When the Scheedle debuted at AIME

30 January 2023 • ,

Andrew Hiebl has a long affinity with the business events industry and AIME. Andrew returns to AIME 2023 as an AIMEbassador and shares his thoughts on the changing world of business events and his favourite AIME moment. Wait for it….

It’s AIME’s 30th Anniversary – what does this milestone mean to you?

As an AIMEbassador, it is an opportunity to give back to a show that has played such a major role in my career every year – from working in venues, convention bureaux, and industry advocacy. AIME has always been the ultimate meeting place for Australia’s business events industry. To do business, expand networks, and catch up with colleagues and friends from across the world.

I have been involved with AIME for many years now… 22-years in fact (half of my life). My first AIME was the 8th Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event back in 2001 when I was promoting the Albury Convention Centre as the Events and Operations Manager.

I remember in the early days when the show broke for a buffet lunch. I also recall trying to fill last minute appointments as an exhibitor on the day before the show by approaching a huge series of buyers at trestle tables and asking if they would be interested in meeting. As a newby to the industry at that time, it was as daunting as speed dating, with high pressure to fill your dance card before all the available players put up their sign saying “full”.

What’s your most memorable #AIMEMoment?

My most memorable experience as an exhibitor was bringing in two live Scheedles (a sheep-poodle cross) on our Albury Wodonga stand. The promotion required an animal management plan sign off from both the MCEC and the AIME team. I will let the video do the talking, but I still get asked about the Scheedles to this day.

What’s changed in your time in the industry?

Innovation in show and marketing technology has certainly been a game-changer. Everything from event apps and online management of appointment schedules to the introduction of digital gamification and virtual venue walk throughs. These have all made connecting people and product promotion much easier in a tradeshow environment.

What do you think our industry will look like in 30 years?

I could be wrong, and I am biased, but I don’t think the need for people to meet in person, learn and do business will be diminished over the next 30-years. Rather, the meeting experience will be further enhanced by tech more seamlessly than it is today. If COVID has taught us anything, it is that technology presents more added value to the industry, than a threat of replacing it.

I also think that there will be a greater blurring of the traditional meeting, incentive, convention, and exhibition business event types over time. We are already seeing exhibitions offer more education content to attract buyers and conventions include incentive activities for delegates. The ‘festivalisation’ of business events will give greater attention to experiential learning, niche fireside chats, problem-solving, networking, through less traditional programming.

What’s one of the most memorable events you have attended and what made it so?

I’m a big fan of music festivals. And it is really hard to narrow it down to one favourite. But if I had to… it would have to be Bondi Beach New Year’s Eve 2006 featuring FatBoy Slim. While there are many layers as to why (not all of which I can report on), strong features included:

  • The journey to the event destination – road trip
  • First-class entertainment/content – FatBoy Slim
  • Amazing outdoor location/venue – Bondi Beach
  • Quality stage (on water), sound and lighting effects
  • Tight friendship group attending and passionate audience
  • Festival atmosphere beyond main stage
Who are your strongest influences in the industry right now?

Our future and emerging leaders. Historically, influence has gravitated around the loudest voices and those who have served the industry the longest. However, the future of the industry lies with our emerging leaders who in my view, will get more of a say in a post pandemic world.

What are your top tips for networking?

If you are an introvert like me, get out of your comfort zone. Networking is about expanding your connections, so ask questions to find out more about your newly met contacts. Be prepared, actively listen, and find areas of common interest – especially non-work-related interests. Don’t find yourself back in the office after an event and regret that you didn’t network effectively.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the industry?

The biggest current challenge facing the business events industry is the issue of workforce and skills shortages. Demand for in-person business events has rebounded so strongly that it is placing stress across the supply chain that is finding it difficult to fill job vacancies. And there is no single solution to resolving this problem. It will take a myriad of interrelated solutions with shared responsibility across industry and government – from reimagining career pathways and skills delivery to immigration and attracting under-represented cohorts.

What are some of the key trends you are seeing in the industry?

We are certainly seeing a renewed, reenergised, and urgent focus on sustainability in business events. While the rise of sustainability is not a new trend, the industry has now firmly taken on the responsibility of delivering on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) goals – it is no longer someone else’s problem.

From an environmental perspective, this is being driven by Australia’s commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The business events industry is playing a leadership role through the introduction of carbon calculators, local food and beverage offerings, waste-to-landfill reduction, and accreditation programs to name just a few initiatives.

Likewise, recognition of Australia’s first nations peoples has progressed over the last decade through the introduction of acknowledgement of country and welcome to country ceremonies at business events. However, this has been elevated further as governments at all levels and business place a bigger spotlight on Australia’s indigenous culture – including the Commonwealth Government’s commitment to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart. As a result, we are seeing an acceleration of Aboriginal art being incorporated in venue design, indigenous language permeating welcome statements, indigenous inspired menus with locally sourced native ingredients, and support for indigenous businesses across the supply chain.

What are you most looking forward to at AIME 2023?

While technically I organised several activations at AIME 2022, I had to miss the show and run these events from home due to a positive COVID test just days before. So, I am genuinely keen to connect with all of my industry friends after a 2-year absence from AIME.

There is also a lot happening to reform business events industry representation at the moment, and I hope that we are in a position to launch and release more details on that topic at AIME 2023.

If you could meet or chat to one person at AIME who would it be?

I would love to meet our new federal Minister for Trade and Tourism at AIME 2023, Senator the Hon Don Farrell. There is no better place to present and explain the entire ecosystem of our industry than at Australia’s largest business events tradeshow – not to mention showcasing our international competition. I’m making it my personal mission to get him there.

Is there anything on your bucket list while you’ll be in Melbourne?

Making a visit to the Immigration Museum. While I have lived in Victoria and worked in Melbourne for many years, prior to moving to Canberra, I have never visited this cultural institution. As a son of glassblowing parents who immigrated from Austria to Australia in 1976, I am passionate about my European heritage and always hungry to learn more.

What are your predictions for the industry for the next 3-5 years?
  • The business events industry will be able to better articulate its contribution and value to the Australian economy, which will be recognised by all levels of government.
  • Technology will further enhance the in-person delegate and exhibitor experience rather than replacing it.
  • Our emerging leaders will play a larger role in influencing the future of the industry, suggesting a distinct movement away from traditional meeting design.
What are your top tips for making the most of your time at AIME?

Plan your time. AIME consists of many components beyond the core tradeshow including opportunities for education and networking. Review the program well in advance so that you don’t miss key activities relevant to your role now… and where you want to be in the future.



Find your event inspiration - subscribe today to receive the latest news from the AIME community