Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

February 26 2014

Hosted Buyer Programs – The New Model for Trade Shows?

Michael J. Lyons, Exhibition Director – AIBTM
The notion of “hosted buyer” is steadily building buzz in the U.S. Imported from Europe, a hosted buyer program in a nutshell, is a business vehicle that brings qualified meeting buyers and sellers together with a high likelihood to book real business with each other through pre-arranged face-to-face meetings at the show.

“Hosted,” simply means that the show organizer picks up the cost of travel and hotel expenses if the buyer is qualified and has been accepted into the program. Though the “hosted buyer” concept has been around overseas for many years, its introduction into the U.S. meetings market didn’t start until 2011, when AIBTM was launched in Baltimore. AIBTM’s Hosted Buyer format quickly established itself as a popular alternative to the traditional trade show model, and has since been adopted by other meeting groups.

Sallie Coventry, Portfolio Director, Meetings and Events for Reed Travel Exhibitions, describes hosted buyer programs as “a significant part of the evolution of the meetings market”.
“Now, more than ever, ROI in time and money is paramount,” Coventry says. “The hosted buyer program provides highly efficient face time for business to happen”. “In the past, exhibitors who did not prepare properly, and as a result didn’t get the anticipated business leads, would blame the show,” she says. “But the hosted buyer model guarantees that each exhibitor will have appointments and thus justify their investment”.

Small companies that exhibit can also benefit because it allows them to attend the show and get solid leads where they might not otherwise in the past due to budget constraints. Participants are required to fulfill eight appointments per day over the two days of the trade show, which still allows five free hours each day to walk the show floor. The planners also take advantage of CEU (Continuing Education Units) accredited education sessions fueled by MPI, PCMA and others, and also enjoy a number of daytime and evening networking opportunities. All in all, the entire experience for the buyer meets all of their needs—business, education and networking.

Here’s a short list of advantages to a Hosted Buyer program:
•    Buyers prequalified
•    Schedule arranged through matching software
•    Alternative to traditional trade shows where buyers are approached as
they walk by
•    Knowing which meetings are scheduled ahead of time helps to prepare
•    Education and networking opportunities

•    One stop shop: exposure to multiple destinations/venues in short period of
•    Minimal commitment with little or no cost
•    No registration cost
•    Customized schedule arranged through software
•    Education and networking opportunities

For more information about the AIBTM Conference in Orlando June 10-12, and their Hosted Buyer program, visit: http://www.aibtm.com/.