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The IMEX A to Z of 2017: 5 trends to watch as the year unfolds

2016 was no slouch of a year for the meetings industry nor, indeed, for the world at large. Dramatic forces were at play and many of us shared a sense that, even if we wanted to grasp the pace or nature of change taking place, we barely had the time or the head space to do so. 2016 was pivotal – and it felt like it.

Looking ahead to 2017, IMEX has identified five trends which, starting at A and ending at Z, are anything but simple or linear in the impact they’ll have on the meetings and events industry. In fact, we already predict that by 2018 ‘clarity’ will be the watchword of the moment.

AI & VR

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) used to be the future. Then, over the last two years, the first VR headsets started to appear at IMEX (Frankfurt and America), with destinations and venues as the ‘early adopters’. By the end of 2016, both technologies had made the final transition from fringe to freely available. The future had arrived.

Grip, the world’s first artificial intelligence (AI) event networking solution won the #IMEXpitch at IMEX America in Las Vegas. Elsewhere, at IBM’s World of Watson conference, AI was the ‘driver’ of a 3D-printed, driverless minibus that toured the show floor, giving passengers restaurant recommendations.

In the world of virtual reality, WorldViz, a behind-the-scenes VR company that’s been working on large-scale, enterprise solutions, launched its new platform for business communication. The project, codenamed “Skofield”, allows remote users to make cross-platform presentations in VR.

Both AI and VR offer exciting new frontiers for suppliers in the meetings and events industry. Expect AI, and especially VR (not forgetting Augmented Reality), to capture both the imagination and the headlines in 2017.

Tech-connecting

One of the challenges of being at a large business event is the lingering sense that there are potential (and great) new contacts all around. But do we all identify, locate and then meet those new contacts? The rise of social media but, more importantly, of networking technologies and apps is fast changing our ability to satisfy that need. This urge to find and connect with ‘the right kind’ of each other at live events is what IMEX calls ‘finding your tribe.’

This trend is about both targeting and personalisation. Witness Loopd, winners of the 2015 IMEXpitch and (once again) Grip, the 2016 IMEXpitch winners. Equally, Zenvoy, partnered with IMEX to provide a pre, during and post-show ‘match-making’ service for buyers/attendees to meet or work with each other; a natural add-on to the show’s core appointment system, which enables buyers to meet with exhibitors.

Witness too the rise of snapchat and private messaging. Many of the big conversations at shows, conferences and other events are now happening online – and in private. Where social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram bring the immediate show experience – and audience feedback – to life in a dynamic way (especially with the advent of Facebook Live), Snapchat and private messaging services allow sub-groups and ‘tribes’ to find each other, talk and make plans in private.

As many of these tech-connecting services race to become the favourite, go-to brand of the moment, expect to see some triumph and scale up to great acclaim, while others simply don’t – or can’t – keep pace.

Disruption

‘Are PCOs and hotels prepared to manage the increasing disruption and challenges in accommodation services for international meetings?’ was the title of a hot-topic discussion at ICCA’s recent Conference in Kuching, Malaysia.

‘Increasing disruption’ aptly sums up the prevalence of disruptive forces not only in the meetings and events industry but also all around us. The ICCA discussion focussed on the impact of booking portals and event scammers with fake websites but Airbnb has similar potential to disrupt the traditional meetings space market.

‘Disruption’ could easily lay claim to being THE word of 2016.  Dr Kaihan Krippendorff’s PCMA Business School session at IMEX in Frankfurt – ‘The Outthinker Playbook – Devising Disruptive Strategies’ drew a large and eager audience, as did Jay Samit’s presentation ‘Disrupt You!’ at IMEX America 2016.

‘Disruption’ also describes the impact of unexpected political results in 2016 – namely Brexit and the U.S. Presidential election. Even though the fallout has so far been short-term, most organisations (in all industries worldwide) are on alert for the long-term consequences. Harking back to a favoured phrase from five or six years ago, 2017 heralds a sense that ‘disruption’ is set to be the ‘new normal’.

Unsubscribing
Last year at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference, Professor Sir Cary Cooper said a compulsion to deal with messages caused UK employees to become less productive than many of their international counterparts.

“For people to be working at night, weekends and holiday on emails is not good for the health of our country,” he told the BBC. “We need to ban emails [sent and received] within the same building,” he said, advocating instead for face-to-face meetings and phone calls.

