The organiser of IMEX meetings trade show in Frankfurt is claiming a rise in new exhibitor numbers and “a marked upswing in the number of pre-show appointments made between exhibitors and buyers”.
Over 30 new and returning stands are taking part in IMEX this year. New airline exhibitors for 2013 include Avianca Airlines, Oneworld Airline Alliance and Omni Air International. While DoubleDutch, Visimmo 3D, GenieMobile and Zenvoy all feature among the largest number yet of technology exhibitors.
Fifteen per cent of existing IMEX exhibitors opted to increase the size of their stands with over a third increasing space by 30 per cent or more, the organiser claims. Some of the larger increases have come from Bahrain, the Estonian Convention Bureau, Germany, Morocco, Poland, Puerto Rico, Panama, Qatar and New Zealand. US exhibitors have also demonstrated an appetite for more space with San Francisco, Texas, Visit Florida and Washington all increasing their share. Many exhibitors, however, were experiencing difficulties with Wi-Fi services on stand, with the system functioning patchily on Day One.
Among the new groups taking part in the anticipated 4,000-strong IMEX Hosted Buyer Programme for 2013 are: Accor USA and Canada; Body & Soul South Africa; Carlson Rezidor Asia; IHG India; Moevenpick Korea and UAE and Kerzner International. Marriott Hotels are bringing three new groups of buyers: from St Petersburg, Japan and a first-time group from Kazakhstan.
At the IMEX Opening Ceremony, the continued importance of informed political advocacy was emphasised by IMEX Group Chairman, Ray Bloom; a theme that was picked up in remarks by Philippe Fournier, President of the Joint Meetings Industry Council. Speaking to an audience including government ministers, Fournier said: “It has always been clear that ours is an industry that strongly and quickly reflects the economic conditions around us. But over the past few years we have come to realise we need to spend more time and attention looking at the other side of this relationship, which is the fact that the strength and effectiveness of the meetings industry actually shapes the state of the economy over the long term.”
The general session was also webcast live, another first for IMEX, which was enabled by sponsorship from London & Partners.
Elsewhere in Frankfurt on 21 May, IMEX showed its commitment to CSR in the local community by organising for a group of IMEX delegates to help prepare and cook lunch for the homeless people living under the care of Sister Sigrid’s Lichtblick hostel. The lunch was sponsored by the Sheraton Frankfurt Congress Hotel, who provided all of the ingredients as well as one of their leading chefs to guide the team’s preparations and final results. IMEX intends to extend its CSR programme further next year with other opportunities for hands-on involvement in local community projects.
The scale of the IMEX education programme has been increased for 2013. Over 150 seminars, workshops, learning labs (specifically for exhibitors) and informal, small-group ‘campfires’ will be taking place at various locations including the IMEX-CIC Inspiration Centre (sponsored by Poland), the App Bar, the Sustainability Hub and the Tech Tap.
A German language Clinic will offer advice on compliance issues, best practice and likely future developments. The Video Corner delivered by Abbit and IMR, and sponsored by London & Partners, has also been extended to allow the filmed interviews with industry experts to be staged and enjoyed by a live audience.
In response to visitor feedback, the 2013 show also sees the launch of a new Networking Hub on the show floor. This allows for both scheduled and unscheduled networking activities, some with a formal educational tone and others focussed on fun ice-breaker sessions. The hub will also be home to a variety of guided wellbeing sessions.
Other innovations for 2013 include a free solar energy mobile phone charging station, sponsored by Serbia; a new Research Pod to provide a single location for all the latest industry research and trends reports, and the introduction of ‘playtime’ on the App Bar where visitors will be able to trial a range of industry apps with hands-on guidance from experts.
For those industry professionals not able to attend the show in person, IMEX has devised IMEXLive. The new online platform (located on the IMEX in Frankfurt home page) provides remote access to a number of show activities, including video interviews and a webcam. It will also serve as the central hub for all the show’s Twitter feeds and online photo galleries.
Bloom added: “I am pleased that so many of the changes we have implemented over the past 12 months, and especially the introduction of the single IMEX inbox for Hosted Buyers, have paid dividends. There is no point in innovation for its own sake, so we always consult closely with the marketplace to ensure we’re adding extra value. Because we live in a fast-evolving world, that rate of change only ever seems to get quicker. However, one aspect that remains timeless is the desire for exhibitors and buyers to do more business together and that is why IMEX continues to invest, to innovate and to expand – as evidenced here in Frankfurt.”
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