Category Archives: Blog

‘Milestone moment’ – IMEX America honoured at AEO Awards

The IMEX Group has won Best International Show – Americas at the recent AEO Excellence Awards. The awards, held last Friday (24 June), honoured IMEX America 2021 which took place in November last year at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas.

Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group, explains why the show was a milestone moment for the team and the wider industry: “IMEX America 2021 was our first show in over two years and enabled us to reunite with our events industry family – we’re delighted to commemorate it with this award. 

“IMEX America was the first international event on American soil after the US government lifted travel restrictions – in fact, the show took place on the day the borders opened.

“Organising a show under these challenging conditions took a Herculean effort from the team, but the appreciation and elation of the global industry who joined us onsite made it all worthwhile.”

Registration has formally opened for IMEX America, October 11 – 13 2022 at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas. Attendee registration remains free for all buyer and supplier types: https://www.imexamerica.com/register-for-imex-america 

Rants of an Old Independent Meeting Planner

By Barry Zidel, Principal at Meeting Connections, Inc. 

Genesis: How did the events and meeting planning industry really begin? 

In thinking about this wild, wacky, and wonderful industry in which those of us find ourselves, it must have come into being by pure happenstance…rudimentarily perhaps by an executive of a company asking his assistant set up the conference room so he or she could comfortably address either a potential client, or to address internal personnel with, let’s say a somewhat formal or informal luncheon…… something to impress! 

As do most things, those instances can become quite successful, if even by accident. This happenstance bore fruit based on someone’s creativity and labor. My oh my, how this “accident” has grown in global proportions! From these humble beginnings with a singular individual and some creativity, it grew into small independent event and meeting planning companies worldwide! In today’s world there are tens of thousands of these companies in every corner of the globe. 

Of course, beyond these independents, there are in-house corporate and association planners. Make no mistake, these planners are just as sharp and adept as the independents. In fact, there are various degrees of reliance of independents from the in-house planners. Independent planners, by the nature of their existence and potential growth, are exposed to multiple industries and disciplines. My feeling when I got involved in this industry was that one either got it right away, or one did not and honestly never would! There’s no mystique/ It involves: a bit of creativity, psychology, and knowledge of just about everything, and certainly a lot guts! 

So here comes the “rant”. Evolution occurs in every walk of life. In this business “in the beginning” our working tools were lined pads of paper; pens, you know those things you sometimes pickup at tradeshows; pencils that are virtually extinct, an electric typewriter, a high-end “toy” called a telex machine; and of course, a telephone. I found the telephone was a special means of communicating with other human beings, who by the way, were also eager to converse with the caller! 

Now, with all these tools at hand, we were off to the races! We made appointments, had face to face meetings, developed business relationships and sometimes even friendships. From that point, we knew every element we had to deal with and oh my, if we had questions, or better ideas to make a meeting more effective, all we had to do was pick up the telephone to discuss what was necessary and the betterment of the project. Our job, and still is today, is to make our clients look great! 

We understood everything because beyond that old-timers’ stuff, relationships were at the very core of how we conducted this odd-ball amazing business. Generations change of course. Technology really evolves at a more rapid pace than ever before. That doesn’t mean that we, at any age, and for anyone who really cares about this business, have the pride and fortitude to aim for perfection can just not give care about developing relationships at every level of what we do.  

The growth of this industry is thanks to businesses like our small independent planners, corporate and association planners, hotels, a/v companies, off-premises food and beverage companies, airlines, multi-media companies, digital marketing companies, and on and on!  

It’s all about service, knowledge and connections! 

The U.S. no longer requires inbound air travelers to test negative for COVID-19

The U.S. no longer requires inbound air travelers to test negative for COVID-19. The testing mandate is due to end at midnight on Sunday,  June 12, 2022, according to a report from CNN

The Biden administration is expected to make an official announcement on Friday afternoon.

The move follows calls from the travel and hospitality industries to end the requirement, seeing it as a major setback for the recovery of the U.S. travel industry despite a huge demand from travelers. The mandate, which had been in place since January 2021, required all inbound travelers to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, regardless of their vaccination status. Other countries, including the U.K., Italy and Germany, have already lifted similar requirements. 

