As told to Christopher Durso, Executive Editor
What's more challenging than running one huge international hosted-buyer show for the meetings and travel industry? Running two, which is what Jacqui Timmins finds herself doing as the recently appointed event director of both the China Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (CIBTM), which was held at the China National Convention Centre in Beijing on Sept. 2-4,2013, and the Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo (AIME), which will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre next month, Feb. 18-19.
Both shows are produced by Reed Travel Exhibitions, which hired Timmins based on her decades of experience in the travel industry, including serving as general manager for Travelscene American Express, general manager of supplier relations for Stella Travel Services, and general manager of global sales development for Qantas Airways. Recently Convene spoke to Timmins about her career, her dual show responsibilities, and her expectations for AIME 2014.
How did you get started in the meetings and travel industry?
I have been working in the travel industry for the past 25 years, working in senior management positions at Stella Travel Services, Travel-scene American Express, and Qantas Airways. Within various roles I was responsible for overseeing the delivery of many travel-related meetings, conferences, and events, and it was through the love of this that I began the search for a true meetings industry position. That's when I joined Reed Travel Exhibitions to head up AIME andCIBTM.
What do you like most about your job?
What I enjoy most is being able to work with a fantastic team, who have such passion for the meetings and incentives industry and are open to new concepts and approaches. There is also something very rewarding about working on a major event. Nothing really tops the adrenaline in the lead-up [to the event] and the satisfaction that comes with knowing an event was really successful.
How did your previous professional experiences prepare you for your current position with AIME and CIBTM?
Within these roles I managed events, including Travelscene American Express onshore and offshore conferences, as well as Qantas Platinum Club and Qantas Holidays Achievers events. While AIME and CIBTM are quite unlike anything else, working previously on major events with big international brands really put me in good stead for AIME and CIBTM. It gave me a really strong understanding of the business-events space and potential ways in which it can be improved.
Do you approach your work for AIME and CIBTM differently, as two unique events?
I do need to approach AIME and CIBTM as two unique events, because they are both very different. We present similar offerings to our attendees, but we're working within two very different markets. It's about knowing how to respond to the market for which you're working, and that all comes from getting to know the event and its delegates. We had a really great year at CIBTM [in 2013], and I'm hoping we can have an equally great year at AIME 2014.
What are you most excited about for AIME 2014?
Being my first AIME in the director's seat, I'm excited to see it all unfold from behind the scenes. I'm also really looking forward to witnessing and soaking up the energy in the room watching our attendees network and book some serious business. With a number of brand-new initiatives to support the business-events space, I think 2014 will be our best year yet.
What advice would you give to a young professional who is just starting out in the meetings and travel industry?
Attend as many events as you can. Travel as much as you can to learn about the different markets. Very importantly, don't be afraid to share your ideas. Creativity and innovative thinking is something that's highly regarded in this industry, and the next big idea might be yours.