Biometric facial recognition, event bots and virtual reality were all showcased at this year’s Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo (AIME), which took place over 20 and 21 February at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC).
Alongside the latest developments in event tech, other highlights included revamped industry insight sessions, extensive networking, food and even fashion, with many travel accessories on display.
While AIME was noticeably smaller in size compared to 2017, with a dip in delegate and exhibitor numbers—37% of hosted buyers attended compared to 55% the previous year, with over 300 exhibitors against more than 400 in 2017—show manager Reed Travel Exhibitions says the focus was on bringing to the show floor quality new buyers, new exhibitors and fresh educational topics to reconnect with the MICE community. The show welcomed 25 new exhibitors, with 39% of attendees attending AIME for the first time.
“This year’s show really focused on the three core pillars of knowledge, connections and experience to continue its impact on the growth of the industry,” says Angela Sciacca, AIME project manager at Reed Travel Exhibitions.
A big draw this year was the 2018 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, part of the Knowledge Programme, presented by American Express APAC, with a focus on meetings in China and rate shifts for air and accommodation (see "Business meetings going local, high-tech: Amex").
One of the show’s regular features, the Saxton Up Close and Personal sessions, delved into the future of event technology, with sessions on artificial intelligence and other disruptive technologies. For some hands-on interactivity, AIME also showcased the latest tech developments, with a range of immersive features included on the show floor for the first time in the event’s history.
These included Teleportivity, powered by Worker Clicks, a system that blends human connections and technology via a touch-screen, video-based service platform. It welcomed delegates as they arrived at the show, offering a ‘live help’ information service.
A biometric facial recognition system, presented by Info Salons, was also put to the test by delegates, showing how the technology can be used to validate identification and streamline badge production.
A sensory experience, meanwhile, was on offer from MCEC, using Facebook Spaces Virtual Reality. The immersive technology gave guests the chance to tour the venue’s new expansion in high definition and visualise their own event in the space.
The fun factor in technology was also on display with an automated 'Selfiebot' that roamed the show floor taking selfies, while attendees were invited to help complete a giant picture-by-numbers mosaic wall, consisting of 1944 social media images that were taken during the show. A virtual reality (VR) ‘Pit Stop Challenge’ was also available, a custom-built VR experience specifically created for Formula 1. The game pitted two people head-to-head, testing speed and accuracy.
Networking was also a key element, with cocktails and entertainment held on the show’s first evening. The Northern Territory Convention Bureau showcased many unusual culinary delights at its stand: feta with green ants and crocodile kabana were both on the menu.
The 26th edition of the show marked the last time AIME will be managed by Reed Travel Exhibitions. Next year’s AIME, taking place on 19 and 20 February, will be organised by Talk 2 Media and Events on behalf of show owner Melbourne Convention Bureau.