“Replicate the social interactions of the live event”

"Give Me Five" - Five questions for David Thompson, Event Director IBTM World

"Give Me Five" - Five questions for David Thompson, Event Director IBTM World

Five questions for David Thompson, Event Director IBTM World. The exhibtion who had to cancel the live event in December in Barcelona is coming up with a virtual IBTM World.


Timothy Aldrich, Trainee Communications, GCB
Which different formats does IBTM World Virtual offer to enable participants to connect and interact with each other online?
IBTM World is all about making connections, so it was very important to us when designing the virtual event that we replicate the rich and rewarding social interactions of the live event as closely as possible. All Hosted Buyers attending IBTM World Virtual will be pre-qualified in the usual way. They will carry out ten appointments with exhibitors over the three days at a time convenient to their geographical location. There is a facility for buyers and exhibitors to send out invitations to appointments at a mutually convenient time. At the agreed time, attendees simply log in to the virtual event and they will be able to conduct their appointment face to face. In addition, buyers and trade visitors will be able to request ‘walk up’ meetings with exhibitors via a chat function throughout the three days of the event, with the option to convert directly into a video call if required. As well as virtual meetings, exhibitors will be able to sign up to host online destination presentations.

Christian Funk, Redakteur, tw tagungswirtschaft
You already organized virtual events or virtual elements of an event. Why will be IBTM World 2020 better than other events before?
IBTM World Virtual is an online event on a larger scale than virtual events we have run in the past. This is an event which will bring the IBTM experience direct to your screens, so rather than one or two elements of a show being online, the event will be adapted to a virtual platform. As a result, we have worked incredibly hard to ensure that the same engaging and inspiring IBTM experience that we have all come to expect will be delivered via the virtual event. There will be a comprehensive programme of content and many of the key features of the live event, tailored to take place online. The online event will incorporate three full days of one-to-one business meetings with high quality, pre-qualified buyers, ensuring that exhibitors and Hosted Buyers receive valuable and tangible business benefits from attending. There will also be a facility for virtual ‘walk up’ meetings.

Attendees will also be able to access our market-leading knowledge programme with a flexible and user-friendly mix of live and on-demand content with our brand-new feature - IBTM TV. This will feature cutting-edge topics such as sustainability, virtual events, wellbeing and technology. It will also include the high-profile industry speakers that we have come to expect from IBTM World, including this year’s keynote speaker Pancho Campo - former tennis professional turned high profile events producer who has run events with former US President Barack Obama and former Vice President Al Gore. In addition, Hosted Buyers will benefit from dedicated content tailored specifically for them with the IBTM Inspire stream, a separate track which is all on demand – with sessions for associations, corporates and agencies. There will also be a new programme of inspiring content tailored to those running experiential events in our Exceptional Experiences stream. IBTM World Virtual will take place over three days, from 7am to 10pm, meaning that more people from different time zones around the world will be able to join us, therefore opening up more opportunities to do business and connect with our events industry colleagues around the globe.

Sina Goy, Online-Redaktion, tw tagungswirtschaft
You were preparing for a „live” IBTM World until September before you finally decided that IBTM World takes place completely virtual. How disappointed are you that you had to cancel the exhibition? And how was the feedback from your partners and exhibitors relating to this probably inevitable decision?
We were all planning for a live event in December, however, as the travel situation across Europe and the wider world remains very changeable, we took the decision to transition to a virtual event. It was a difficult decision to take, and we are of course very disappointed that we will not be able to bring the industry together in person in 2020. Our team and our partners in Barcelona have worked incredibly hard on IBTM World and while we are very sorry that the physical face-to-face event will not take place, we are confident that moving to virtual allows us to provide a place for the global business events industry to connect and to do business. Our partners and exhibitors have been incredibly supportive throughout this global pandemic and we are very grateful for their understanding and strong support. Along with many of our colleagues across the industry, we are keen to get back to meeting face-to-face and we are looking forward to meeting you all in person in 2021.

Martina Neunecker, Head of Communications, GCB
Last year’s show premiered the ‘Event Business Accelerator’ for young entrepreneurs. Will it return this year? Are there other initiatives at IBTM World to innovate business events?
Our inaugural Event Business Accelerator (EBA) last year was a huge success, with the entrants showing an outstanding level of business innovation and creative entrepreneurship which we were delighted to be able to support. We are currently looking at Event Business Accelerator and how it will work in the virtual environment, and we will be able to announce more details in due course. In terms of other initiatives to innovate business events, IBTM World’s prestigious and long-standing Tech Watch Awards will also form part of the virtual event this year, and the deadline for entries has been extended to the 16 October. Finalists who can demonstrate innovation, a sound concept/business model and value to the MICE industry in the technology sphere will have the opportunity to pitch their company online to the judging panel on days one and two of the event. The winner will be announced on IBTM TV on Thursday.

Kerstin Wünsch, Chefredakteurin, tw tagungwirtschaft
IBTM World is already experienced in organizing virtual components or even a complete virtual event – how is it possible for companies to make a virtual event a financial success?
It’s very similar to attending a Hosted Buyer-led physical event. Those who put in the work in advance of the show will reap the benefits in terms of the number of leads and opportunities for business, and there are tools that we provide that can help with that. In the virtual space, for example, as soon as exhibitors sign up, they will start to benefit from our promotional tools which can help them gain visibility and exposure. Making sure exhibitor profiles are as complete as possible is a vital first step. Then when the appointment scheduling opens, exhibitors should take the time to select those Hosted Buyers or exhibitors they would like to meet with and request appointments, ensuring they log in regularly to accept and decline appts and send new requests. Finally, prepare for those appointments. Research buyers in advance and have tailored information available to present in the meeting. Rather than one standard presentation for every meeting, listen to what the customer is interested in and make sure you are able to assist them with that need.