Independent research by Atos Origin highlighted that the average employee spends 40% of their working week dealing with internal emails which add no value to the business.

Add to that newsletters, social media notifications and e-shots and it’s clear to see why many people are eager to seize back their time.  In effect, this trend is a flight towards more authentic and meaningful productivity.

Expect unsubscribes and opt-outs to rise as individuals reclaim their inboxes, their sanity and their time.

In turn, the purposeful creation and appreciation of ‘no-thing’ time (using planning approaches such as White Space) will win more and more fans in 2017.

Zs

Workplace demographic shifts really gathered pace in 2016, with Generation Z now heading over the horizon.  By the end of this decade Zs will account for around 20 per cent of the work force.

Born in the late 1990s onwards, Zs were the first to grow up with the Internet and portable technology at their fingertips, virtually from birth! According to various research reports, compared with those born in the 15 or so years before them – Generation Y, the Millennials – they are distinctly different (hence their disparaging, alternative label, ‘Generation Snowflake’…because every little snowflake is unique).

From a communications and meetings perspective, Zs are tech-intuitive, tech-based multi-taskers and good at online collaboration but tend to have weaker face-to-face and social skills, are liable to be distracted easily and have a short attention span.

According to the 2015 Way to Work survey by Adecco Staffing USA, as employees Zs want financial stability (a result of living through recession and the burden of student debt), a dream job, entrepreneurial opportunities, a flexible work-life balance, regular face-to-face mentoring and plenty of feedback from the boss. In pursuit of this they’re likely to job-hop in their early years.

As an event or meetings audience Zs are set to place strong, new demands on planners, venues and brands. Whether they prove to be high value or just high maintenance, 2017 should reveal all.

More opportunities and time to do business at IMEX in Frankfurt

IMEX in Frankfurt 2016 strongly reflects the vitality of the industry.

imex frankfurtThe show, which opened today, was packed with opportunities to do business, find new suppliers and prospects, to learn about the latest trends and meet industry colleagues from across the world.

With 3,500 exhibiting companies representing 150 countries, 400+ exhibitor networking events and with over 180 education sessions, the scope for business and learning is greater than ever.

There are 42 new stands and hundreds of new exhibitors at the show this year covering all corners of the globe including Aruba, Catalunya, Guatemala, Kenya, Montenegro, Romania and Sardinia. The growth of technology within the industry is reflected in a 12 per cent growth at IMEX 2016 with Catchbox, Convertio, Digivents and Fielddrive among new exhibitors.

50 established exhibitors have increased their stands including Brand USA, Denmark, Hong Kong, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Qatar and Serbia. Hotels are again well represented at IMEX 2016 with Wyndham Hotels returning to the show and Hilton, Preferred, Titanic and Trump Hotels taking larger stands. The cruise lines area has doubled with Buy the Sea, 3D Cruise Partners and Variety Cruises exhibiting for the first time this year.

More hosted buyer groups

Demand from buyers worldwide continues to grow. More than 20 new hosted buyer groups are attending the show from China, Latin America, the USA and Poland among many. A group of International Special Events Society members from across the globe are also visiting prior to their Global Event Summit in Scotland.

Many buyers will be spending significantly more time on the show floor as a result of two new initiatives this year. While all buyers can now enter the show at 0945 and group appointments now start later and finish earlier, many European hosted buyers have also opted to be at the show for an extra day by choosing the new two night programme which is already available to long-haul hosted buyers.

On the show floor on opening day are also more than 300 international association representatives following the highly successful IMEX Association Day & Evening on Monday, as well as nearly 90 corporate sector buyers who took part in the annual Exclusively Corporate @IMEX event and who together control budgets in the region of US$200 million.

More than 40 politicians and policy makers from around the world including ministers are visiting the exhibition before taking part, with 80 industry leaders, in the 14th annual IMEX Politicians Forum. The main theme is building and sustaining a successful meetings industry with keynote speaker the Hon Minister Stuart Ayres, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events for New South Wales.

At the Opening Ceremony, keynote speaker David DuBois, President & CEO of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events and Immediate Past Chair of Convention Industry Council, highlighted the worldwide impact of the meetings and events industry on the economy and overall marketplace beyond tourism.

In a powerful and engaging speech he said: “The business events industry provides the catalyst for transitioning towards a knowledge and creative society. Indeed governments themselves acknowledge that it takes a meeting or a summit to solve global issues and to avoid catastrophe… and when scientists, medics and technologists meet, they too change the world.”

