Culture creates business at IBTM World

Culture creates business at IBTM World

Building Business series Part 8

Marketing Manager, Nick Nagle, reveals IBTM World’s ‘Culture Creates’ campaign helped to reignite the global meetings and events industry by reinforcing the power of rich and diverse cultural experiences in business building.  Held in Barcelona from 29 November to 1 December 2022, the event generated over 100,000 face to face business meetings over just three days, beating its pre-pandemic record.

For more than two years, COVID robbed the world of meaningful conversations, and of experiencing culture in all its forms. The pandemic had a particularly catastrophic impact on the MICE industry, and we knew that we would have to do something bold and different for IBTM World 2022. We had to create a story that would refresh the conversations taking place around MICE, inspire event planners, and reignite this industry that we love.

Events have always been the place to create the connections that business needs. But the shift to more flexible and disparate work forces post pandemic has left a gap where business culture would usually be. This presents a huge opportunity for events and destinations to step in. Events are now much more than just places to connect - they are the place where culture lives in all its uniquely human variety. Yesterday’s connection makers are today’s culture creators – and so our campaign theme was born.

When we first had this idea for our #CultureCreates campaign, we knew we were onto something. We ran it by our partners and our customers, and the sentiment was overwhelmingly positive. Buyers said that it perfectly summarised how they, and their clients were feeling and operating. And our exhibiting destinations couldn’t wait to share how their unique and diverse cultures deliver better business results.

"Our mission to use gatherings of all sorts for culture creation is more important than ever for our clients. Large corporations who may have fewer offices post-pandemic are looking for ways to maintain their unique culture, something that face-to-face events can really help forge and maintain. Our mission for IBTM this year is to find great suppliers as always, as well as those who can help us deliver creative cultural experiences for our clients."
Grant Caplan, President at Procurigence, and IBTM World Buyer

Celebrating culture in all its diversity

‘Culture creation’ permeated IBTM World 2022, from our brand new Cultural Roadshows to our inspirational Knowledge Programme sessions, to our networking events and stand awards.

The Culture Roadshows were a new initiative devised to discover and showcase destinations whose unique cultures create exceptional experiences for event delegates. From the many exhibitors who responded to our call for entries, we were delighted to select four finalists – Meet Riga, Visit Hungary, DMC Menorca, Regione Sardegna and Barcelona Convention Bureau  ̶  who epitomised culture creation with their unique and enriching campaigns to wow first-time visitors. The winning destinations were featured in editorial and social media content in the run up to and during the face-to-face event in Barcelona, including in a 1-1 interview published on the IBTM global blog.

Our full line up of networking events returned with our official Welcoming Party on day one, which celebrated and showcased our many different cultures in an explosion of festive colour and live entertainment.  The following day, during networking hour, attendees could get social, and stop by stands to experience their local cuisines and culture.

And among this year’s highly anticipated Stand Awards Menorca Island DMC took home the award for ‘Best Culture Campaign’ which focused on two new concepts designed around sustainable event and travel opportunities, and experiencing the island’s unique culture through its people.

"As an ambassador of the destination Menorca, our receptive agency really enjoyed being able to explain all the assets and values that represent Menorca. To have competed at IBTM Culture Roadshow and to have been awarded Best Cultural Campaign is a great satisfaction with an impact of major visibility."
David James, Co-Founder of Events/Travels at DMC Menorca

Cultural trends and insights

IBTM World’s market-leading Knowledge Programme was designed around the theme of culture in all its forms, with three keynote speakers and five new session tracks - connections, business, careers, brands, and experiences.

In the first keynote, Anick Beaulieu from C2, one of the most forward-thinking business event agencies in the world, discussed how business entertainment can shape culture, using the C2 Montréal event as a case study. On day 2, Gareth Kelly, event lead on the legendary Dreamforce event, explored how SalesForce uses its empowering and inspirational events to bring better business results and create meaningful cultural experiences for businesses. And on the final day, Futurist, Activist and Entrepreneur Igor Beuker shared his strategic foresight on the issues that will shake up the events industry as he considers the question: What will the events look like in 2030?

"By building event design onto layers of company culture, it will provide you with a wealth of stories with which to develop content. It is these stories that allow attendees to be inspired, innovate back, and engage with your event on a deeper level"
Gareth Kelly, Senior Director and Head of Strategic Events EMEA, SalesForce

Among the most highly anticipated sessions, were two presenting the latest industry trends and insights, both of which highlighted the key role of culture in driving post pandemic growth.

In the introduction to the annual IBTM World Trends Report, now available for download, Alistair Turner, MD of Eight PR, reflected on the role culture plays in attracting new talent – a major issue for the MICE industry, asking, “is our culture one that aligns with the values of the next generation? One that prizes ethics and strong values, that cares about each other as well as the planet, that invests in wellbeing and that leaves a positive legacy. This is the experience generation; how welcoming are we, the experience creators, as an industry that they may wish to join?”

Revealing the findings of the American Express Meetings and Events 2023 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, Sofia Eriksson identified the rise of internal meetings due to working from home, and the growing importance of culture to event design as two trends that will shape the way we work and meet for 2023.


Records and recognition

IBTM World 2022 was a fantastic success, surpassing all our expectations. In exploring the connection between events and culture, we brought together over 2,200 exhibiting companies from 150 countries, and more than 10,000 attendees, including 3,500 buyers from prestigious corporations, associations, and agencies. Over 100,000 business connections were generated, with more quality one-to-one business meetings taking place per attendee than in 2019.

Customer feedback on the event has been overwhelmingly positive, as has industry reaction to our marketing campaign which won Silver at the Exhibition News Awards in March 2023 for ‘Best Trade Show Marketing Campaign’ and has also been shortlisted by the AEO and UFI for their 2023 event marketing awards. More proof, if it were needed, that Culture really does Create!