Abu Dhabi, Libya set for IMEX debut

In its fourth year, IMEX is bigger than ever, with 3000 exhibitors vying for a piece of the global MICE market
Come together: IMEX is where it’s at

IMEX, the benchmark global meetings, incentive travel and events industry exhibition, will deliver more exhibitors and more buyers when it opens its doors this May in Frankfurt.

3,400 hosted buyers are forecast within an overall visitor number of 7,500; as well as more than 3,000 exhibitors.
For the fourth IMEX, taking place at Messe Frankfurt from May 30 to June 1, around 35 per cent of previous exhibitors have booked larger stands than in 2005. More space has been taken by Dubai, Jordan, Spain, Ireland, Visit London, Malaysia, Namibia, Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, Boston and several eastern European countries including Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Poland. There is notable buoyancy among European destinations with half of them increasing their stand sizes. 40 per cent of hotel exhibitors including Accor Hotels, Boscolo Hotels Spa, Conrad Hotels, Hilton International, Hyatt International, Marriott International, Movenpick Hotels & Resorts, Ritz Carlton and Starwood have also decided to take bigger stands.
Commenting on the decision to book greater space, John Licence, vice-president Global Sales, Europe for Marriott International says, “IMEX continues to be a very successful show for Marriott International producing tangible leads for our wide portfolio of worldwide properties. We have increased our stand space in 2006… to accommodate the increasing demand from our hotel representatives to attend! We consistently see leads of over $10 million taken at each show and expect 2006 to be another successful visit for us.”
With, in addition, a host of new exhibitors right across the market, including Peru, Abu Dhabi, Kenya and Tucson (USA) together with leading brands such as SkyTeam, Rocco Forte, NH-Hotels, BMW Welt, Kuoni and Best Western Deutschland, IMEX 2006 will be larger than in 2005, reflecting substantial growth for the fourth consecutive year.
Four destinations new to the market will be showcased in the Wild Card Pavilion. This year they will be Libya, Ardenne Bleue (Belgium), Asuncion (Paraguay) and Georgia.
In line with the increasing size of the exhibition, the number of hosted buyers and delegates going to Frankfurt with partner associations and clients is also expected to be notably higher this year. 3,400 hosted buyers are forecast including 10 per cent from long haul markets with many of them the key clients of major hotel groups. North American, Canadian, Middle Eastern, Australian, South American, South African, Indian, Thai and Chinese buyers will all be well represented. IMEX works with a network of 400 worldwide intermediaries who carefully qualify and select each buyer.
A new partnership with the VDR (German Business Travel Association), as well as ongoing collaboration with the German Convention Bureau is expected to drive buyers from the German outbound market to IMEX.

Growth in airline support
Lufthansa, IMEX’s official airline, will be bringing in buyers from North America, Russia and the Far East while Swiss will transport key buyers from Thailand and Russia. Emirates will also be bringing a 16-strong group from Australia. Several other leading airlines are now fully incorporated into the IMEX hosted buyer programme. These include SkyTeam, Air Tahiti Nui, United, Gulf Air and British Airways.
The IMEX Association Day and Evening has been one of the big success stories of the exhibition so far. Made possible through continuing partnerships with key industry associations, such as ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association); 250 international association planners are expected to attend the topical seminars, joining a further 500 exhibitors for the networking dinner on the evening before the opening day.
Following a highly successful first visit to IMEX last year, HelmsBriscoe International, the largest site selection and meeting services company in the world, will bring a truly international delegation of more than 40 top executives to Frankfurt. Associates will travel from North America, India, New Zealand, the Middle East and throughout Europe. Managing Director, Pat Durocher, will also address 150 students at the Future Leaders’ Forum. Also returning will be a delegation from the UK’s Hotel Booking Agents Association whose 60 British members combine an annual buying power of £500 million ($892 million).

New Vision supports core activity
Added to the strength and depth of the core exhibition is the ongoing success of IMEX’s New Vision initiatives. Launched in 2001 the New Vision platform allows IMEX and its industry partners to challenge traditional thinking and also to inspire new ideas and focus on the future. The programme has been developed and expanded over the past year. In 2006 when the IMEX and MPI Future Leaders’ Forum (Europe) takes place on June 1, 150 meetings and incentive travel industry students will be hosted for a dedicated day of professional education and careers coaching. Other New Vision initiatives featuring at IMEX 2006 include a focus on cross-cultural skills and the German marketing clinic run by the Travel Marketing Factory. Education seminars, which are certified for CMP points, will be run daily by the leading trade associations and the prestigious IMEX Academy Awards will be presented to up to five leading industry figures at the show’s dazzling Gala Dinner.
The IFWTO (International Federation of Women’s Travel Organisations) will again partner IMEX to deliver an interactive debate about the changing roles of women in the global travel industry. Mary Casey, vice-president, Strategic Account Management, Starwood Hotels and Resorts and Mary Power of the CIC will lead the discussion.
Up to 20 politicians from all over Europe, many of them representing new EU countries and cities with rapidly developing conference markets will be in Frankfurt for the Politician’s Forum. All the JMIC (Joint Meetings Industry Council) members will be represented and the programme will be moderated by Michael Hirst, director of the British Tourism Partnership. For the first time benchmarking case studies and stand visits will be incorporated into the programme, giving politicians the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of their own cities in hosting international meetings.

Carbon offset programme
At the end of 2005 IMEX consolidated its environmental activity by renaming its industry awards ‘The IMEX Green Awards’ and also launching a new ‘Green Exhibitor’ Award. In 2006, IMEX will take its green commitment one step further by using a carbon off-set programme for staffs’ business travel. Furthermore, the Green Meetings Industry Council will be partnering with IMEX again to run the dedicated Corporate Responsibility Centre. The Centre will offer visitors an array of information on how to devise, run and measure corporate responsibility programmes. Experts will be on hand to offer personal advice and a dedicated seminar on the subject will take place on Wednesday May 31.
Summing up, Ray Bloom, IMEX Chairman, says: “For the fourth year IMEX has continued to experience significant growth and demand by both exhibitors and buyers. This reflects both the exhibition’s developing maturity within the industry, as well as an increasingly buoyant industry mood. Through our industry partnerships we have been able to grow IMEX and develop every aspect of our New Vision programme making it a truly global business networking event for our industry.”