Successful IMEX in Frankfurt Taps Into Imaginations

Blog > Industry News

Successful IMEX in Frankfurt Taps Into Imaginations

By Rich Luna | May 23, 2019

IMEX Chair Ray Bloom may have only one regret about his 17th annual IMEX meeting and incentive travel exhibition event in Frankfurt. He didn’t have enough time to see it all himself—and this show, it turns out, was indeed quite special.

The mega meeting and event industry event ended its run in Frankfurt on Thursday (23 May) with another outstanding show that brought together about 14,000 meeting industry professionals who gathered again to primarily focus on business opportunities and networking on the Messe Frankfurt show floor.

Bloom said close to 70,000 individual and group appointments were made, with 72 percent having a mini RFP attached. There were about 3,500 exhibitors representing 172 countries. The EduMonday program, which takes place before the show opens, attracted 1,100 people, a new high. The show also featured about 250 education sessions.

But that part is a tried-and-true formula for Bloom, CEO Carina Bauer and the IMEX team. What was most impressive was the execution of the IMEX Talking Point, the Power of Imagination, which not only captured attendee attention in Hall 9 across from the show floor, but also found its way onto the main floor in Hall 8.

“Something felt very different about this one,” Bloom said. “Every time I was on the show floor, I saw things I had not seen before and a tremendous amount of energy. If it wasn’t for this (waving his personal schedule), I would have liked to have seen more it.”

He will probably have the chance, as the success of an increased focus on technology and the impact is it having on the business will only grow in future shows, including IMEX America in Las Vegas this September.

Robots, virtual reality, holograms and artificial intelligence all had an increased presence to coincide with the power of imagination theme. The Discovery Zone and the engagement in the Red Lab also helped energize that aspect of the show to create an experience that Bauer believes resonated with attendees.

“What struck me was how many exhibitors incorporated that theme, the power of imagination, in their stands,” Bauer said. “They weren’t telling people about their destinations or even showing them; they were making the attendees a part of it. They wanted to give people an experience and have some fun. The energy, creating memories, it all becomes sticky.”

She said the talking point of imagination became the force behind the ideas and concepts such as the holographic show and the 360-degree photography booth, “which are truly mind-stretching experiences. What’s more, sitting on live grass in our Central Park with the sound of birdsong nearby is a wonderful experience, a tranquil moment away from a busy, buzzing show floor nearby.”

The melding of business and engagement has been building—last year, it was the

C2 SkyLab, where attendees lined up to experience a meeting in mid-air—and will continue to evolve in future shows.

Meeting Professionals International, a strategic partner with IMEX, had a strong presence with education, business networking, the MPI Foundation and member engagement, including a meeting with European chapter leaders and a meeting of the European Advisory Council. MPI held a Leadership Talks session at the MPI stand with MPI’s senior leaders that attracted an overflow crowd.

MPI also played off the imagination theme with an area devoted to creative inspiration around topics such as transformation and collaboration, diversity and inclusion and sustainability.

On the topic of sustainability, MPI awarded the MPIF/Maritz Global Event Student Scholarship Award to Emile Coetzee from North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa, who won the IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum International University Challenge. Her presentation was on sustainability in food.

As part of the award, she has the option of attending MPI’s World Education Congress (WEC), June 15-18 in Toronto, or MPI’s European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC) next February in Sevilla, Spain.

“I wanted something that would make people think about sustainability and food waste,” she said. “I was thinking about the forbidden fruit; it was such a catchy subject. No one talks about what is the food of the future, but everyone always wants to be healthier in what they eat.” 



Rich Luna

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