IMEX chairman Ray Bloom claims the 2009 show, the seventh edition of the worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events, has attracted the largest ever number of hosted buyers. “We are still thriving in difficult times because we deliver both quality and quantity.” Over 3,700 hosted buyers, according to provisional figures from IMEX, had come through the doors at the Frankfurt Messe during the show. Organisers estimated 3,500 exhibitors attended, from over 150 countries.
IMEX MD Paul Flackett said pre-show preparations had made it easier for the dialogue to start well in advance of the show “making everyone’s time at IMEX much more productive”.
There was great interest in the new Exhibition World website at the Mash Media stand.
Around 300 delegates attended the IMEX Association Day on the eve of the show and there was also great interest in the politicians’ forum “in particular because of what is happening with TARPs in the US”, says Bloom.
Green issues were prominent on the IMEX agenda, with a slew of awards for suppliers and organisers in this category at the Gala Dinner at the Sheraton Towers.
The importance of industry research was raised time and again at the seminars, and there was new data from an International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) annual survey and bold plans to collate new meetings data for a major new research tool from the Cologne Convention Bureau.
Among the destinations holding press conferences were Glasgow, Thailand and Melbourne, where CEO of the Melbourne Convention Centre, Leigh Harry, previewed the first Green six-star centre’s opening 30 May.
And the Melbourne Convention Bureau has not been sitting on its hands waiting for the opening. Bureau chief Sandra Chipchase told a press conference that a new performance tracker had shown meetings business increasing by half in the city, business that returned AUD$44 to the local economy for every dollar invested and produced a 17 per cent ROI.
The Melbourne centre is part of a AUD$1.4bn precinct development. The retail doors opening this September, making, according to Leigh Harry “practically a new suburb of Melbourne”.
There was a strong German presence on home soil, driven by the GCB. Germany continues to top the latest ICCA country rankings for Europe and behind only the United States worldwide, the third Meeting and Event Barometer 2009 announced at IMEX found that over 36 per cent of European organisers selected Germany as their top EU member state for events, 2.76 million of which were held there, up a percentage point on last year.
Ray Bloom acknowledged the difficult economic backdrop to this year’s show, saying that the meetings industry “is in a very different place to last year”, with fundamental changes to the way we work. “However, it is about human connections and, at this time, human connections have never been more important”.