By Lauren Arena
The revamped Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME) took place in Melbourne this week, kicking off what organisers hope will become part of the “grand slam” of annual industry events. Organised by Talk2 Media and Events, the three-day trade event began with a full-day Knowledge Exchange developed in association with PCMA. In addition to plenary sessions, a mini hackathon, and a series of break-out sessions, industry leaders gathered Monday for an invitation-only Leaders Forum, which examined emerging technology and consumer trends in the rapidly evolving Asia Pacific (APAC) region.
At the forum, economist and social commentator Bernard Salt examined the shifting demographics of China, India, and Japan, and explained how the rise of the corporate model in APAC will continue to create more opportunities for the business events industry.
“There are new businesses of scale and pace in Asia,” he said and urged attendees to “leverage the uncertainty in the U.S. and E.U.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Ayesha Khanna, CEO and co-founder of Singapore-based artificial intelligence (AI) solutions firm and incubator ADDO, discussed how the industry can embrace technology, using smart cities as one example.
“Smart cities make residents and visitors feel like the city is just for them,” she said, referring to the installation of cashless payment systems in Singapore to meet the needs of Chinese visitors and to a data-driven app in Dubai that tailored government services and updates based on residents’ behaviour (and digital footprint) rather than demographics.
Ultimately, the discussion led attendees — all of whom were CEOs of major venues, convention bureaus, and industry associations — to look at the implications of technology and challenges around data privacy and to weigh how such factors are shaping the customer journey.
PCMA President and CEO Sherrif Karamat moderated the forum and challenged attendees to identify and engage their customer’s customer.
“You have to re-examine the role you play in attracting and shaping who your customer really is — and knowing your customer’s customer to personalise their experience,” he said.
“Today,” he added, “having a successful event is just table stakes. If you can’t provide a platform for successful events then you’re not even in the game. How are you allowing your customer to grow their business within your community? This is critically important.”
Karamat also encouraged industry leaders to step up and become agents of change.
“We are too dependent on governments and don’t really understand our power [as an industry] in transforming communities,” he said.
“Reconsider new stakeholders in an evolving business ecosystem, instead of focusing on traditional players. We need to focus on new ecosystems that allow us to leverage the power of what we do.”
He added: “The power of this region is incredible and you all have an incredible opportunity. With that opportunity comes incredible responsibility. Understand the role you can play in order to have a greater say in the development of your community, both economically and socially.”