AIMEbassador Leanne Zeid talks events, Oprah and her top tips for AIME

21 January 2023 • ,

IHG Hotels & Resorts is a long-standing supporter of AIME and Leanne Zeid has personally been involved in the event for over 15 years in different capacities. With just three weeks to go until AIME 2023, the AIME team chatted to Leanne about her connection to AIME, her life in the business events industry and her top tips for exhibitor and buyers to ensure they make the most of their time at AIME 2023.

Have you attended previous AIMEs? Tell us about your experiences?

I have participated in AIME for the majority of the last 15 years either as a Hosted Buyer or as an Exhibitor.  I have also presented at education sessions and previously worked for an event agency who co-ordinated all of the Hosted Buyer flights, so I have definitely seen how much work goes into the organisation of this event!

It’s AIME’s 30th Birthday – can you share one of your favourite memories?

I have been fortunate to attend AIME several times as a Hosted Buyer but a definite highlight for me was the opportunity to participate in a famil to the Yarra Valley and experience a sunrise hot air balloon flight over the valley, moments like these stay with you forever.

What’s changed in your time in the industry?

So much has changed!  The development and growth of the hotel sector, the diversity of new destinations targeting business events, new airline operators, enhancements in technology, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the passion of the people who work in this industry.

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

Being a part of the event planning team to welcome Oprah and her audience to Australia is still a highlight of my career.  When you see the raw emotion of people appreciating an incredible experience they have been given and you have been a part of bringing that all together, there is nothing better.  Receiving an invitation from Oprah to join her at the U2 concert in Sydney as a thank you was the icing on the cake!

Who are your strongest influences in the industry right now?

I am very fortunate to work for an organisation surrounded by inspiring leaders who provide the opportunity for input, collaboration and personal growth, there are way too many to name!  I also really enjoy engaging with our Customer Advisory Group, a group of senior industry leaders that are very generous with their time, their knowledge and their support of our business. Outside of my work environment, I have an amazing group of women who I have met over the years in the industry who have become a wonderful friendship group that inspire and encourage me both personally and professionally – they are my Tribe!

Have you met any partners or made new business contacts through AIME?

There are endless opportunities to meet people at AIME!  I have recruited people standing in line for fish and chips, I made a friend for life sitting next to them on a transfer to the welcome event and I have connected with new business partners in the hotel lift by wearing my lanyard!

What are your top tips for networking?
  • People tend to gravitate to people they already know, give yourself a goal to meet a certain number of new people
  • Introduce people to others, especially if they are new to AIME
  • Ask questions and listen
  • Follow up after meeting someone
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the industry?

Recruiting and retaining talent

What are the key trends you are seeing in your area of specialty?
  • It has been a very positive start to 2023 with strong lead demand and short lead times continuing
  • With the majority of corporate employees now working a portion of their week from home, companies are organising more events throughout the year to support team culture and engagement
  • The return of international travel has seen an increase in offshore incentive enquiries however the increased cost of flights and seat availability for some destinations is still proving challenging
  • With the increase of special events and the return of entertainment events, availability is proving challenging in some destinations
  • Wellness, social events, the opportunity to immerse in local culture and give back to local communities all continue to play an important part of an event program.
What are you most looking forward to at AIME 2023?

We have 20 hotels exhibiting on the IHG stand, along with additional hotels exhibiting on destination stands so this year there will be nearly 40 IHG colleagues attending AIME, our largest cohort to date.  I love the energy, excitement and enthusiasm that comes from us all being together to be a part of team IHG.  I know we are all looking forward to reconnecting with our customers and meeting new people.

What would you most like to learn about at AIME?

How our sector is looking to collaborate to set us up for future success.

What are some of your go-to places to visit when in Melbourne?

Love a morning coffee, lucky there are endless options in Melbourne!  Hardware Lane has some great restaurant options and is located directly across the road from our voco Melbourne Central hotel.  Recommend sunset drinks at this hotel with city skyline views and an amazing terrace area. And for all of the bread lovers out there, you must try the Blacksmith Bakers Bread at this hotel! To immerse yourself in the city, you can captain your own boat down the Yarra or adventure a bit further to the beautiful Mornington Peninsula region and experience the seaside town of Sorrento staying at the stunning new InterContinental Sorrento.

What are your predictions for the industry for the next 3-5 years?

We will continue to see advancement in the technology space, the importance of human connection will still be there however I think we will have more conscious travellers and businesses will be mindful of their carbon footprint.

What are 2-3 things you would advise someone who is attending AIME for the first time?

Hosted Buyer

  1. Wear flat shoes
  2. Visit the IHG Hotels & Resorts stand 😊
  3. Immerse yourself in all of the opportunities presented – whether they be educational, social or business


  1. Do your homework – know who you are meeting with, know their business – the appointment time goes very fast!
  2. Buddy up with a colleague or industry friend who has been to AIME before
  3. Be present, avoid burying your head in your laptop and your mobile phone



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