IMEX America 2022 Day 1: Breaking Free

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IMEX America 2022 Day 1: Breaking Free

By Blair Potter | Oct 11, 2022

Day 1 of IMEX America seemed like old times. Business on the show floor was bustling, and everyone was excited to be back together in Las Vegas.

I took the opportunity to chat with a few exhibitors to find out why IMEX America is important for their companies and what’s different for 2022.


Encore introduced “Break Free,” a journey of transformation (pictured above and below), on the trade show floor at IMEX America.

“IMEX is the largest trade show in the U.S. for the global event and incentive travel industry. It was important for us to partner with them because we want to be an agent of change,” says Amanda Armstrong, CMP, CED, senior vice president of brand and community engagement for Encore. “And what do we want to change? We want to take a look at events to have a social and organizational impact, whether it’s DE&I, sustainability, environmental issues or attendee engagement.”

With Break Free, Encore created an immersive interactive experience in partnership with IMEX to encourage the industry to challenge the status quo and inspire change.

“I hope when people go through it they realize they’re in the driver’s seat and they can actually impact change wherever they are,” Armstrong says.


They can break free of whatever conventional thinking has been holding them back, she says.

“That could be personal, it could be at work, it could be having a seat at the table or it could be how you want to introduce sustainability to your events, or diversity and inclusion,” Armstrong says. “Or it could be you dust off that agenda from 2019 and you try to lay it on top of your future events and it doesn’t fit because the world has changed. We need more hybrid, we need digital. People are craving for in-person connection, but it looks different now. They want more networking; they want less sitting in a seat and they’re talking at you. So the whole attendee mentality around expectation has completely changed.”

Break Free participants pass through three rooms focused on connection, inspiration and collaboration. They have the opportunity to interact with fellow participants and the Encore team.

“The first room is about connection; we’re using technology to encourage conversations, not to replace them,” Armstrong says. “The second one is about inspiration; we want to show you a world that you could be a part of and empower you. The third one is about collaboration, what you need—partners, resources or just a community—to help get you where you want to go when you break free.”


Amber Voelker, regional vice president, West region for Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI), says it’s important for the company to have a presence at IMEX America because there’s a responsibility to ensure that ALHI member hotels get the most exposure possible to all customer opportunities.

“This year, we wanted to be more strategic in how our customers were able to engage with our member hotels and be able to have really quality appointments and be able to hear each other,” she says. “We wanted to have the right setup where they can stay focused on the content of the appointment and the meetings at hand, so we did change our structure a bit to accommodate that, and it seems to be working really well this year. In the past we had highboys throughout with our members’ signs and we had tables that were kind of cubicles. Now they have their own one-on-one tables throughout the perimeter of our booth.”


Voelker says ALHI’s strength is its knowledge about the hotels in its portfolio.

“We are maintaining a very respectable size in terms of our organization,” she says. “We don’t want to grow too big because we want to make sure that our team understands every hotel within our portfolio and can really give our clients firsthand knowledge of what they can experience at any of our member hotels. ALHI has been in business for over 35 years, and we have a very seasoned team of professionals, and people can rely on responsiveness, knowledge, integrity and really knowing our customers well and what their needs are.”


Amy Pfeiffer, director of meetings and conventions for Disney Destinations, says it’s important to have a presence at IMEX America because it’s the premier industry show for making contacts and doing business.

“We’re here not just to network, but we come away with solid leads and solid opportunities—and in today’s world that’s what it’s about when you decide where you’re going to spend your time and your money and your presence,” she says. “This show has consistently done that for us, and it’s continued to do so post-pandemic. So, we will always be here with a major presence. It’s been really good to us.”

This year, Disney broadened the partner base and product lines that it brought to the show.


“I think we’re bigger; I think we came back and said, 'You know what? We know this is such an important show that we brought even more people, more partners,'” Pfeiffer says. “NatGeo is here. Disney Cruise Line is back in the group and convention business. We always come big to IMEX.”

She says Disney is resonating strongly after the pandemic because people want connections.

“And there’s no better place to create experiences and connections than in one of our Disney theme parks. We’re still celebrating the 50th at Walt Disney World and we’re heading into the 100th for Disney,” she says. “And I think the content and experience is something we have that our competitors can’t offer under one world, so to speak: Disney Institute, NatGeo. Different ways to inspire people and bring them together to network. Post-pandemic, it feels like people value their time even more than ever. Business travel and leisure travel have blended into ‘bleisure,’ and there’s no better place to do that than Disney. So when you’re there you’ll get your meeting content done but you’ll also spend time with the people that you most cherish.”



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Blair Potter

Blair Potter is director of media operations for MPI. He likes toys and collects cats (or is it the other way around?).