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AIME: On board with change 


The Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo (AIME) was held at the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB), 20-21 February. During the expo, Mash Media's global portfolio director Iain Stirling chatted to Karen Bolinger, MCB's CEO, about the latest business developments, and more. 

Matt Pearce, Talk2 Media & Events, has taken over from Reed Exhibitions Australia as AIME's new event organiser. Why Pearce?
Matt Pearce has a depth of experience from his history in the exhibitions side and also his approach.

In Melbourne, we pride ourselves on how we approach our business and it’s a bit of a philosophers call / philosophical approach. The partners we like to do business with have the same ‘DNA’, and [Pearce] has got that. He’s energetic, passionate, authentic.

He’s got skin in the game so he knows this has got to succeed...He has done so much with us, which tells me about his investment in this to make it successful.

Looking back at AIME over the last couple of years, what requires the most change?
[Pearce] talks about this. One of the things he has done is to go out and talk to the exhibitors and buyers about what they want...They’ve come back saying they want really good quality buyers - more of them and more international.

So that is his target: international.

He talks about three things in particular: Seniority, quality, and quantity. Having the decision-makers, which are actually qualified to buy, in the right numbers.

Have you seen an increase in business from specific markets in the last five years?
We’re really strong on the business association markets, then within that is medical, engineering, scientific and aviation. The corporate market is really interesting as it is definitely there and back and healthy. The incentive market is very strong out of China, which is very much in the direct sales sector. The US is starting to come back and then the UK a little bit.

But the glory days of the uber incentives where thousands of people pay for everything has changed completely.

You have the backing of the local government. Do you report to them directly in terms of what you do for the CVB?  
Yes. They’re a major funder, partly owned by the state government. We report back through VisitVictoria and directly to the minister.

Pearce is doing more with exhibitors and buyers on Monday at AIME. Discuss the effect of this on your own media buyer programmes.
We’ve changed over the years - we've morphed it. The Monday [at AIME] had a really strong education component; we started that last year, we’ve rolled out the nominees this year, which we believe is the right way to go. Because to bring in all those people, you’ve got to justify to their community why they are coming for five days to a two-day trade show.

Now, we handing over the reigns and changing ownership from a sponsoring Melbourne Edge to the sponsor profiles, and make sure the content is really strong, and then [Pearce] can manage the entire beginning to end.

For more information, click here.

Pictured above: AIME official press conference - Karen Bolinger and Matt-Pearce (on the right) | Pictured below: AIME - Day 1 

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