Imex sets new records as business booms

Visitors at this year’s show

IMEX 2010 came to a close at Messe Frankfurt, Germany, with the exhibition’s group chairman, Ray Bloom, announcing new records for hosted buyer numbers and countries represented.

“The past couple of years have challenged our industry on many fronts, not least economically, but I am delighted that both buyers and exhibitors have voted with their feet and turned up in greater numbers than ever to do business at Imex this year,” said Bloom.

A record number of more than 3,800 hosted buyers from 60-plus markets attended this year’s show, among a visitor total of nearly 9,000. The mood amongst buyers and exhibitors was also positive and optimistic, with many reporting increases in levels of business and appointment numbers. A typical example was Nik Racic, director of the Croatian Convention and Incentive Bureau who said on day two of IMEX: “We have 25 exhibitors on the Croatian stand and they are so far reporting 10 to 12 per cent more business than last year”.

Buyers from emerging markets were particularly evident, demonstrating a new wave of buying power and interest. Buyers from Brazil, Russia, India and China attended in larger numbers, with groups from Asia and the US also noticeably bigger than last year. Changes to hosted buyer itineraries for 2010 ensured that more of them stayed at the show for three full days and spent longer periods on the show floor with exhibitors. However, Bloom explained that Imex will still continue to focus on developing European markets to maximise reach to buyers in the UK and on the continent in addition to the long-haul markets.

“We can see the results of these increases in our online appointment numbers. Individual and group appointments rose by 14 per cent this year, which represents a total of 57,000 business appointments made between buyers and exhibitors before and during the show. The number of diary messages exchanged before and during Imex increased by nine per cent to more than 12,000,” said Bloom.

“It is also an excellent sign for the whole industry that many more hotel groups and cruise companies exhibited here this year. It is encouraging that many have come through the downturn and that they are feeling more optimistic about business in the year ahead.”

The Imex Politicians Forum saw 28 politicians from Sweden, Greece, Austria, Canada, Croatia, Panama, Poland, Denmark, Scotland and Australia, amongst others, spend a day debating how the industry can work better with its political representatives for each group’s mutual benefit.

“The meetings industry must continue to present itself consistently and communicate with one voice – and that voice must powerfully articulate its economic strengths and the long-term benefits the sector provides at both regional and national levels,” said Bloom.

He also talked about the launch of the first ever Imex Challenge set to take place in Poland this September.
“Come September, 24 people from across the industry will be toiling hard over several days to transform the garden and grounds of a foster home near Warsaw. We plan to run an Imex Challenge every two years with the express intention of leaving behind a lasting legacy such as an educational or maintenance endowment, in addition to the work the group will carry out on the spot,” explained Bloom.

The Imex education programme also proved extremely successful this year. It was the biggest programme delivered to date, with 82 separate sessions, most of which were packed out. The majority take place outside of show hours so as not to cut across core business.

Bloom also described excellent levels of interest and support for the launch of Imex America and explained how the Imex model will be developed in Las Vegas and be unique in the US market.

He concluded by announcing that over the next two years Imex will be embarking on a comprehensive website development plan making it the ‘living heartbeat’ of the show with a series of features designed to make it an even more powerful and user-friendly tool for year-round business as well as stepped-up and enriched social media content.