Plenty to celebrate as imex marks decade of growth

Bloom... new initiatives on the floor at Imex 2012

The tenth edition of Imex, which runs from May 22 to 24 at Messe Frankfurt, is the strongest edition yet, with 3,500 exhibitors and nearly 4,000 buyers expected

WITH the 10th anniversary edition of Imex set to open its doors in Frankfurt organiser Ray Bloom and his team have announced further growth in the hosted buyer programme, a strong and diverse exhibitor line-up plus new features for the Imex Vision programme. The show’s extensive education programme also breaks through the 100 mark for the first time, with almost 120 workshops, seminars and other learning opportunities on offer for both visitors and exhibitors.  A number of changes to the Imex website and diary functions plus improvements to hosted buyer refund processes have also been introduced. In addition, the tenth Imex in Frankfurt will see free wi-fi available throughout the show for the first time.

Around 3,500 exhibitors from more than over 150 countries are set to exhibit at the award-winning trade show.  The US section will be 15 per cent larger and will include Detroit for the first time, with San Francisco also returning to the show. Cruise line, Buy the Sea, exhibits for the first time, as does ATA Hotels, DMC Connection, Eventschmiede, JTB Europe and Pacific World, who will also be bringing a hosted buyer group. Other new exhibitors include: Best Western, Escuela y Centro de Conferencias de Monte Leon, Incentive Destinations Myanmar, Qatar Airways, Mintcentive India, Relais & Chateaux, Tumlare, Vantage and the Venetian Macau.  Mice Mallorca make a welcome return and Promo Tours becomes the first independent company operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina to exhibit at Imex.

The technology area of the show will be 10 per cent larger than in previous years with a sold-out Tech Tap, plus the Imex technology pavilion showcasing products and services from Amiando, ATIV Software, EventMobi, Evenium, Konnect and Video Tattoo amongst others. A new iPad Bar, sponsored by QuickMobile together with PSAV, will provide hands-on education on Apps for events. In addition, the Imex App will be available for iPads for the first time.

Among the larger destination stands are: Boston, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Las Vegas, Mauritius, Moscow, Paris, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Texas, Turkey, Visit England and Visit Scotland, will all be seen with a bigger presence this year.  And so will hotel groups Fairmont, Jumeirah, Kempinski and Starwood.

Looking ahead to what promises to be a busy and highly enjoyable 10th Imex in Frankfurt, chairman Ray Bloom says:  “We’re very excited about our 10th anniversary show and we’re hoping to surpass last year’s record hosted buyer attendance. There’s also excellent development on the exhibitor side. Everything is set for us to deliver our usual combination of excellent business opportunities, networking and thought-provoking professional development and education too.”

Hosted buyer growth

The show’s hallmark hosted buyer programme is set to bring almost 4,000 hosted buyers to the show this year.  20 new hosted buyer groups are set to attend – half of them represent the European market, with the others focussing on long-haul buyers. Around 15 per cent of the total hosted buyers at the show are expected from the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries. The number of buyers from Latin America and Mexico will also be higher this year and, as a direct result of success at Imex America last October, more US groups will be present.

Over 120 education choices plus new tracks

This year’s Imex Education programme will be the largest and most diverse in the trade show’s history, with over 120 different learning opportunities on offer. The Imex App will also allow visitors to save education sessions into their personal schedules for the first time. Seminar attendees will also be able to use the App to download education collateral, make notes they can then email back to themselves, and complete seminar surveys.

A number of the education stands have also been rebranded to reflect subtle shifts taking place in the global industry.

Planning which sessions to attend throughout the show has also been enhanced by the introduction of eight ‘tracks’: marketing and communication; personal development; HR and professional development; social media; sustainability; technology and general education. A ‘Visionary Events Series’  on the Inspiration Centre will also give visitors the chance to understand the dynamics behind individual meetings and events which have either pushed back boundaries or set new standards in innovation, design or impact. 

New Sustainability Hub

In addition, the corporate responsibility centre now becomes the Sustainability Hub – powered by GMIC (Green Meeting Industry Council).  The Hub will act as a focus for environmental and community project information and will host a series of drop-in workshops as well as offering live case studies from previous Imex Green Award winners.  ‘How to go green’ power-sessions with advice about where and how to start, as well as information on more advanced green policies and current practices will also be back by popular demand.

Badgeback programme to benefit two charities

For the first time, two local Frankfurt charities will benefit from the Imex Badgeback programme: Lichtblick aktiv Schwester Sigrid, a homeless shelter run by the Franciscan nun Sr Sigrid Ehrlich, Ehrlich, and Maisha’s Sewing Project, an employment programme for African women now living in Frankfurt. All visitors leaving the show will be offered the chance to deposit their recyclable and reusable badges into one of two collection bins, each representing one of the charities. Each badge will represent a donation of one Euro.

Reworked Association Day programme

Other highlights in what promises to be a memorable 10th Imex  include a redesigned programme for Association Day.  Having been running – and consistently expanding - for 10 years, the Imex Group, together with its association partners, took the decision to rework the day’s education content and formats to align more closely to the evolving roles and responsibilities of association executives.  As a result, all of the day’s seminars and workshops now fit into one of three new tracks: operations, executive and meetings.

Sessions will vary from three-hour ‘Deep Dives’, to case studies, panel discussions, workshops and a new 30 minute ‘Ask the Expert’ clinic. Speakers include board directors from leading associations such as PCMA, ICCA, the European Cancer Organisation (ECCO) and the Optical Society, ensuring that the day provides exceptional learning value for all 300 participants.  Association Day takes place on May 21, at the Messe Frankfurt Congress Center, with the popular evening networking reception, which is open to exhibitors, suppliers and partner association members, taking place at The Westin Hotel.

Another strong element in this year’s IMEX will be the 10th Politicians Forum. This year up to 30 politicians and 70 industry leaders will meet at the prestigious Villa Kennedy (a Rocco Forte Hotel). Sir Rocco Forte will be the day’s keynote speaker. Chair of the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Events, Nick de Bois, MP, will also take part, as well as being special guest speaker at the Imex Opening Ceremony.  Participants will also see a first screening of a short promotional film, produced by International Meetings: Review, which features an interview with Mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders. Sanders is widely credited with turning the city’s fortunes around by promoting it as the “biotech city of the world” and creating 40,000 new jobs in the process.  

10th anniversary highlights

Chief among the changes designed into this year’s show to commemorate its 10th anniversary will be a special ‘Celebration Hour’ from 1700 hours on May 23. The atmosphere is expected to spill over into the Imex Gala Dinner, later the same night at Frankfurt’s Alte Oper. The dinner will feature several ‘birthday surprises’ plus entertainment from Björn Again, who have been Imex’s single, most-requested repeat performers over the last decade.

Results of the Power of 10 research study, which was commissioned by Imex to mark its 10th anniversary, will also be presented at the show.  Conducted by Fast Future Research, who ran the highly acclaimed Convention 2020 study, the research will divulge interviews from 10 senior industry professionals in each of 10 meetings and events sectors to give an extensive picture of the state of the industry. The study also looks back to some of the most memorable and defining moments of the past 10 years, as well as looking ahead to the next 10.  A student essay competition and a comprehensive email survey (with a $1 donation being made to Save The Children for every complete survey submitted) will add further valuable perspectives to its findings.