Education innovations

The IMEX educational programme, based at the Inspiration Hub, will offer over 180 educational seminars and workshops covering ten different tracks to match every need. New this year is a series of short and snappy TED-style talks focused on ‘Trends and Future-Think’ brought by the Swedish Network of Convention Bureaus. The Play Room (by Play With A Purpose) brings its interactive ‘quirkshops’ to IMEX in Frankfurt for the first time. Also on Monday, the successful first PCMA Business School in Europe was a new high-level addition to the range of education at the show.

Sharing economy

The sharing economy is a hot topic at the show this year. To help all sectors of the global meetings and events industry understand the implications of this new business model better, it will be explored through several seminars including a panel session (9am, Wednesday 20th April) with sharing economy pioneers discussing ‘How can we work with the new sharing economy?’

‘Business is Personal’ is a new theme to meet buyers’ own personal development and professional needs, with sessions on leadership skills, developing confidence and fostering strong connections. The show also reflects this with meditation and yoga sessions in the new Be Well Lounge (by InnerSense and supported by Weichlein Tours + Incentives and Munich Convention Bureau), and the IMEXrun early on Wednesday (7am) inspired by Rio de Janeiro.

Ray Bloom, Chairman of the IMEX Group said: “There are countless opportunities for everyone to do business, learn or meet here this week. The thousands of exhibitors, buyers, press and other industry professionals here this week to make the most of these opportunities are testament to the strength, resilience and vibrancy of our important sector.”

Wynn Las Vegas 2016-2017
Hyatt Convention Alliance

IMEX America Proves Strength of Meetings Industry

Representatives from CP.com supplier partners had a good showing in the hall. Among them were:

  • Dave Gabri – Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI was celebrating 30 years in the industry!)

ALHI celebrated 30 years in the industry at this year’s IMEX America

  • Martina Fundaro – The Prague Convention Bureau
  • Marie McKown – Meet in Ireland (newest member!)
  • Cat Puccino – Visit Santa Barbara
  • Angeline Liu/Alan Pryor/Anette Palm – Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre
  • Patricia Beaudoux – Cotai Strip Macau
  • Julie Dodds – Visit Anchorage
  • Dan O’Neil/Bonnie Carlson – Bloomington CVB

Ray Bloom, Chairman of IMEX, addresses the media at the IMEX America closing press conference

The closing press conference had Ray Bloom, Chairman of IMEX giving us the rundown on this year’s event. For those judging success “by the numbers”, here are a few stats:

  • 10,600 participants including buyers, visitors and exhibitors
  • 66,000 individual and group appointments along with stand presentations took place
  • 51% or more of appointments included a profile or RFP
  • 80 new booths with 56 returning exhibitors increasing their space
  • 412 exhibitors and buyers participated in the IMEX run Las Vegas routed along the famous Strip

However, the biggest success was not measured in numbers but in the upbeat mood of nearly everyone on the show floor as the economy strengthens and companies expand meeting budgets.

In fact, this has generated a big problem for IMEX America going forward.

With so many new exhibitors and expanded booths this year, the trade show has maxed out its hall in the Sands Expo and will not have room for exhibitors to expand until it can move into a larger space in 2018. Not a bad problem for our industry to have!!

As always, all attendees fortunate enough to attend IMEX America were exposed to high levels of business and networking. Along with the record number of appointments and packed-out education events, some of the novel ideas to encourage mingling in the various stands included viewing a live Sumo Demonstration and applauding the winner of this year’s Huggability Award…fortunately not taking place in the same stand!

Along with Wayne Newton and Celine Dion, Las Vegas is getting famous for hosting IMEX America! So new planners, to see what all this fuss is about, sign up to participate as a ConventionPlanit.com Hosted Buyer next year when the show will take place October 18-20, 2016.

IMEX America Showbuzz

The month of October is known for cooler weather, falling leaves and IMEX America in Las Vegas.

Your intrepid blogger is happy to bring you the “showbuzz” for the fifth edition of the largest meetings industry trade show in the U.S.!

Even the Democratic Debates took a back seat to this show, boasting more than 3,100 exhibitors representing 150 countries interacting with 3,000 buyers from 54 countries.