“Today marks another huge step forward for the recovery of inbound air travel and the return of international travel to the United States,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow, in a press statement. “The Biden administration is to be commended for this action, which will welcome back visitors from around the world and accelerate the recovery of the U.S. travel industry.

“International inbound travel is vitally important to businesses and workers across the country who have struggled to regain losses from this valuable sector. More than half of international travelers in a recent survey pointed to the pre-departure testing requirement as a major deterrent for inbound travel to the U.S.”

Dow also said that new data shows that “repealing the pre-departure testing requirement could bring an additional 5.4 million visitors to the U.S. and an additional $9 billion in travel spending through the remainder of 2022.”

Zane Kerby, the president and CEO of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), also responded to the news. “We are thrilled to see the end of the CDC’s inbound testing rule, which has been standing in the way of our industry’s recovery for too long,” Kerby said in a statement. “Since the start of the year, ASTA has been engaged in a multi-layered advocacy campaign to get to this point, including direct lobbying of Congress and Administration officials, grassroots action and pressure through national and local media. We commend the Biden Administration for taking this long-overdue step and thank ASTA members across the country for their hard work in helping get this across the finish line. While plenty of challenges remain in terms of rebuilding the travel agency business, today is a great day.”

Lorine Charles-St. Jules, the CEO of Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, is already hearing a sigh of relief from both travel advisors and travelers. “While most countries, like Saint Lucia, have made it seamless to schedule Covid testing before departing for the U.S., there is always uncertainty in travel,” Charles-St. Jules said. “Eliminating the testing requirement could spur further growth in international travel for Saint Lucia, the Caribbean, and all international destinations that appeal to the American market.”

For more travel news, click here

Solutions for Today’s Challenges

As meetings and events are resuming, new challenges are emerging. David Markham, ConventionPlanit.com co-founder, sheds light on the most frequent sourcing concerns challenging meeting professionals today and how RFP Valet® is especially helpful.   

What challenges are you hearing from meeting professionals today? 

Staffing! Both meeting and hotel sales departments likewise are understaffed, causing communication bottlenecks. Hotel revenue managers typically approve room rates quoted which also stalls the process. We can minimize this by extending the RFP response. Recognizing that limiting the number of destinations in order of preference from which to obtain quotes can be effective for both parties.

Limited Space! In many areas, it’s a sellers’ market because of the rebooking of previously cancelled meetings. Hotels are being careful with room blocks and rates. We emphasis why an RFP should be considered and responded to promptly. To obtain the approval of the hotel’s revenue manager we suggest providing food & beverage guarantee numbers. The more ammunition we can uncover and convey to the hotel, the better.

Where are the opportunities right now for planners to get what they need? 

Flexibility! Understanding that hotels have need periods and everyone has preferred dates, we advise that when putting together the RFP, meeting professionals should first clarify within their organizations what alternate dates that can be considered, including a flexible arrival/departure pattern. These steps can avoid going back a second time to check availability.

Consider both shoulder and valley dates and destinations which may not have been previously considered.  Airlift into select destinations in North America has actually increased over the past several months. Conduct research online and compile a short list of specific properties or destinations prior to going out to bid.

How can RFP Valet® help planners navigate through RFP sourcing in today’s unique landscape? 

Our experienced team consults with planners and distributes their RFP to designated suppliers, including NSOs. Suppliers complete requested bid criteria via email to the planner. Quotes and concessions are automatically compiled onto a comparison chart with attachments to download, forward or print out their results to present at a meeting. It’s all about service, which is so rare today.

What is ConventionPlanit.com? 

ConventionPlanit.com is an easy-to-use search directory and RFP portal that has been serving meeting professionals since 2003. Designed with input from our Advisory Council, our website empowers executives and meeting planners who source their own RFPs and negotiate their own contracts with time saving tools, industry resources and services. There are no commissions or hidden fees to worry about.  Paid advertisers are showcased, making the tools and services completely free.

