IMEX America Shows Strong Growth, Innovative Ideas

October 17, 2013

The third edition of IMEX America, a trade show and conference for incentive travel, meetings and events, brought a taste of global destinations Oct. 15-17 to the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas.

Modeled after IMEX Frankfurt, IMEX America brought about 2,700 mostly U.S.-based hosted buyers (up from 2,400 last year) and 1,700 attendees, who got a chance to connect with about 2,700 exhibitors representing 200 countries. The size of the showfloor was up 17 percent at 140,000 square feet.

“This has clearly been another year of significant growth,” said Ray Bloom, IMEX Group chairman. “The new facilities and the new halls we now occupy here at the Sands Expo have proved a huge asset in supporting the show’s expansion, and allowing us to deliver strong business, networking and educational events here this week.”

Inspiring planners to create inspire events, IMEX featured several innovate ideas that can be adapted to a variety of trade shows and conventions. Here’s a sampling:


Dubbed “your online window into IMEX,” this page welcomed visitors to the show’s Web site and offered a glimpse into what was happening at any given moment. It featured a live webcam, the number of appointments in session, video highlights, search for exhibitors and educational sessions and also a live feed pulled from Twitter and Facebook postings with #imex13 hashtag.

The page got 9,000 views, each lasting six minutes on average. It’s expected to stay up into November.

“The idea was to let people who were at the show to see what was happening and also let those who couldn’t make get a flavor,” said Kit Watts with IMEX PR team. “It’s an extra level of experience, and it was a success for us.”

Appointments that Work

The hosted buyer format relies on the buyers making appointments with exhibitors. In theory, this format can successfully drive business at any trade show. This year, the number of appointments at IMEX jumped from 37,000 to 50,000, a function of a larger number of buyers, an improved online system and overall growing familiarity with the format.

“U.S. market appreciates efficiency,” Watts said, noting that the show expects a buyer to have about eight appointments a day.

The show strives to help both parties find relevant matches based on the targeted demographics. It also focuses on “getting the communication level right so that the buyers don’t feel overwhelmed.” Exhibitors are allowed to e-mail a selection of buyers starting five weeks prior to the show.  

Layers of Education

Unlike a traditional conference, IMEX offered various educational formats, ranging from 30-minute sessions to full seminar tracks.

The show kicked off with MPI’s Smart Monday, with a deep dive into industry issues at expert-led sessions, keynotes and networking events. During the four days, attendees could also participate in the several forums focusing on the success of future leaders, faculty engagement and policymaking.

On the showfloor, education was delivered in 30-minute sessions at several pods: The Innovation Center, Sustainability Hub, Tech Hub, Research Pod and App Bar. Some could accommodate several dozen attendees and some were divided into smaller “campfire” spaces, where attendees gathered around a speaker on colorful cubes and stools.

At the App Bar, the sessions were held around a large oblong table and participants could follow alongside the presenter on the provided iPads.

Attendee Daniel Stother with Agilysys said he liked the bite-size format and easy engagement with the speakers, but wished there were separator walls between the campfires for better sound. “The conference as a whole is very effective,” he added. “I’ve been at the Inspiration Center four times over the past two days and did three campfires today. Group discussions have been great.”

Check out IMEX America-TV here:

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