Record-Setting IMEX America Highlighted by Innovative Research, Education, & Partnerships

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Record-Setting IMEX America Highlighted by Innovative Research, Education, & Partnerships

By Rich Luna | Oct 19, 2018

Another record-setting IMEX America is in the books, and yet that was not the biggest news to come out of the largest exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events in the United States.

IMEX America concluded its eighth show in Las Vegas on Thursday (Oct. 18) with new records set for attendance, registered hosted buyers, number of appointments and the overall size of the show, which expanded to an additional hall in 2018 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center.

The biggest news, though, came when the Global Economic Significance of Business Events report was released, showing the worldwide direct spend of the meeting and event industry and the power of face-to-face meetings, which surpassed more than $1.03 trillion in 2017.

The report, conducted by Oxford Economics, was the result of an industry collaboration with the Events Industry Council (EIC) in partnership with IMEX, Hilton, the PCMA Education Foundation and the MPI Foundation, which was the leading sponsor of the study. It was the first-ever comprehensive study on the impact of business events.

“This has also been a landmark week for our industry,” said Ray Bloom, IMEX Group chairman. “The announcement at IMEX America that, globally, business events generate over $1 trillion in direct spending, matching the consumer electronics sector in size, puts its economic contribution into clear perspective and places it among the world’s leading business markets.

“The EIC report showed the value of our sector globally. We know it’s more than that. Now how do we use this information? This information can be developed and taken around world.”

The full EIC research report will be released Nov. 9, and will include the total economic impact of business events, including jobs and GDP, as well as rankings of the top 50 countries.  

The results released this week showed that in 2017, more than 1.4 billion participants from more than 180 countries attended meetings and events, generating more than $1.03 trillion in direct spending. The average amount spent per business event participant was $711, according to the report.

The scope and record numbers at IMEX seemed to reinforce the strength of the industry and a strong economy worldwide. Interest in the show resulted in expanded space to accommodate more than 3,500 exhibitors representing 150 countries. Included were more than 60 new booths, while 81 booths expanded to larger space.

Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group, said the additional hall “allowed the investment made by exhibitors in colorful, creative booths to shine through. Many have chosen to immerse IMEX America attendees in their culture, legacy and values.”

The added space also allowed for the show’s returning and new features--including the Inspiration Hub, Live Zone, Zen Space and the new C2 International Cloud Lab--to be positioned on the main floor versus being split onto two floors like in previous years.

The result was a record of more than 13,000 participants including more than 6,000 attendees and more than 3,300 hosted buyers. More than 70,000 appointments were made, including 64,000 individual appointments and booth presentations, an increase of 7 percent. Bloom said 70 percent of appointments had RFPs attached.

“Once again, it was a record-breaking show, and the largest one we have ever had,” Bloom said. “But nothing was lost in atmosphere. The quality [of hosted buyers] was fantastic. It’s been a tremendous week for business, for the industry and the future of meetings and events.”

Cathy Tull, chief marketing officer for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, reiterated that IMEX, which is committed to the Las Vegas show through 2025, has seen “incredible growth over the past eight years.”

“It’s a winning combination with Las Vegas,” she said. “The No. 1 trade show in the No. 1 trade show destination.”

The show provided a $19 million economic impact in Las Vegas this week, Tull said. IMEX returns to Las Vegas at an earlier date in 2019, moving to mid-September.

The week also was deemed a success for Meeting Professionals International, the biggest strategic partner with IMEX, said Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of MPI. Not only did MPI have strong attendance at education sessions and it’s MPI Foundation event, Rendezvous, but the world’s largest association for meeting and event professionals also made several major announcements.

The Global MICE Collaborative between the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), MPI and the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) was announced. The collaborative will provide professional resources on exhibitions, meeting and event planning and incentive travel to foster the development of the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions, or MICE, profession and MICE professionals in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The collaborative will initially be marketed to destination marketing organizations and individuals outside the U.S. and Canada as a “go-to” resource for MICE. It is designed to accelerate MICE workforce development and destination awareness through competency-building, live events, research, consulting and access to a vibrant community of experienced professionals.

MPI also announced that Kevin Kirby will be the new executive director of the MPI Foundation. Kirby, who served as chair of MPI’s International Board of Directors from 2014-2015, and most recently served on the MPIF Global Board of Trustees since 2016, will oversee the non-profit organization that raises funds to provide members with professional development and career opportunities through grants and scholarships. The foundation also funds research and pan-industry initiatives that support MPI’s strategic plan.

Van Deventer also announced that MPI’s signature event, the World Education Congress, will go to Grapevine, Texas, in 2020, Las Vegas in 2021 and San Francisco in 2022. Next year’s event is in Toronto.

MPI delivered 72 education sessions on Smart Monday, Powered by MPI, plus four keynotes each morning during IMEX America. Van Deventer said 825 unique attendees participated in MPI Smart Monday education sessions while about 1,200 attended keynote session presentations by Julius Solaris, Kelly McDonald, Paul Smith and Thursday’s C2-inspired session “Emotions and Technology: An Exploration of Audience Connection.”

MPI also offered 15 booth education sessions over three days, drawing about 500 attendees, Van Deventer said.

Nearly $400,000 was raised for the MPI Foundation through its Red White and You wine action and the networking celebration Rendezvous, the IMEX America Night, which was attended by nearly 2,500 people.

Funds raised by the foundation support scholarships, grants and pan-industry research.



Rich Luna

Rich Luna is Director of Publishing for MPI and Editor-in-chief of The Meeting Professional.