Why should a planner use ConventionPlanit.com? 

Having an advocate in today’s new landscape is especially helpful today. We provide a powerful means of communication between the buyer and seller.  It saves valuable time finding what’s needed to plan meetings and events. Planners have the option of using RFP Valet®, for tools and services with suppliers, or use the search directory to locate destinations, facilities and service providers. Each listing provides direct contact information, so buyers are in touch with the appropriate sellers. 

A Perspective

Industry wide post pandemic permanent changes

Gary Hernbroth

Chief Motivating Officer

Training for Winners

My recent observations from speaking at the World Conference of the Club Management Association of America (CMAA) last month in San Diego are all very positive in terms of the industry “coming out of the pandemic.” It felt like a reunion with people greeting, hugging, dining and laughing together in person, coming off a year’s hiatus as a virtual event last year. Vaccinations were required, masks we optional (I saw very few), and you could put either a green, yellow or red sticker on your name badge depending on your level of comfort with contact. The excitement to be together again, learning and exhibiting, was palpable.

As a speaker, even though I did many virtual programs during Covid, I much prefer being in front of a room again. I could read body language better and use more physical gestures, moving around the room to get better engagement than presenting from a virtual office. The audience got a lot more out of it, as I did.

From an industry standpoint, I think the “permanent changes” posed in the question (at least for the foreseeable future) will revolve around:

·        Hybrid programming will add to an event’s costs and is more work for speakers who do it right, but it affords many more people the opportunity to participate, and creates an additional revenue opportunity for the group beyond just those attending in person;

·        Reduced expectations (and in some cases frustration) by customers, in terms of the way things were done before such as hotel housekeeping, staffing and service levels, meal selections and delivery, RFP responses, etc. I’ve seen many cases already where certain businesses just aren’t as easy to do business with as before the pandemic. It takes 4-5 steps to do what used to be done in 1 or 2 steps. Wait times are longer. Service attitudes seem to be very uneven. Patience will be a virtue, but it will come at a price;

·        Contracting and legal issues have likely turned a corner forever. All parties in a negotiation are wanting (needing) to cover themselves against the throes of a pandemic or similar far-reaching event in the future. We’ve had contracting issues before, but after a world episode like this – with no definitive end date in sight – no one wants to be caught in a legal tree shredder over it if they can help it. T

IMEX IN FRANKFURT – SHOW PREVIEW

An unforgettable experience with business and human connections at its heart: IMEX in Frankfurt returns 31 May – 2 June

“While doing business and powering our sector’s growth sits at the core of the show, IMEX in Frankfurt stands for so much more. Inspiration is one of our core values and we’re set to deliver this through a creative and cutting-edge show experience. An unforgettable experience that helps attendees reconnect and revive, supercharge their skillset and – importantly – have fun! By coming together – and celebrating 20 years of IMEX in Frankfurt – our community is set to create many memorable moments.” Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group, outlines the plans for the return of IMEX in Frankfurt, taking place 31 May – 2 June.

Global exhibitors announce major launches

An international range of exhibitors – destinations, venues, technology providers, incentive companies and more – are currently planning their participation at the show. Suppliers from Europe – Germany, France, Spain and Croatia; North America – Miami, San Francisco, Las Vegas; and Asia – Philippines and Taiwan; are among the dozens of destinations who have confirmed their participation in the past few weeks alone.

Parts of the business events sector have forged ahead in the past two years with investments in refurbishments, new venues and enhanced experiences. IMEX in Frankfurt will be the stage for some major launches such as Ethiopia’s new convention bureau, new venues, new professional development programmes and new industry partnerships.

Well over 2,500 buyers from 70 countries have registered to date, and hundreds of global buyers continue to register each week. An international mix of buyers from agencies, corporates and associations, plus independent professionals have all confirmed participation at the show.

