IBTM World Barcelona, the first face-to-face event in the IBTM portfolio in two years, has been hailed a huge success by organisers, closing today (2 December 2021) with over 30,000 pre-scheduled one-to-one business meetings having taken place, and more than 7,000 attendees joining for quality one-to-one business meetings, networking and education in Barcelona.

The meetings satisfaction score reached 4.7 out of 5 during the three-day event with many attendees commenting on the quality of their meetings and their optimism for the future.

Over 1,200 exhibiting companies from 70 countries around the world attended the three-day event, including the CBs of Germany, Dubai Tourism, Istanbul, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hungarian, Croatia, and Norway, Atout France, Meet in Ireland, Lithuania, Turespana Convention Bureau (Spain), Hilton, Titanic Hotels, Hyatt, and GL Events. In addition, several new exhibitors attended, such as the Montalbano Group, Manchester City Football Club, Sardinia Convention Bureau, Basquetour, and The Celtic Collection.

Commenting on their experience at IBTM World BarcelonaMarina Pegoraro, Executive Account, Regione Autonoma Della Sardegna, said: “IBTM World has always been important for the region of Sardegna. Our partners have been able to reconnect with buyers and trade contacts and tell the world about the region. It was invaluable for our stand sharers to attend the show to help gain exposure for their brands as we recover together from the pandemic. We would not have missed the opportunity to be part of the first major meeting and business trade show since the start of the crisis.”

Nick Tinker, Sales Manager at Event Solutions, Cvent, said: “We’ve had a positive experience overall, for one, the fact that everyone’s here proves how much we’ve been longing to come back together for in-person events. 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.”

Ben Myatt Trenholm, Director Speakers and Conferences at Thinking Heads said: “Three years ago I didn’t have time to speak to all the people I wanted to speak to in the timeframe I was given, so this year it has been much more meaningful to have full 20-minute conversations explaining to my prospective clients exactly what we do, and they also had the opportunity to explain what exactly they need.”

“I had 36 meetings in three days and some of these meetings were not even in my diary. The organisation and the content of IBTM World is always fantastic and I want to congratulate the entire team.”

Over 1,400 high-quality Hosted Buyers were present from 72 countries, and almost half were completely new to the IBTM portfolio, representing more opportunities for exhibitors to do business with new contacts.

Delegates attended from globally renowned agencies, corporations and associations including HelmsBriscoe, HPN Global, First Incentive Travel, HPN Global – World, Follow red Branding Experiences, Oriflame Cosmetics, Saudi Aramco, Citigroup Inc, BBVA France, Knauf, Pfizer, Michelin, General Motors; International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AIPPI), China Electronics Chamber of Commerce, European Society of Cardiology.

Liat Zakai, Project Manager of Kenes, said: “From an event organiser perspective, IBTM World was incredibly well run; from the shuttle at the airport, which made me feel like a VIP, to the offer of an additional night’s accommodation to make my stay more comfortable, I thought everything was very well thought out. The attention to detail was noticed and appreciated. Thank you for hosting this event and for bringing us back together.”

This year for the first time the Association Programme was created with the support of the four main global organisations for association professionals: 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), as well as the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). The programme followed three core themes: inspire, exchange and solve, designed to spark fresh ideas, encourage peer to peer learning and sharing of best practice, and deliver tangible solutions to real issues facing the associations and events sector.

In addition, IBTM’s Elite Corporate Programme explored key insights specifically focused on the needs of corporate Hosted Buyers. Themes include: the future of the meetings experience, re-starting events and evaluating their success, and peer-to-peer learning and insights. This tailored programme of sessions was supported by American Express Meetings & Events.

Under the theme of “New Business, New Tech, New World” there was a schedule of inspirational educational sessions around four topical themes: Trends and technology; gamification and engagement; the future of event planning; and career and personal development, delivered by expert speakers from the United Nations Climate Change, LinkedIn, CrowdComms, VisitScotland, BBC Creative and more.

The IBTM World Industry Trends Report, one of the industry’s most comprehensive and far reaching studies on the future of meetings and events was presented by Alistair Turner on the first day of the show 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. The report can be downloaded by clicking here.

The highly anticipated Stand Awards returned this year with awards going to Discover Moscow, who won the award for Best Large Stand; Beon.Worldwide took home the award for best Small Stand; and Barcelona Convention Bureau received the award for Best Stand Personnel.

The IBTM World app celebrated its best ever year, with over 3,600 downloads, over 142,000 page views and a 60 per cent adoption rate among Hosted Buyers.

Nearly 900 exhibitors representing 71 per cent of all exhibitors utilised Emperia IBTM’s digital business card exchange system with in excess of 20,000 exchanges of digital business cards.

Commenting on the close of the event, David Thompson, IBTM World Event Director, said: “For me personally, this has been an incredibly rewarding three days and it has been amazing to see people reconnect after so long apart. 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.

“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 as a team. Stepping away from our screens and enjoying some face-to-face interaction, inspirational education sessions and one-to-one business meetings has been wonderful.”

IBTM World Online will take place from 14–15 December 2021 as an enhancement to the in-person event in Barcelona.