The International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) is North America’s largest baking industry tradeshow, and as vendors and buyers from around the world prepare to descend upon Las Vegas September 7-11, the show’s international attendees are a prime focus for organizers.
“Our international guests are a big part of what makes the IBIE experience so valuable,” says Mike Cornelis, vice-president of American Pan, a Bundy Baking Solution, and chair of the IBIE international task force. “Their participation has transformed IBIE into the global platform it is today, fostering the cross-pollination of ideas, collaboration and the formation of new business relationships.”
In 2016, buyers from more than 100 countries made up approximately 30% of total attendees at IBIE. Mr. Cornelis says organizers are expecting to exceed international registration goals for the 2019 show. As of April, attendees from more than 30 countries already were registered, and that number is expected to grow to more than 100 countries by the time the expo doors open.
Opportunities abound for exhibitors and attendees to connect, learn and build relationships at IBIE. In order for exhibitors to take full advantage of their opportunity to connect with potential international customers, however, they need to be prepared.
“International attendees have a different perspective attending shows abroad and come to IBIE with different expectations,” Cornelis says. He recommends exhibitors have team members onsite who understand potential cultural differences dedicated to receiving international guests and also providing translators to give them a VIP experience.
“International attendees come to see the latest advances, learn where the industry is headed, connect with other bakers and attend the 100-plus sessions,” Cornelis says.
In addition to seeing latest and greatest advances in the industry, the biggest draws for international guests are the learning opportunities, specifically the IBIEducate program.
“IBIEducate is widely recognized across the global baking community as the largest, most comprehensive education program offered at a trade event and, in fact, is one of the primary drivers for international visitors coming to the show,” Cornelis says.
In addition to educational sessions held throughout the show, this year has a dedicated day of education on Saturday, Sept. 7— a day before the show floor opens — to help attendees maximize their time. Session topics will range from talent management to consumer trends to robotics. Cornelis says the learnings will be universally valuable and applicable across all markets.
IBIE also is partnering with international trade associations to share industry trends as well as opportunities and challenges emerging in their local markets. More information on these sessions and the education schedule will be available closer to the show.
With such a large international attendance, logistics for those traveling to IBIE from outside the United States are a huge undertaking, and one show organizers do not take lightly.
“Over the years, we’ve evolved our services and benefits for international guests, and in 2019, we are going even further by providing dedicated international support both before the show and onsite,” Cornelis says.
There is international support available to assist attendees prior to the show. Information is accessible through the international page on the IBIE web site, including answers to questions about international delegation discounts, the exhibition, the educational program, accommodations, registration and visa questions.
Once attendees arrive, there are registration counters reserved to serve international guests to facilitate easy check-in. The International Lounge provides onsite support for business meetings and informal networking with amenities such as Wi-Fi, refreshments and translators to help overcome language barriers.
When it comes to travel and visas, the process is generally a smooth one, Cornelis says. When international guests register in advance online, the registration company automatically generates visa letters. However, there is always the potential for hiccups. But show organizers are prepared to handle any such issues.
“Every year we have a small handful of guests who have some visa challenges, and we do what we can to help,” he says. “We have an international specialist on staff who has relationships with local embassies and has helped to facilitate visa challenges.”
In the end, attending IBIE is meant to be a positive, seamless experience for all guests, domestic and international.
“IBIE is the world’s destination for baking,” Cornelis says. “The U.S. is known for innovative baking technology and trends, and many of our suppliers time their product launches around our show. We know our international guests travel a long way and make a big investment in their participation, so we want to ensure their planning and participation in IBIE is as easy as possible.”