Bespoke education for associations, corporates & agencies

IMEX is supporting specialists with dedicated learning for association, agency and corporate executives taking place the day before the show, on Monday 30 May. Exclusively Corporate is set to welcome experts from SAP, Bolt Financial and Siemens Healthineers (as well as a former Premier League Footballer!) for case study-led education and peer-to-peer discussions. Agency planners can shape the focus of IMEX’s co-created Agency Directors Forum, choosing what best fits their needs from subjects including: growth opportunities; lessons learned from the pandemic; adapting to a changed event landscape; trends and technology impacting business strategy, and reconsidering staffing options. Separately, Association Focus will deliver learning and networking exclusively for association professionals of all levels. The collaborative programme offers insight, inspiration and real-world recommendations and resolutions to the challenges facing associations across the world today.

Building connections to support business recovery

It has never been more important to upskill for the new world of work and 150+ educational events onsite cover Professional Development and Upskilling; Creativity in Communication; Diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility; Innovation and Tech; and Purposeful Recovery.

Team dynamics and roles have shifted since the lockdown leading to a new approach to recruitment strategy. In ‘Where’s my team?’ Tanesha Moody, Former Director Field and Events Marketing at Bolt Financial, will provide guidance on building an evolutionary team from scratch. Her professional theatre background gives Tanesha a unique take on planning and delivering events.

Robert Kenward, Fitability® Recruiter at You Search and Select and Founder of The Hub, is holding a workshop to help event professionals deal with ‘the great resignation’. He says: “As the industry rebuilds, the focus for many businesses is to scale-up by recruiting the right talent. This session will enable delegates to supercharge their recruitment strategy which in turn will have an immediate and positive impact on how they attract, select and retain talent.”

‘One of Europe’s leading business networking strategists’ according to the Financial Times, Andy Lopata, moderates a panel session unpacking the strategy behind ‘Building back together’. Event professionals from Farnborough International, DRPG and Enited Business Events join Andy to discuss the vital role strong relationships played in supporting them during the pandemic, and in their business recovery. Andy explains: “Relationships underpin the success of our businesses and the events we’re involved with. Yet it has become harder to nurture those relationships, let alone meet new people, during the pandemic. My goal is to arm attendees with new ideas, practical advice and, most importantly of all, the confidence and energy to actively pursue a strategy of building, nurturing and leveraging the relationships that will drive their businesses forward.”

Wellbeing moments

Experts from the Listening Collective will bring their own powerful brand of coaching with a dedicated space, The Listening Lab, which will help attendees develop their own ‘listening superpowers’. “When we’re skilfully listened to and challenged, we hear ourselves better – then change follows,” explains Listening Collective founder Jon Barnes.

The focus on wellbeing continues at the Be Well Lounge. Brought to you by Inner Sense and supported by Costa Rica DMC and Weichlein Tours, the Lounge offers a space to pause, unwind and recharge. Attendees craving an energetic start to the day will enjoy the 5km IMEXrun, developed by VOQIN – a bright and brisk walk, jog or run along the banks of Frankfurt’s River Main.

Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group, says: “With our worldwide roster of suppliers and confirmed buyers, we’re confident the show floor will be a hub of activity where the industry can comfortably and effectively do business. We can’t wait to get back to business in Frankfurt and celebrate the sheer joy of being back together – our industry lives and breathes face to face business events and from what we’re witnessing, it’s raring to go.” Carina shares more detail about what to expect at the show here.

IMEX in Frankfurt takes place 31 May – 2 June 2022 – the business events community can register here. Registration is free.

www.imex-frankfurt.com

IMEX in Frankfurt 2022 will take place at Messe Frankfurt from 31 May – 2 June 2022.
wFor further press information, please contact:
Emma Blake: emmablake@clareville.co.uk

A collaborative approach…the future of business event planning

Valerie Sumner

Principal

VRS Meetings & Events, Inc.

Business event strategy is now, more than ever, the driver for our team and clients.  Measuring data metrics, determining the unique program opportunities, carefully evaluating each program (financially and programmatically) to determine the most effective delivery platform (face to face, hybrid or virtual) is key for all events.

