Over 12,000 exhibitors, hosted buyers and attendees at this year’s IMEX America. IMEX Group chairman Ray Bloom reflected upon the achievements of the show and a positive, unifying week for the meetings industry.
Over 3,200 hosted buyers and an additional 2,500 plus attendees came to Las Vegas, and Tuesday and Wednesday were the busiest days ever at IMEX America. With more than 3,300 exhibitors representing 150 countries and a major expansion of the Inspiration Hub, the show’s education area, the seventh IMEX America was the largest ever. A significant factor in this growth was that 58 booths – 20% of returning exhibitors – had booked larger spaces and the show welcomed 64 new booths. An RFP gives a strong business focus to appointments at the show. The fact that 72% of appointments were based on RFPs, an increase by 4%, is a powerful measure of how buyers are ready to discuss real business prospects at IMEX America.
As more than 70,000 appointments were made including 60,000 individual appointments and booth presentations, Bloom said, “For exhibitors and buyers this simply means that we’ve created more opportunities than ever to do business.
“We’re really happy with the quality of the IMEX buyers and we’ve gotten very strong prospects for short and long-term business,” said Darren K. Green, senior vice president, sales for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board.”
Bloom also drew attention to an important milestone; the 150th IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum took place at the show. “We’ve always been committed to actively encouraging students from around the world to make careers in the meeting and incentive travel industry. Over the years more than 7,500 young people have taken part in this program and many have since gone on to positions in the industry. It’s very pleasing to see how far they’ve progressed.”
Discussing the show’s extensive education program, Bloom highlighted the new Event Design Certificate course and the Association Leadership Forum, created by ASAE, a new special education program which had brought together 85 association CEOs and executives on Monday. He also said that the Executive Meeting Forum for meetings strategists working in the corporate sector had attracted 30 senior executives from companies including BP, Allianz AG, McDonald’s, PwC and Toyota with an annual buying power in excess of $2.5bn.
The program started with Smart Monday, powered by MPI, which brought over 1,000 event professionals to engage in a wide variety of learning events. At the first MPI keynote Janet Sperstad provided fascinating insights when presenting key findings newly published in a white paper about the IMEX Group’s Talking Point for this year, Purposeful Meetings. This is now available to be downloaded.
During the week, 250 education sessions took place, covering ten education tracks, and attracted several hundred participants. 80% of the sessions were assigned with CEs for CMP certification. Adding to the overall show experience was the new Inspiration Hub which used inflatable domes for the seminars, campfires and white space areas for the first time. The “power of live experience” was a theme that came to life at the Lunchtime Live Zone, interactive live event experiences including instant personalised song writing, the first Virtual Reality Photo Booth and “Sand Selfies”.