For the first time, and hopefully the last, the IBTM World fair in Barcelona was held at the same time as the FIFA World Cup.
Lost opportunity in Barcelona or not?
One could say that such a unique situation had marketing potential, but probably due to numerous controversies related to the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, none of the national DMOs stands opted for this option that would catch the attention of the event participants.
However, there were some football accents to be noticed at Fira Barcelona. Visitors to the Faroe Islands stand wore blue football shirts, while at the stands of Denmark, Croatia, and Brussels, matches of these teams in the third round of the group stage were watched. Sometimes you could hear the fans’ cheers. I even heard a comment that the potential of several hundred-inch screens was finally utilized and for over 90 minutes, everyone was looking in one direction with excitement on their faces.
On the one hand, it’s a shame that the Poland-Argentina match started at 8:00 pm, after the end of the trade fair, but on the other hand, maybe it’s for the best…
The best national stands at IBTM
The most interesting and functional, in my opinion, this year were the booths of Hungary, Japan, Brazil, and Catalonia.
As usual, I am enchanted by the trade fair stands of Slovenia, Ireland (with their soft, green carpet resembling grass and their funny sheep as always) and our Baltic friends from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland.
The huge kangaroo pictures at the Australian stand and the slogan “Don’t All Business Events Come with Kangaroos?” undoubtedly caught attention.
This year, unfortunately, Scotland was missing from the fair, and the England stand looked particularly minimalist. The IBTM Stand Awards returned, and I’m not surprised that Visit Norway / Norway Convention Bureau won an award in one of the categories. If you want to put on a show at your stand, it’s worth learning from the Norwegians. It’s not just about the well-known serving of drinks in ice cubes with the necessary gloves, but also about a performance by one of the convention bureau representatives in a fox costume. It may be funny, it may be strange, but it worked.
Knowledge Theatre and Accelerate Stage
I had the opportunity to participate in several educational sessions at the Knowledge Theatre and Accelerate Stage, although as always, I have the impression that the most interesting sessions are organized at the same time.
During IBTM World 2022, speakers presented the latest market trends and marketing research in educational sessions, including the Global Meetings & Events Trends report presented by AMEX.
In addition, the annual IBTM World Trends Watch Report 2023, prepared by Alistair Turner, showed how current global events are shaping culture, influencing both the events created by meeting professionals and the people who participate in them. The report can be downloaded from the IBTM website.
The session with Meg Strahle on the inclusivity of people with disabilities in the MICE industry was unforgettable. The question of how to make events accessible to people with disabilities in both the real world and in online or virtual settings is still being asked.
Poland at IBTM
The #DestinationPoland Happy Hour celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Poland Convention Bureau will stay in my memory for a long time.
This year, Poland was represented by as many as 16 companies and institutions.
Another interesting highlight of the Polish stand for me is the story of a spruce tree from Greater Poland (Wielkopolska) and its connection to Portugal. I hope this crazy story will have a positive ending.
I really liked the relaxation capsule (Wellbeing Hub & Quiet Room) prepared by Helen Moon from Eventwell. The Brain Break slogan worked, and many people took a nap there.
A spontaneous meeting of content creators in the MICE industry (or, as some prefer to call them, B2B influencers) under the CultureCreates hashtag, which ended with a live broadcast on LinkedIn.
Throughout the IBTM at Fira Barcelona, one impression kept repeating itself in the comments of the people I met. “I feel like I know you, I know your face, but have we met face-to-face before?” There was a blurring between reality and the online world. This shows that despite the pandemic, those who wanted or could, thanks to the internet, online events, and social media, met new people or even worked on projects together. When these people met face-to-face at the fair, they felt like they had known each other for years. This is undoubtedly one of the few benefits of pandemic times, networking and building business relationships have not stopped but gained a completely different dimension.
This is not new to me, as we have been organizing instameets (meetings of mobile photographers’ communities, Igers) for ten years, and now this phenomenon has also appeared in the MICE industry. Nothing can replace meeting people, so I am glad that the IBTM trade show has returned to its form and attendance levels from before 2020.
TikTok from the trade show #IBTMworld and my brief summary.
@callmejaro ♦️ It’s been great to meet together at #IBTMworld in Barcelona, network, talk, laugh, walk a lot, learn and explore cities, regions and other destinations exhibiting at Fira Barcelona. #barcelona #ibtm #ibtm22 #eventprofs #hiszpania #targi #destinationmarketing #firabarcelona #catalunya #events #miceblogger #micevlogger #miceindustry #culturecreates #katalonia #biznes #destinationpoland #poland #b2b #polandcvb @visitSpain @catalunyaexperience @eventwelluk #meetings #tradefair #polska #visitpoland #polandtravel @polandcvb #polonia #networking #networkingevents #granvia2barcelona #barcelonatiktok #barcelonaevents ♬ The Nights – Avicii
IBTM World, which this year explored the relationship between events and culture, concluded with over 100,000 business meetings and over 10,000 attendees gathered in Barcelona for three days of the event. Over 2,200 exhibitors from 150 countries were present at IBTM World 2022, which explored how the technology we use, the experiences we create, and the places we visit create culture for businesses and incredible event potential.
In Barcelona, there were over 3,500 buyers, including prestigious corporations, associations, and agencies hosted buyers, such as the European Union of Medicine in Assurance and Social Security (EUMASS), Pfizer, COSMOPOLIS, International Stereoscopic Union, SAUDI Telecom Company, UNICEO (United Network of International Corporate Events Organisers), The British Pain Society, Maritz Global Events, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Citigroup Inc., and CWT Meetings & Events.
Commenting on the conclusion of the event, David Thompson, IBTM World Event Director, said:
IBTM World, which this year explored the relationship between events and culture, concluded with over 100,000 business meetings and over 10,000 participants gathered in Barcelona for three days of the event. There were over 2,200 exhibitors from 150 countries around the world. IBTM World 2022 explored how the technology we use, the experiences we create, and the places we visit create culture for businesses and incredible potential for events.
During the IBTM event, it was announced that a new three-year contract has been signed with the Barcelona Convention Bureau and Fira de Barcelona, which will host IBTM World in the city until 2025. The new agreement is based on an existing 18-year relationship between the three organizations, and the next edition will be confirmed at Fira Gran Via on November 28-30, 2023.