Your intrepid blogger with two of our hosted buyers

And, once again, ConventionPlanit.com sponsored a group of Hosted Buyers to participate in the shows’ innovative agenda enabling them to:

  • Conduct up to a year’s worth of global business in only 2-3 days… without needing a passport
  • Learn from the best minds in the business during the Education sessions
  • Enjoy both professional and personal networking

Our corporate and association planners also participated in Group Appointments with CP.com supplier partners from the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau, the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and the Philippine Department of Tourism.

It was hard to believe that along with all the rushing around amid the super charged atmosphere of IMEX America (i.e. if I’d been wearing a FitBit, I would have blown out the mileage calculator!), there was actually a “Wellness” theme infusing the entire show.

Along with the health and well-being track that ran through the education program, participants were encouraged to stop by certain booths that were dispensing everything from green energy shots to fruit boosts and granola bars.

Needless to say, it was more difficult to find these healthy options that it was to locate Louisville Bourbon, Bailey’s Irish Cream and wine from just about any destination on the show floor! Yours truly felt very healthy early on but must admit to enjoying a “wee dram” of Scotland’s best whiskey to end a challenging day.

Are you attending IMEX America?

imex americaIf you are attending IMEX America later this month, come visit ConventionPlanit at Booth 866!

Take a tour of the ConventionPlanit Website and learn how planning your meetings can be a breeze with our RFP Tools.

Simplify the RFP process with our customizable tools. Have your RFP responses organized and receive complimentary consulting from our seasoned team of experts. Receive RFP responses within 24 hours — guaranteed.

Sourcing, consulting, and technology tools — with no hidden fees or markups.

See you in Las Vegas!

Learning Exploration at IMEX Frankfurt

CP.com's Hosted Buyer Group listening attentively to the Columbia Tourism Office presentation

CP.com’s Hosted Buyer Group listening attentively to the Columbia Tourism Office presentation

Soon-to-be CP.com supplier partner Columbia gave an in depth presentation on their exciting Latin American destination. The National Tourist Office was supported by 11 partners representing hotels, DMC’s, CVB’s and convention centers.

Maureen Pickell surrounded by her Hosted Buyer Group in standard “presentation formation.”!

Maureen Pickell surrounded by her Hosted Buyer Group in standard “presentation formation”!

Hosted Buyers included Maureen Wyse, The MBA Tour/Kristin Combes, Knect Events/Chris Morse, The Travel Center/Wendy Pangburn, Pangburn Partners/Terry Combes, Help You Get Organized Events/Michele Stephenson, CTMS Travel/Martha Benson, SAE International/Emily Rodrigues, ACBS.

ray-150519_002

The closing press conference had Ray Bloom, Chairman of IMEX giving us the rundown on this year’s event. For those judging success “by the numbers”, here are a few stats:

9,000 participants including buyers, visitors and exhibitors

62,000 individual and group appointments along with stand presentations took place

50% or more of appointments included a profile or RFP

3,900 plus hosted buyers attended

55 new stands with 20% of returning exhibitors increasing their space

Statistics are important, but I’m going to leave you with a quote from one of our Hosted Buyer Group attendees, summing up the importance of the entire week:

“Dear Maureen,

Just a quick note to thank you for inviting me to IMEX Frankfurt.  It was a great
experience, I met people that I can do business with and made some new friends.

Thanks again,

Chris Morse
Corporate Travel / The Travel Center USA”

Until next year!

Healthy Living at IMEX Frankfurt

Navigating through 9,000 participants and being overwhelmed by the dual cacophony of sound and stimulation that defines a successful trade show environment does not usually contribute to an attendee’s well-being.

However, this year the IMEX Knowledge & Events team turned this around under the “Be Well at IMEX” tagline.

meditation-150520_003

 

A new Meditation Room offered a sanctuary from the buzz of the show floor and your rattled blogger took the occasion to drop in and chill out during the week. Also available were Yoga, relaxation exercises and guided meditation…but getting down/ up from a floor mat in full business attire was too much of a challenge!!

Oh, and if hurrying around the huge convention center to make each appointment wasn’t enough exercise, Brazil sponsored the IMEXrun at 7am one morning…a 5 kilometer jaunt that attracted 250 runners from 50 countries. (BTW, I wasn’t one of them!).

IMEX Frankfurt 2015 – The Olympic Games

welcome-150519_001

As usual, mid-May finds your ConventionPlanit.com intrepid blogger arriving in Frankfurt, Germany for the IMEX 2015 show aka the “Olympic Games of the Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition Industry.”

