kicked off its 2018 meetings industry event Tuesday at the Fira Barcelona Gran Vía convention center
in Spain, with a record 77,500 appointments scheduled between exhibitors and hosted buyers. About half of the approximately 2,800 buyers are first-time IBTM World attendees.
This year's show features nearly 3,000 exhibitors representing 150 countries. Demand from the Asia Pacific region is particularly strong, representing a 23 percent increase in booth space compared with last year's event.
Technology is a central focus of this year's exhibition: The Exploratory Zone, home to tech-focused exhibitors, is situated in the middle of the show floor and spotlights interactive displays of virtual and augmented reality, 3-D printing and projection mapping, among many other innovative solutions. The Zone also features a Tech Bar, run by event-tech consultants Dahlia+, where experts can answer all manner of practical tech questions and facilitate hands-on demonstrations. "Our attendees told us they wanted more access to tech experts, as well as seeing the tech itself," said new show director David Thompson
. "And so we've given them just that."
IBTM show management also announced a new agreement with Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism
, naming the organization a Premier Partner for IBTM World 2019. The first-ever such partnership for IBTM World will allow DCT Abu Dhabi to leverage its relationship with the show to gain access to a global audience of planners. The deal builds on the nation's 2030 Economic Vision plan to enhance social and economic development by ramping up its focus on hosting international business events.
IBTM World 2018 concludes Thursday, Nov. 29. Next year's show will take place Nov. 26-28, 2019, at the same venue in Barcelona.