaborate cross-generationally in the workplace.

What are some sessions you think are going to be really successful? Which are you particularly excited about?

AIBTM has a heavy education lineup filled with intensive sessions that will add tremendous value to attendees. One session I’m particularly excited about is The AIBTM Great Association Debate. We are gathering thought leaders of the most influential associations in our industry for a panel debate on where the meetings and incentive industry is headed and the nature of future challenges. This groundbreaking session is sure to produce some top-level thinking and provide an array of potential solutions to issues plaguing our industry.

The AIBTM Great Association Debate is moderated by Christine Duffy, president/CEO, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

Speakers include:

Paul M. Van Deventer, president/CEO, Meeting Professionals International (MPI)

David Dubois, CEO, International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE)

Martin Sirk, CEO, International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA)

Deborah Sexton, president/CEO, Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA)

John Graham, CEO, American Society for Association Executives (ASAE),

Allison Summers, chief staff officer & managing director, Society for Incentive Travel Executives (Site)