The CP.com group of Hosted Buyers were geared up to take on a show floor comprised of 3,500 exhibiting companies representing over 150 countries. To say that the week was positioned for everyone to seize vast opportunities to learn, to meet and to do business is quite the understatement!

The Media Conferences held during IMEX week are a good way to keep up with the new developments being launched by our CP.com supplier partners. Here are a few:

Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre has initiated a Professional Development Grant aimed at growing the next generation of local meetings industry leaders in Malaysia. The KLCC is also celebrating 10 enriching years of “Focusing on Perfection, Always!”

ACC Liverpool unveiled their Plus Liverpool initiative which provides support for clients looking to bring their global events to the city and ACC Liverpool. By packaging this partnership approach to working with organizers, they ensure that all events are as seamless as possible.

Heike Mahmood, Director of Conventions for the Berlin Convention Bureau chats with a new client.

Heike Mahmood, Director of Conventions for the Berlin Convention Bureau chats with a new client.

Visit Berlin announces their city as now the 4th most popular convention destination in the world!

 

IMEX Frankfurt Hosted Buyer Opportunity

IMEX FrankfurtIMEX Frankfurt is gearing up to be the largest yet, and qualified meeting planners can attend for free.

If you are responsible for placing two or more international meetings annually (away from the US, Canada and the Caribbean), join ConventionPlanit.com at IMEX Frankfurt 2015 via the Hosted Buyer Program.

IMEX returns to Frankfurt May 19-21, 2015. Don’t miss your chance to be part of our Hosted Buyer Program and join this group of valued meetings organizers as a guest of IMEX. At IMEX Frankfurt, you’ll meet suppliers from across the United States and around the world under one roof. Along with conducting business with them, you will be able to benefit from tailored education and peer-to-peer networking.

What is included?

  • Roundtrip airfare
  • Accommodation at one of our partner hotels
  • Airport transfers
  • Access to the Hosted Buyer Lounge with phone charging stations, free luggage storage and complimentary WiFi
  • Dedicated Hosted Buyer team to support you and your clients

Bonus – our Hosted Buyer group is led by my colleague (and fellow blogger) Maureen Pickell. Her company always promises to be entertaining!

For more information or to register, please comment below with your contact information and a member of our staff will be in touch with details about the application process!

IMEX America Wrap Up

I found a few more photos floating around on my devices that I wanted to share with you all. The third and final day of the show, I had a chance to check out some of CP’s partners amazing booths.

Associated Luxury Hotels International had a very large space at the show, and with 160+ member hotels, it was easy to see why the extra space was needed!

ALHI's Stand

ALHI’s Stand

One of CP’s newest CVB members, Team San Jose, had a great display. Stay tuned to learn more about their great destination on CP.com!

San Jose Stand

Team San Jose Stand

Visit Anchorage was busy with appointments when I stopped by, but rest assured, their booth was filled with their famous adorable stuffed moose giveaways.

Visit Anchorage

Visit Anchorage

Los Angeles had an amazing display of photography at their booth that showcased some of their great attractions that make the city so unique.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

Maureen attended the IMEX America Closing Press Conference, which this year expanded to include the three representatives pictured with their partner, Ray Bloom. Obviously the 4th edition of IMEX America surpassed all records previously established.

Allow me to share some year over year statistics with you:

  • Exhibiting companies representing 240 countries  (13% increase)
  • 2900 hosted buyers (8% increase)
  • 53,000 one-to-one business appointments (6% increase)
  • 1250 group appointments attended by 10,600 hosted buyers (12% increase)
IMG_0075

L to R: Cindy D’Aoust – COO of MPI; Chandra Allison – Vice President of Sales The Venetian|The Palazzo; Cathy Tull – Senior V.P. Marketing, Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Association; Ray Bloom: Chairman of IMEX

Maureen also had a chance to explore some of the other stands, and wouldn’t you know, she decided to take a nap! The Delta Air Lines stand brought all the comforts of flight to Las Vegas with this plush bedding and seat.

A Delta flight attendant tucks Maureen in

A Delta flight attendant tucks Maureen in

Last, but certainly not least, I wanted to share a picture of the “Three Amigas” as we dubbed ourselves – the ConventionPlanit IMEX America 2014 Team!

Ashley, Maureen, Sandra

Ashley, Maureen, Sandra

Mark your calendars for October 13-15, 2015 for the fifth anniversary of IMEX America!