IMEX moves up a gear

The fifth edition of IMEX America returns to Las Vegas 13–15 October, showcasing new exhibitors from across key sectors of the meetings market and, organisers promise, “providing buyers with even more opportunities to do business”. They promise also “inspiring education from world-renowned experts and unrivalled networking opportunities”.

New exhibitors

There will be over 60 new stands including: Cincinnati USA, Cuba Travel Services, Detroit Metro CVB, Dominican Wings, Greater Birmingham CVB, IfOnly, Hungary, Oklahoma City CVB, Omaha CVB, Paraguay CVB, Pishgharavolan Tourism Company in Iran, SMG Convention & Exhibition Centers US, Wisconsin Department of Tourism and Taiwan.
In addition, around 50 returning exhibitors have increased the size of their stands.

New hosted buyer groups

Organisers expect further growth in the show’s hosted buyer programme, with buyers set to attend from across the USA as well as from Asia, China, Germany, Latin America, Mexico and Russia.
Changes to the show’s opening hours and group appointment timings are designed to give hosted buyers more time to explore the show floor, experience the education programme or schedule their own appointments. The show will this year open at 9.45am, with no group appointments scheduled before 11am or after 4pm.

New education features

All the education on the show floor will this year be located at the Inspiration Hub, which will be split into six areas, each with a different learning format.

There are seminar rooms, a Campfire area and a Hot Topic area, all designed to provide the opportunity to debate the latest industry issues with peers.

The Meet the Experts Clinic will offer individual appointments with an industry expert and presentations at the Research Pod area will showcase the latest industry research.
There is also a Creativity Zone to encourage ‘Out of the box thinking’.

More than 180 education sessions will be divided into 10 speciality tracks including: Business Skills, Marketing & Communications, Risk Management & Compliance, Technology & Social Media, Trends & Research, Creative Learning, Health & Wellbeing, Diversity, Sustainability & General Education.

Two new streams have also been added with content specifically tailored towards Young Professionals – for anyone with up to three years’ experience – and Senior Professionals – for those with eight years’ experience or more.

‘Prove it or Lose it: ROI metrics that matter most to the C-Suite’ is a discussion aimed at senior professionals led by Dane Risley, Cvent’s senior VP of enterprise event marketing sales. Young professionals can attend ‘Navigating the corporate meetings and incentive industry as a young professional’ delivered by Melaya Horsten from Site Young Professionals.

Many sessions will examine future trends. David Dubois the president and CEO of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) will explain, ‘The Global Exhibition Industry: Trends Worth Watching’, at the Research Pod, and Yma Sherry, vice-president of American Express Meetings and Events, North America, is set to explore ‘2016 Meetings Trends’.

Planners can keep up with the fast pace of technology at the Inspiration Hub, with sessions including ‘Beyond the #hashtag’ by Josh Murray of Extraordinary Events and ‘Insights from the C-Suite: how to have “the talk” about going digital’, led by Deborah Sexton, PCMA president and CEO and Carolyn Clarke leader of Virtual Edge Institute (VEI.)


Smart Monday

Smart Monday, powered by Meetings Professionals International (MPI), is a free pre-show educational day featuring more than 30 sessions covering key topics such as hotel and incentive travel trends, risk management and contracts, technology, green and socially responsible meetings, meeting design and more. In addition, MPI and event technology experts PSAV will present the results from their research project on the use and management of event technology in planning and executing meetings and events.

Presented as part of Smart Monday, Association Focus is an exclusive ‘conference within a conference’ designed specifically for association executives. Participants can expect dedicated education presented by ASAE and ICCA, with sessions packed with case studies, peer-to-peer learning and networking opportunities.

A new feature of Smart Monday is ‘The Play Room’ – sponsored by Play with a Purpose – which will run throughout the day and offer short and sweet ‘quirkshops’. This fun alternative to classroom learning is designed to provide attendees with hands-on experience using a variety of tools and techniques to create more engaging meetings in the areas of room design, tech, networking, teambuilding, F&B and more. The overall goal of the Play Room is to offer tangible, immediately applicable ideas that planners can build into their upcoming meetings.

Another networking opportunity around the show is the MPI Foundation Rendezvous on 14 October, which is again set to attract hundreds of buyers and suppliers from across the world for a fun evening of networking and relaxing in one of the city’s coolest venues, Drais nightclub at The Cromwell Hotel.

And IMEX chairman Ray Bloom tells CN that the company’s strategic partnership with MPI has been recently extended for a further five years.

Bloom adds that this year’s show is expected to be 60% bigger than the first IMEX America, with the hosted buyer programme involving just under 3,000 buyers for 2015.

“We didn’t expect IMEX America to be as big when we launched and we didn’t expect the scale it is now,” says Bloom, who notes the show now has the involvement of virtually all the industry’s associations.
Asked what makes the show work, Bloom says: “The reason it has expanded in the way it has is the industry support and the hosted buyer programmes.”

The Vegas show, Bloom notes, is now 95% the size of IMEX Frankfurt and the halls will be full at Sands Expo this month.

There is no room for expansion in 2016/17, but by 2018 the show will expand into additional space, says Bloom.

With two giant industry shows, was another launch likely?

“We have no plans to launch any other shows and want to put all efforts into maintaining the quality in Frankfurt and the USA,” Bloom says.

And the IMEX Politicians Forum has come to the fore, with SAP’s global CEO Bill McDermott making a big impact at IMEX Frankfurt this year that undoubtedly helped the Forum relay the importance of the meetings industry to the political and corporate class.

Those interested in the industry’s ability to flex its political muscle should also check out the Meetings Means Business initiative while Stateside at IMEX America.

IMEX America takes place 13-15 October, at Sands Expo, Las Vegas.

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Conference News resides at the heart of the conference industry examining the issues affecting organisers, venues, destinations and suppliers. Published monthly, Conference News features the latest news, interviews and industry analysis from market influencers.

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