IBTM World 2021 Reunited the Events Industry In Barcelona

December 14, 2021

As the first face-to-face IBTM portfolio event to take place in two years, IBTM World once again succeeded in reuniting the global meeting, incentives, conference and events industry in Barcelona, Spain. Held Nov. 30–Dec. 2 at Fira de Barcelona, the annual industry event attracted more than 7,000 attendees, who participated in more than 30,000 pre-scheduled, one-to-one business meetings, as well as a slew of networking and premium education opportunities.

“This has been an incredibly rewarding three days, and it has been amazing to see people reconnect after so long apart,” said David Thompson, IBTM World event director. “For many, this may have been the first event they’ve attended in two years, and it’s fantastic that we were able to play our part in bringing the industry together again.”

He continued, “The whole team has worked exceptionally hard to make this event a success in quite challenging circumstances, and I’m so proud of what we have achieved. Stepping away from our screens and enjoying some face-to-face interaction, inspirational education sessions and one-to-one business meetings has been wonderful.”

More than 1,200 exhibiting companies from 70 countries attended IBTM’s flagship trade show and conference, including the CVBs of Germany, Dubai, Istanbul, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Hungary, Croatia and Norway, as well as Atout France, Meet in Ireland, Turespana Convention Bureau (Spain), Hilton, Titanic Hotels, Hyatt and GL Events. Many hailed the show as a positive experience.

“The fact that everyone’s here proves how much we’ve been longing to come back together for in-person events,” said Nick Tinker, sales manager at Event Solutions, Cvent. “Also, the quality of meetings this year has been fantastic. The footfall has been lower than previous editions, which is expected, but that’s allowed us to have higher quality meetings, have more time to build relationships and make new connections. This has also meant that buyers did make an effort to speak with as many exhibitors and make the most of their attendance.”

According to IBTM officials, of the more than 1,400 high-quality hosted buyers from 72 countries who participated in the show, almost half were completely new to the IBTM portfolio, representing more opportunities for exhibitors to find new prospects. 

Delegates from big-name global agencies, corporations and associations were also in attendance, including HelmsBriscoe, HPN Global, First Incentive Travel, HPN Global–World, Citigroup Inc, Pfizer, Michelin and General Motors, to name just a few. 

IBTM World 2021

In keeping with past years, innovative and targeted learning opportunities abounded at the show, including specially curated education streams for association and corporate buyers, as well as sessions as part of IBTM Accelerate, which offered attendees an interactive experience showcasing solutions, applications and technologies on specific meetings and events industry challenges.

Designed to provide tangible learnings and innovative solutions for attendees in a post-pandemic world, a schedule of inspirational educational sessions under the theme of “New Business, New Tech, New World” revolved around four topical themes (trends and technology; gamification and engagement; the future of event planning; and career and personal development) and were delivered by expert speakers from the United Nations Climate Change, LinkedIn, CrowdComms, VisitScotland, BBC Creative and more.

New to IBTM’s educational programming this year was the Association Program, created with the support of the European Society of Association Executives (ESAE); American Society of Association Executives (ASAE); African Society of Association Executives (AfSAE) and Asia-Pacific Federation of Association Organizations (APFAO), along with the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). Designed to spark fresh ideas, encourage peer-to-peer learning and sharing of best practices, and help deliver tangible solutions to real issues facing the associations and events sector, the program followed three core themes: inspire, exchange and solve. 

Additionally, IBTM’s Elite Corporate Program, supported by American Express Meetings & Events, explored key insights specifically focused on the needs of corporate hosted buyers, with themes including the future of the meetings experience, restarting events and evaluating their success, and peer-to-peer learning and insights. 

On the first day of the show, the IBTM World Trends Watch Report, one of the industry’s most comprehensive and far-reaching studies on the future of meetings and events, was presented by Alistair Turner, managing director at EIGHT PR & Marketing, and touched on key trends affecting the industry, from the micro to the macro, looking at the differences in global regions and investigating the role of vertical markets. 

Inspiring keynotes were also a big highlight of the event. Kicking off the program, Alba del Villa Olano, an expert in digital transformation and a serial entrepreneur, encouraged attendees to take the fear out of digitalization and how to use this as a tool to grow the reach and impact of their events. On day two, Gian Power, founder and CEO of TLC Lions, inspired attendees to use the power of storytelling to grow their businesses, while on day three, Dr. Darren Coleman, a brand strategy and experience specialist, outlined how event organizers can win through the power of experiences.

The highly anticipated Stand Awards returned to IBTM World this year with Discover Moscow winning for Best Large Stand, Beon Worldwide taking home the Best Small Stand award, and Barcelona Convention Bureau receiving the Best Stand Personnel award.

IBTM World 2021

IBTM’s technological amenities also exceeded expectations, with the IBTM World app celebrating its best year ever with more than 3,600 downloads, more than 142,000 page views and a 60% adoption rate among hosted buyers. Meanwhile, nearly 900 exhibitors representing 71% of all exhibitors took advantage of Emperia IBTM’s digital business card exchange system, resulting in the exchange of 20,000 digital business cards. 

All attendees were required to follow a comprehensive range of health and safety guidelines and practices during the show, including showing proof of COVID-19 status to enter and wearing masks. As an added layer of security, hosted buyers received complimentary medical insurance, and all visitors were able to purchase PCR testing if needed.  

As an enhancement to the in-person show in Barcelona, IBTM World Online is taking place Dec. 14-15. Designed by Sector Global, the event technology and management agency that delivered IBTM World Virtual in 2020, the interactive platform will allow digital exhibitors, hosted buyers and visitors the chance to network and do business with some of the world’s leading suppliers, buyers and destinations. 

Along with pre-event matchmaking, one-to-one video meetings between buyers and suppliers, enhanced exhibitor directories and an exhibitor zone, the digital show features a full schedule of on-demand educational content, including the complete IBTM World Barcelona Knowledge Program consisting of more than 65 sessions from leading industry experts. 

Additionally, hosted buyers will benefit from dedicated content tailored specifically for them with elements from the Association Program, The Elite Corporate Program and IBTM Accelerate available on demand.

“We believe the best way to experience IBTM World is to be there in person, to maximize the many opportunities available at the live event, and to meet and connect with exhibitors and colleagues,” said David Thompson, IBTM World event director. “However, we do understand that some people may be unable to travel, especially those from longer-haul destinations, so we have evolved our offering in line with the new business landscape to better meet the needs of all our customers. Combining online as part of the mix allows our community the opportunity to engage with new markets and offer additional flexibility and extra layers of engagement.”

IBTM World will return to Fira de Barcelona Nov. 29–Dec. 1, 2022.


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.