Business event strategy is now, more than ever, the driver for our team and clients.  Measuring data metrics, determining the unique program opportunities, carefully evaluating each program (financially and programmatically) to determine the most effective delivery platform (face to face, hybrid or virtual) is key for all events.


Taking that information and digging into the value and cost benefit for each audience is crucial. Making these determinations will be the “secret-sauce” for organizational event strategy moving forward.  Utilizing this information – along with continued re-evaluation – will be a priority over the next 2 – 3 years.  

House Members are STILL fighting for aid for the Live Events Industry

By Wendy E. Porter

Owner, Wendy Porter Events, LLC

Vice-Chair, Government Affairs, Live Events Coalition

March 18, 2022

On December 21, 2020, Congress passed the $15 billion Shuttered Venues Operators Grant (SVOG) as part of the COVID Relief Bill. And then on March 11, 2021, Congress passed the $1.2 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), of which $360 billion was allocated to state and local governments to support COVID relief efforts, including for small business relief. I’m hearing from a lot of misguided people that my industry “must be okay” now. Well… not so fast. 

While the SVOG was very much needed to keep our small independent venues, like Minneapolis’ First Avenue, alive, it didn’t go far enough. It helped the small venues stay afloat by covering their operating losses, but it didn’t help support the every-day gig worker or small business owners, who create events at those venues. 

The ARPA funding theoretically pushed billions into small businesses in the Live Events Industry, but yet, most of that money never got where it was intended to go, as states had wide discretion on how to distribute the funds. According to a September 2021 survey by the Live Events Coalition, over 90% of small businesses in the Live Events Industry have been completely left out of aid from these packages.

And then people said, “Congress is not prioritizing the money correctly. There are people standing in food lines, and they give it to the arts with SVOG? Who cares about the arts! Why aren’t they giving more to restaurants, where people are REALLY in need?”

I’m here to tell you why you should care. About the Arts and all the rest of the Live Events Industry, in which I have been employed for the last 20 years of my career. These ARE the people who are really in need… I’d argue as much or more than any other industry. After all, there was no curbside pickup in Live Events. We were literally SHUT DOWN. For almost two years. And some of our segments (i.e. Corporate) and not really back yet. Corporate trade shows are just starting to be held in person again. My company has done one in-person trade show. In two years. And it happened last week.

The Live Events Industry is the biggest “unknown” industry in the US, annually representing a conservatively estimated nearly $1 TRILLION in direct spending. This industry includes ALL events where people gather that are professionally organized. That includes not only Arts/Theatre, but also Conferences, Trade Shows, Business Meetings, Weddings, Funerals, Graduations, Birthday & Anniversary Celebrations, Art & Music Festivals, Concerts, Music Tours, Parades, Fundraisers, Awards Galas, Inaugurations, Sporting Events… basically the entire fabric of our culture and society. 

Every single person in the US takes part in a professionally organized event at some point in their lives. We are the people in black behind the curtain. When we do our jobs right, you don’t know we are there. That is completely by design. It’s supposed to look effortless. And over the last two years, that’s really hurt us. No one seems to know we exist and how large the industry is. It’s beyond time to come out from the shadows.

According to the Live Events Coalition, 12 million people work in the Live Events Industry in the US, with hundreds of types of jobs represented across over 1 million small businesses. From event producers coordinating the entire event, to the truck drivers hauling the gear,10 million of these people were 100% unemployed due to no fault of their own and an additional two million were underemployed.

To put that in context, in November 2020, 22 million people were unemployed in the US. 45% of the unemployed were people FROM the Live Events Industry. These were the people who were standing in food lines and not able to pay their rent. And many of these people are still not back to work or have mountains of debt to overcome. Homes, cars and other assets have been sold. 401K’s, savings accounts and college funds wiped out. People have taken their lives. The COVID-19 impact on the workforce in the Live Events Industry has been severe and staggering.

This is about a HUGE industry of people that have not been cared for by our government when they were forced to stop working due to government mandates to stop the spread of a deadly disease. So yes, if you care about Restaurant workers, you should also care about Live Events Industry workers. We are all interconnected.  An event is at the epicenter. People drive to get to the event; they stay in hotels; they eat at restaurants; they shop. The ripple effect is massive. Make no mistake, events are a major economic driver across the globe, and our industry has been forgotten.

