Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) Acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Narrm, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present, and to Elders of all First Nations communities that visit MCEC.

AIME 2022 Back and better than ever

AIME 2022 - Back and Better Than Ever

Following last month’s resoundingly successful Asia Pacific Incentive and Meetings Event (AIME), we chat with Event Director Silke Calder of Talk2 Media & Events about the challenges, successes and ‘pure joy’ of AIME’s triumphant return.

After a two-year hiatus, we were thrilled to once again welcome AIME to its home at MCEC. As APAC’s largest and most celebrated business events showcase, AIME matches event buyers and producers from all over the world with destinations and services on offer from over 230 exhibitors. The first national tradeshow to welcome international delegates since the beginning of the worldwide pandemic, this year’s event marked a major milestone in the recovery of Australia’s events and tourism industry – an industry that (pre-COVID) contributes tens of billions of dollars to the Australian economy each year.

The three-day event ran from 21-23 March and featured over 230 exhibitors from Australia, and overseas destinations including New Zealand, Japan and the Philippines. Offering both in-person events and a five-day virtual platform for those unable to attend in person, AIME 2022 facilitated over 14,000 meetings and was attended by over 1,660 delegates from as far abroad as Hong Kong, Qatar and South Africa. The AIME Knowledge Exchange connected delegates from all over the world for a day of innovative education and community building, with speakers including leading futurist, tech entrepreneur and growth hacker, Steve Sammartino, as well as CEO and co-founder of Who Gives A Crap, Simon Griffiths, and Australian broadcast journalist Mimi Kwa as MC.

While the tradeshow is always a highly anticipated feature of the events industry calendar, this year’s AIME was imbued with unprecedented levels of excitement and celebration, after organisers were forced to cancel the event in 2021 due to the ongoing impact of the global COVID pandemic.

‘It just blew me away’, says AIME Event Director Silke Calder of Talk2 Media & Events. ‘There were no nerves, no hesitation. Just pure joy and celebration to be finally reconnecting and getting back to what we all do best.’

Running with the theme ‘Reconnect, Revive, Thrive’, this year’s show was bursting with colour, creativity and music, with a focus on blue-sky thinking and unlimited opportunity, as well as sustainability and – of course – celebration. Highlights included a DJ, event MC and live roving bands, stilt walkers, a zero-waste café, botanical cocktails and custom treats designed by MCEC’s Executive Pastry Chef, Alessandro Bartesaghi. An immersive sensory experience at THE LUME Melbourne culminated in a raucous impromptu conga line and the optimism and excitement in the air was palpable throughout the entire event.

But the planning and delivery process was not without its setbacks. Changing border restrictions, supply and staffing challenges and unpredictable requirements around COVID safety meant logistics were being revised on an almost daily basis right up until event day. Outside-the-box thinking resulted in some ingenious solutions, including the creation of a ‘Destination Showcase’ with a giant screen allowing delegates to virtually ‘meet’ with exhibitors from Japan who were unable to attend in person.

‘Leading up to the event there was so much uncertainty, so many ‘what ifs?’ confides Silke. ‘What if the borders close? What if density limits change? What if exhibitors get cold feet? But we worked closely with the MCEC team to anticipate and accommodate changes before they became problematic. Flexibility and communication were a huge part of the planning process and luckily for us, MCEC delivered in spades.’ And the outcome? ‘Fabulous. Pure Joy.’

Planning is already underway for AIME 2023 – which will see the event’s community celebrating AIME’s 30th Anniversary and we can’t wait to see what’s in store.

Silke Calder is the AIME Event Director AIME at Talk2 Media & Events . With over 20 years of experience in various fields including Advertising, Exhibitions, Membership Organisations, Event and Catering Management, Silke is a highly accomplished executive with a passion for producing world-class events for her clients and their customers.

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