Last year I had to take a break from two conferences for which I’d gained a certain amount of momentum over the years, all because a little one emerged into this world in mid May. SGMP, which I’d attended every year since 2003, I missed in 2013 – and AIBTM, which I’d attended in consecutive years in Baltimore, I skipped last year in Chicago.
This year, thanks to my friends at Wyndham Hotels, I was afforded an opportunity to return to AIBTM in Orlando. I remember the first year I attended thinking it was the biggest show I’d ever seen, with enormous booths the likes of which I’d never stepped foot in. That was true – until four months later when I first set my eyes on IMEX. But this blog is not about IMEX – well I guess it is to some degree. It’s hard to have a conversation about one without the other.
The shows are similar. AIBTM is getting a reputation for being IMEX Jr. And there’s truth to that. There’s a lot of the same suppliers but the booths are a bit smaller, a bit less grand, there’s fewer destinations, particularly internationally, and overall there’s a bit less frenzy. Pace is a bit more relaxed. There’s less education, but by no means lesser education and there’s less networking events. But let’s face it – just how many networking events can I be at at one time?
In truth, if I had to pick just one, I’d pick IMEX. And not just because it’s in Las Vegas each year. But just because AIBTM still feels like a subset of IMEX. That I could get everything I needed in one place and then some at IMEX. But I love the fact that I can attend both thanks to my suppliers. This way it’s like doubling up my appointments. And the more exposure the better. I hope I get the opportunity to do both for years to come!