IMEX ‘buzz’ will be louder this year

Messe Frankfurt … gearing up

After just two years, IMEX has become the benchmark worldwide exhibition for meetings and incentive travel.

IMEX 2004 united more than 12,000 industry professionals including 2,500 exhibitors from 130 countries representing national and regional tourist offices, major hotel groups, airlines, destination management companies, service providers and trade associations. Targets of hosted buyers were exceeded with over 2,800 attending including 250 from long-haul markets outside Western Europe.
Having exceeded growth expectations, IMEX 2005 is set to be 15 per cent larger against last year when the three-day exhibition opens in its new home, Hall 8, Messe Frankfurt on April 19, 2005. Hosted buyer forecasts are also on target and set to reach 3,000.
Organisers of the worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events say that demand is also strong from both existing and new exhibitors, and this has reinforced their ambition to make IMEX the benchmark exhibition within this global industry. Several key indicators also support this goal. The IMEX hosted buyer programme will deliver carefully qualified decision-makers from over 50 world markets, each flying in and staying as guests of the organisers. Ten per centof these will represent influential long-haul markets including the US, Canada, Brazil, China, Australia, South Africa and the Middle East.
The programme is supported by several major airlines including Lufthansa, Emirates Airlines and Gulf Air, whilst in the UK Air Partner will transport 200 leading buyers on a special London-Frankfurt IMEX charter.
IMEX has also signed up 375 worldwide intermediaries for 2005. They will ensure that only the highest quality industry buyers will attend. More than 50 per cent of these will be key clients of the major hotel groups.
An elite group of senior corporate planners will also attend the exhibition by special invitation of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and IMEX. The Global Corporate Circle of Excellence is a high profile group that convenes annually to guide MPI and the industry on policy development, education, alliance building and communication.
Several contracted exhibitors have voted to expand their stands at the show. This supports growing industry feeling that both positivity and profit are returning.
Portugal, with a 14 per cent increase in stand space, now becomes the second largest exhibitor after Germany whilst Spain, Turkey, the Oman, South Africa, Argentina, Dubai, Panama and Mexico will all be taking larger stands as a result of the confidence they gained from business achieved at last year’s show. Over 35 international hotel groups will be exhibiting with Intercontinental Hotels, Marriott International, Leading Hotels of the World and Dolce International all increasing their presence. Accor Hotels, Mövenpick, Dolce International and Hyatt International will also be inviting new hosted buyer groups.
As IMEX chairman, Ray Bloom, said, “Many industry colleagues have recently commented that their forecasts for 2005 and 2006 are optimistic; with pent-up demand and improved economic signals having a positive impact on the meetings sector. This is reflected in the demand for space at IMEX 2005 which will once again bring together over 6,000 buyers with key exhibitors from around the world.”
This event is now firmly established in the association industry calendar bringing together the largest educational gathering of European association executives in Europe.
Organised by ICCA in conjunction with AIPC, IAPCO, ESAE, ASAE, IAEM and IACVB, the seminars and workshops focus on topics selected by the delegates themselves. Themed sessions this year will concentrate on highly topical subjects such as ‘Negotiating with Hotels and Congress Centres’ and ‘Effective Online Community Building’. A further session on ‘Membership Recruitment and Retention’ will be underpinned during the show by the results of a market research study undertaken by The Association Gateway and sponsored by IMEX. ICCA will also be linking their new association sales course to the show for the first time. The enormously popular evening networking reception gives exhibitors who are members of the participating associations the opportunity to meet these key buyers prior to the opening of the show.
IMEX German partners, TMF (Travel Marketing Factory) and CIM (Conference and Incentive Magazine), will both be undertaking detailed studies on trends in the German outbound market in the new year and reporting their full findings during the show. CIM will concentrate on the increasingly important issue of procurement and the specific buying habits of the German market. TMF will focus on future trends, both corporate and agency-wide.
The GCB will again host the largest stand with 140 individual exhibitors expected, constituting the ‘Meetings Made in Germany’ show within a show that has been the hallmark of IMEX since year one. In a new drive to encourage others in the industry to adopt better technology, IMEX has announced its support for a new initiative, the Meeting Support Institute (MSI). The brainchild of Maarten Vanneste of Abbit Meeting Support in Belgium, the institute aims to promote better use of tools and technology services within the meetings and events industry. The MSI will also coordinate the Technology TAP at IMEX 2005 showcasing the newest technology innovations for the industry.
IMEX continues its New Vision Programme for 2005 with initiatives including Wild Card ‘free’ entries for previously undiscovered destinations; a large Professional Development Pavilion including live psychometric and personality profiling plus a Corporate Responsibility Centre. The Politicians’ Forum will also be repeated with 20 politicians expected to attend the show and forum. Key objectives will be improving their understanding of the value of the meetings industry and education on how to gain maximum benefit from meetings held in their city, region or country.
Two core initiatives, the Future Leaders’ Forum and a Cross-Cultural Skills partnership with Richard Lewis Communications (RLC), have both been enhanced in response to strong demand. In particular RLC will be giving hosted buyers free access to their online cultural profiling tool, which they can use to benefit their IMEX appointments. Additionally, the select IMEX Awards will once again be presented at the show’s gala dinner and seminars will be organised by the leading trade associations and the GCB.
The powerful combination of a truly worldwide hosted buyer programme with unrivalled access to the massive outbound German market plus an in-depth association programme adds up to an IMEX that is sure to fulfill its main promise to the global market – a show that delivers business.