IMEX Does Its Part to Support a More Sustainable Trade Show Industry

June 6, 2017

The IMEX Group has been ramping up its efforts to create a greener, cleaner and less wasteful trade show industry.

As evidenced by the results of the IMEX America 2016 Sustainability Survey, conducted by the IMEX Group and Meeting Professionals International (MPI) prior to last year’s IMEX America, many event organizers are also doing their part to lessen the environmental impact of their meetings and events.

According to the survey, released June 2 to tie-in with World Environment Day on June 5, 72 percent of event planners have increased their environmental efforts within the last five years, including 21 percent who claim to have made significant changes.

Designed to provide insights into the event industry’s attitudes and actions about sustainability, the survey also asked planners which environmental measures they believe make the largest impact when planning and running events.

The results were decisive, with 48 and 33 percent selecting “reducing waste” and “recycling or donating unwanted or waste materials,” respectively, as their top actions.

Meanwhile, the IMEX team has been busy implementing more and more sustainable initiatives at its annual hosted-buyer events, IMEX in Frankfurt and IMEX America.

New to IMEX in Frankfurt is Waste Watcher, a waste re-distribution program that provides opportunities for event participants – primarily exhibitors – to re-use and recycle leftover food, furniture, stand graphics, flowers and stationary that would otherwise end up in landfill.

IMEX America already has a waste re-distribution program in place through a joint initiative with Sands Expo and MeetGreen.

Run in partnership with local community group ShoutOutLoud, Waste Watcher made its debut at last month’s IMEX in Frankfurt, held May 16-18 at Messe Frankfurt in Frankfurt, Germany.

“It’s taken us many years and a lot of effort to find a local organization with the same values and mindset as IMEX, as well as the network and willingness to work with us,” explained Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group.

She continued, “It’s also been important to understand changing legislation, especially around food-handling, for instance. So, it was just great that so many visitors and especially our exhibitors were interested in and supportive of our new Waste Watcher program. We learned – and they helped – a lot this year. It was a great start but we already have bigger ambitions for 2018.”

By organizing onsite programs that make sustainable behavior more visible and accessible on the show floor, IMEX aims to make the greening of big meetings and events more acceptable, Bauer added.

Other environmental steps in Frankfurt included swapping out printed show catalogs for digital, which helped save 2.7 tons of paper; printing show badges on paper rather than card stock, and using hydroelectricity across the whole show.

Sustainability education was also a hot topic at the event, with sessions led by green experts including Guy Bigwood, group sustainability director of MCI Group, who shared findings from the first ever Global Destination Sustainability Index Whitepaper, “Sustainable Destination Management Trends and Insights: A Path to a Brighter Future,” which was launched at the show.

Also introduced at IMEX in Frankfurt was the IMEX-GMIC Green Award – the Innovation in Sustainability Award – that recognizes individual event professionals and businesses working to drive sustainability momentum and change behavior across the meetings and events supply chain.

The inaugural winner was the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, which was presented with a trophy at the event’s Gala Dinner in recognition of its Blu Planet water conservation project.

In an effort to take its events in an increasingly greener direction, IMEX Group works closely with sustainability partners including GMIC, Messe Frankfurt, MeetGreen, The Venetian | The Palazzo and the Sands Expo in Las Vegas, and produces a comprehensive Sustainable Exhibiting Guide tailored to each show that encourages IMEX exhibitors to make small, earth-friendly changes.

“If every exhibitor and attendee at both IMEX in Frankfurt and IMEX America took just one more practical step to help reduce waste or operate more sustainably at our shows, then the entire industry’s contribution to greater sustainability, its legacy, would increase immensely,” Bauer said.

She added, “If they don’t know how, they can just ask. We’re here to help and cheer them on.”

Helping to promote sustainability across the events industry is another important initiative for the IMEX Group, as evidenced by its sponsorship of the Positive Impact campaign, a non-profit working in support of the United Nations International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

Through telling the story of the power of events, the campaign is a call to action aimed at bringing the world’s event professionals together to ensure a more sustainable future for the global events industry.

Adopted Dec. 4, 2016, the UN resolution recognizes the important role international sustainable tourism can play in fighting global poverty and increasing economic prosperity; promoting social inclusion, peace and understanding, and fostering cultural and environmental preservation. 

Add new comment

Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.