IMEX Frankfurt 2023 Creates a ‘New Benchmark for Success,’ With Positivity and Purpose Prevailing

June 23, 2023

With a strong turnout, robust business activity, renewed faith in the industry’s future and innovative event design, IMEX Frankfurt, which took place May 23-25 at Messe Frankfurt, was one of the show’s most impressive to date and a testament to an industry focused on new business horizons.

“The 2023 edition clearly reflected an industry pride and renewed confidence among exhibitors and, of course, a strong desire to do business with thousands of buyers,” said Ray Bloom, chairman of IMEX Group.

Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group, added that this year’s IMEX Frankfurt gave the industry a more accurate feel for the post-pandemic market.

“Clearly there are some big factors still at play — the war in Ukraine, supply chain disruption and rising prices,” Bauer said. “However, the upside, and it’s a strong one, is that pent-up demand is still playing out, and there’s a renewed commitment to — and need for — face to face events.

IMEX Frankfurt drew 11,764 delegates, of which 3,883 were buyers (including hosted buyers and attendee buyers) from 94 countries. The total number of exhibiting companies reached 2,900.

Buyers made 57,700 pre-arranged appointments, and 47,700 were booked and confirmed before the show opened as one-on-one meetings. In recent years IMEX has focused on ensuring that hosted buyers fully understand the scheduling flexibility and freedom offered by the show, alongside their hosted buyer commitment. The approach means most appointments are self-selected and therefore higher quality and more targeted. 

The full picture reveals the buying power of each buyer category (hosted or attendee) plus their country and nature of business, according to IMEX. For example, the majority of IMEX hosted buyers command buying power in excess of $1 million annually, with 31 percent holding budgets between $1 million and $5 million, and 28 percent representing a potential meetings, events or incentive travel spend of more than $5 million. Exhibitors also attested to the seniority of IMEX buyers, 45 percent of whom are C-level and 38 percent management level.

New Benchmark

“2023 is the new benchmark for success for IMEX,” said James Rees, executive director of ExCeL London and president of the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC), at the close of the event. “Last year was a great show, but it doesn’t compare to this year — there are more people, more quality buyers, more business being done, and more drop-ins.”

He added that the aisles were constantly flowing every day.

“One large corporate in the FinTech industry wants to bring 4,000 delegates to ExCeL to use the convention center’s new extension in 2024,” he said.

Feedback from other exhibitors also reflected business confidence on the show floor.

“So far, we’ve had 15 events finalized at the show, worth more than $10 million, and this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Pablo Sismanian, director of product at Argentina National Institute of Tourism Promotion, during the show. “We’ve received many enquiries for incentives and some congresses.”

Claire Smith, VP of sales and marketing at the Vancouver Convention Centre, was also pleased with the buyer turnout.

“The meetings we’ve had have really moved discussions along, including conversations about bringing medical and scientific associations in with between 1,200 and 4,000 attendees,” Smith said. “We involve our event partners, so buyers can meet the wider team — this helps build trust, which is crucial.”

Meanwhile, IMEX’s new app also gave both exhibitors and buyers access to free lead scanning for the first time, instantly improving business connection opportunities at the show. The new feature was heavily used by participants, collecting 74,000 scans throughout the week.

Intentional Design, Brand Refresh

As demand for face-to-face events continues to surge, it is being driven by a new reality, according to Bauer.

“It is now based on engaging dispersed company workforces, building or enriching community and creating memory- and learning-rich events that power-up brands and revenue streams,” Bauer said. “Although the global events industry has been through a tough period, wherever you look the value proposition for well-designed, inclusive live events has never been stronger.”

Noting the importance of intentional design at IMEX Frankfurt in both Hall 8 by the exhibitors and Hall 9 by the IMEX team and its industry partners, said the show’s visual impact and memorability factor were stronger than ever.

“This year’s show demonstrated how much more we all know about designing experiences with sustainability and purpose in mind, ensuring accessibility, inclusivity, and higher standards of psychological safety and well-being — in fact all our human needs,” Bauer said.

Although IMEX pioneered elements such as the Be Well Lounge many years ago, Bauer noted that this year many more people used it and appreciated its calming atmosphere.  Meanwhile, a choice of high-quality, locally sourced, low-carbon food and plenty of comfortable and innovative places to rest and work together with low-level lighting in Hall 9 was designed to make the whole event experience more enjoyable and ultimately extend its value as a business and learning platform for everyone attending.

Also adding to engagement and positivity at the show was the IMEX brand refresh. Giant letters in the Galleria became the Instagram hit of the week, while attendees responded positively to the IMEX logo’s “handshake” motif and contemporary color palette, according to Bauer.

The successful 2023 edition of IMEX Frankfurt exemplified positive change overall, according to Bauer.

“We’ve always known that strong personal relationships and connections are the bedrock of business, especially in a global market based on hospitality and freedom to travel,” Bauer said. “Since the pandemic, we appreciate other aspects of our humanity too — shared values, a shared purpose and the power of collective action.”

She added, “This is why the IMEX mission is to bring the global events community together to do business, learn and drive positive change.”

The next edition of IMEX Frankfurt will take place May 13-16, 2024 at Messe Frankfurt. IMEX America 2023 is set for Oct. 17-19 at Mandalay Bay Convention CenterAttendance is free for event professionals. To register, click here.

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