New format Americas Summit in West Palm Beach draws 866 delegates

By Luke Barras-hill |

IAADFS has confirmed to TRBusiness that 866 delegates attended the Summit out of the 878 registered.

The 2022 Summit of the Americas attracted 269 buyers as registered delegates totalled 878 over the course of the four-day event held at the Palm Beach County Convention Center (10-13 April).

Of the buyers’ figure, 156 were non-members of IAADFS, with 71 IAADFS member companies and 42 in the ‘Travel Retail’ category, which includes speciality retailers.

Exhibitors totalled 239, with 292 (non-exhibiting) suppliers.

The remainder of the 878 registrants comprised 52 affiliates and members of the press.

The proportion of attendees from outside North America (Caribbean, South America, Central America, Europe, Mexico) was 43% of total visitors.

Michael Payne, President and CEO, IAADFS.


Speaking at the Summit’s traditional closing press conference, held today (13 April), IAADFS President and CEO Michael Payne was upbeat: “Overall, it’s been very positive from our perspective. I feel good about those numbers. Hopefully it builds some momentum for next year.”

Asked by TRBusiness to characterise the mood among buyers on the ease of navigating the trade floor, which featured walkways across two levels flanked by exhibition stands and private meeting rooms, Payne said: “The buyers I’ve spoken to liked the accessibility of it; they didn’t find it too hard to walk from one end to the other.

“One of the things we should have done better is market the [Summit Lounge] networking area.”

Given this year’s Summit of the Americas is the first to have taken place in a physical format since 2019, Payne acknowledged that many of the suppliers attended to gather information on this year’s event, and to scope out the new venue and format to determine whether to invest.

While many attendees have relayed positive feedback to IAADFS and suggested improvements to the event, Payne says a number of exhibitors would prefer to be housed within an exhibition hall.

A decision on whether to revert to this format, as in previous years, would need to be discussed, with the results of a post-event survey expected to be instructive in this regard.

“That’s a big decision for us [switching to a large exhibition hall] some people want to be in a hall or stay in private rooms,” continued Payne. “The idea will not be to have booths scattered around. There is no decision yet and we need to get some facts. We are open to dialogue on changes to make things easier.”

Among the questions facing the association is how to address what is currently a noticeable lack of representation from beauty category exhibitors, and deciding whether to keep with the volume of education sessions (seven) or narrow that down.

IAADFS is committed to hosting the Summit of the Americas at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, adjoined to the Hilton West Palm Beach hotel which hosted the Opening Cocktail (pictured), for another two years.

Payne added: “Clearly we have to have content as people are asking for it, but is seven sessions too many?”

On the prospect of a tie-up with ASUTIL to host next year’s Summit, which will return to Palm Beach in 2023 as part of a three-year agreement, Payne added: “Because of Covid, it probably wasn’t the best time to test the financial arrangement that we tried for three years [with ASUTIL] as we only had one show [in 2019 before the 2020 Summit was cancelled and held virtually in 2021 – Ed].”

Payne stresses that while the dialogue with ASUTIL remains strong and a future partnership is not off the table, given the situation with Covid-19 it doesn’t make sense at this time to collaborate given the challenge to revenues.

“We never really got a strong three years but the economics don’t work so well,” added Payne. “We take the liability for everything and they were guaranteed a sum that was paid every year, but we aren’t going to make the same type of revenue after this year’s event and I doubt that will happen anytime soon. I think ASUTIL will probably go back and have their own event.”

TRBusiness staged a special Americas edition of the highly acclaimed TR Consumer Forum, spotlighting the latest customer insights and regional air traffic forecasts.

As part of a busy education programme, TRBusiness hosted a well-received regional edition of the Travel Retail Consumer Forum on Tuesday 12 April at 09:00 EDT.

For more on the education sessions, including the TR Consumer Forum Americas Special Edition, stay close to TRBusiness.

To watch an exclusive interview with Michael Payne, President & CEO, IAADFS, in the TRBusiness March/April e-zine click here.

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