To give you a comparison, in 2018, the US Automotive Industry was a $545.4 billion industry. The Live Events Industry is nearly two times larger. The US Automotive Industry got a government bailout several years ago for mismanagement because they were “too big to fail.” We have not mismanaged our businesses, but yet, we are not being seen as having a need. We were the first to close. And we have been the last to reopen… with many events still not back on the calendar.

The Live Events Industry is part of the entire US ecosystem. From the food grown by the farmers that is served by caterers, to the power used by utility companies to light events up and create the sound… to the flowers grown for weddings, and the gas used by truckers to get gear from point A to point B. If you think this “doesn’t matter”, you are sorely mistaken and entirely missing the point.

Think of a big game of Jenga, where the pieces are all interconnected to create the tower. The pieces are slowly being pulled out. You take out too many of the pieces… the entire thing collapses. That is exactly what is at risk. The people in our industry are those Jenga pieces in our society. Stop thinking of this as just the Guthrie or just the Kennedy Center or just First Avenue. Think of the entire ecosystem impacted. It’s massive.

Are we still fighting? You bet we are! Why? Because our industry now has a 2-year hole to dig out of. We have all been in the same storm over the last two years. But some of us have been on yachts. Some of us have been paddling in canoes. And some of us have been drowning. We are the ones drowning. We are not asking to be made whole by Congress. We have never asked for that. We are asking for the same help afforded to other parts of our society during this crisis, which is still not over. We just need a lifeboat to help us weather this storm until it passes.

We have active legislation in the works, being championed by Representative Dean Phillips (D-MN). In fact, just yesterday, an article ran in Politico about a Letter to Speaker Pelosi and Chair DeLauro asking them to support an active bill to get more help for businesses in live events, gyms, restaurants not supported by the Restaurant Revitalization Act (RRA) because the funding ran out, and for other small businesses that have been left out of aid.

The Live Events Industry is also “too big to fail”, and it’s more than time for Congress to take appropriate action to support this vital industry in our US economy.

____________________________________________________________

Wendy Porter, a nationally award-winning event strategist, is the Chief Events Officer of Wendy Porter Events, LLC, based in Minneapolis, MN. She is the Founder/President for the Live Events Coalition Minnesota, the Vice-Chair of Government Affairs for the National Live Events Coalition, and she sits on the National Board of Directors of LEC. Over the last two years, Wendy’s advocacy for the Live Events Industry has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, on CNBC and MPR, and in several local press outlets in Minnesota.

TheLive Events Coalition was established in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impact on the live events industry. LEC exists to provide advocacy, resources and a network that connects and supports all of the businesses, contractors and our workforce – the lifeblood of every event. To learn more: www.liveeventscoalition.org

AMP’s Summer Bash

The Association of Meeting Professionals (AMPs) is getting back  to what their members and the Industry wants…live events!  The much anticipated and long awaited Summer Bash was held on Tuesday, July 13 with 150+ participants. Held at the American Institute of Architects @aiaspecialevents it was a HOT event in more ways than one.  Although it was originally scheduled to be held outdoors, the heat was the driving factor in bringing the party indoors.  AIA provided a great live event space where attendees were spread out on two levels in an open atrium to allow for physical distancing if attendees felt more comfortable.

Going inside didn’t stop the fun of everyone being together and feeling comfortable to hug friends and colleagues and respecting those that wanted to maintain social distancing.

It was a great event that included music by Scott Kurt, food and beverage by Root and Stem .  A menu of summertime salads, sliders, cones and mini desserts, attendees cooled themselves down with light summer drinks.  We even offered an outdoor seating area where attendees could comfortably watch a cornhole competition!

Attendees came not only from the DMV but as far as California to participate in this annual event.  It was a much needed event as we slowly re-enter the live event space comfortably and safely.  For more information on AMPs, please contact info@ampsweb.org or visit:  https://ampsweb.org/