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IMEX America 2021 Gets the Band Back Together!

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The 10th edition of IMEX America held November 9-11 at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas was as much a global homecoming as it was the annual bringing together of thousands of buyers and suppliers in the meeting, convention, and incentive travel market. The IMEX team headed up by Carina Bauer and Ray Bloom did a superhuman job of planning and executing an event that was in danger of being derailed by many “new world” challenges along the way…not the least being the uncertainty of border reopening’s and the certainty of Covid 19 protocols. To quote Carina, “ We were buoyed up knowing you were watching, waiting and willing it into life because it means so much to our global industry.”

As always, along with face to face business, IMEX America offered a wide range of education sessions, a new People & Planet Village with a fruit and vegetable juice bar serving healthy drinks made from imperfect and surplus fruits and vegetables, sustainability and diversity themed panels, one of the largest ever Tech Therapy Hubs and a daily wellbeing program.

However, as the industry’s very first international event to open once the U.S. travel ban was lifted (in the nick of time) on Nov. 8, regeneration and recovery were the main order of business. Roundtables were formed where planners and suppliers offered the wisdom they gained professionally and personally throughout the 18-month interruption of in-person meetings to become better able to thrive in the post-pandemic environment.

The ConventionPlanit.com team (Katherine and David Markham, JoAnn Hoffman, Maureen Pickell and Lynne Wellish) is still reeling from working an exhibition that gave approximately 8,500 participants the long awaited opportunity to do business face-to-face. The 2,220 exhibitors representing 200 countries along with 3,000+ buyers saw strong business produced for the exhibiting companies as a result of the 50,000 appointments. These business statistics are admirable but what was even more impressive (yet immeasurable) was the sheer joy and energy generated throughout the exhibition hall as business professionals came back together to pick up right where they left off two years ago.

Final note: The upbeat mood only increased over the three day event as the absolute scope and scale of this year’s show paid testimony to the resilience and adaptability of the global events industry. Thus IMEX America 2021 provided the “shot in the arm” needed by all that could never be duplicated by any vaccine known to modern medicine!

Mark your calendar and see you next year for IMEX America #11 – to be held October 11-13, 2022 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

CCH-Congress Center Hamburg

Since January 2017, the CCH has been undergoing comprehensive remodeling and modernization. Upgraded to the most advanced standards, and offering a wealth of flexible options, the new CCH will be an ideal venue for the varying requirements of today’s conventions and events when it reopens in 4th quarter of 2021. What can our customers expect:

• 12,000 sqm of exhibition space
• 12,000 sqm of foyer space – Hamburg’s largest venue for special events
• 12,000 seats in up to 50 halls and rooms
• CCH team with many years of congress and events know-how and solid expertise across a wide range of modern event formats
• new services + sustainable CCH catering concept

The new CCH will be able to accommodate several concurrent events practically without limitations.

Situated in the immediate vicinity of the city center, yet surrounded by lush vegetation – time and again our guests are enthusiastic about the privileged location of the CCH – Congress Center Hamburg. The local infrastructure available to our customers is exceptional: The CCH is located next to the Dammtor mainline train station and various public transit stations as well as numerous hotels, and Hamburg’s popular city center surrounding the Alster lakes are just a few hundred meters away.

With its economic power, a brilliant scientific community, with its impressive cityscape including the new HafenCity district, the Elbphilharmonie complex and the iconic Alster lakes, and with its rich cultural life, Hamburg is well known as a highly attractive city for events of all kinds.

Welcome to the new CCH, it will be one of Europe’s leading convention centers!

IMPORTANT: IMEX in Frankfurt date change: 31 May – 2 June 2022

Like everyone in the global meetings, events and incentive travel industry, we’re now well practiced at knowing when – and when not – to push ahead with a plan!

The recent rise in Omicron cases combined with our desire to give our business community certainty has led us to push IMEX in Frankfurt back by five weeks. 

Rather than 26 – 28 April 2022, our 20th anniversary show will now take place Tuesday 31 May to Thursday 2 June. Read our news announcement here (in English and German).

Thanks to Messe Frankfurt’s flexibility, these new dates will give our clients, their customers, suppliers and partners more leeway and time to prepare.

We’re announcing our decision today to give you the time and space to plan with confidence and to do so to your desired event standards.  

Rest assured, now that we’ve delivered a successful IMEX America for 8,500 people under carefully controlled health and safety conditions, we’re on your side and confident in our experience and ability to deliver a business-strong, safe, secure and enjoyable 20th anniversary IMEX in Frankfurt this May.  

We look forward to seeing you there! 

To your continued health and business regeneration in 2022,

IMEX Group Chairman, Ray Bloom
 CEO, Carina Bauer

Delta Has a Brilliant Strategy to Eliminate Fear and Get People Flying Again: Instagram

Delta, like all airlines, faces a very real, very big challenge. Right now, the vast majority of people aren’t that interested in climbing onto an airplane with 100 people they don’t know for a few hours. 

It turns out that traveling isn’t as bad as you think it would be. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t very different. For example, when I flew to New York City last month, I had no idea what to expect. Even as a fairly regular traveler during “normal” times, I had more anxiety about getting on a plane than I ever had before. 

That’s entirely natural considering that most people don’t like the “unknown.” We tend to avoid uncertainty as much as possible. Flying simply involves too many variables out of our control for most of us to take what seems like an unnecessary risk during a pandemic.  

But if you’re Delta, that’s bad news. In fact, it’s very expensive bad news. As a result, the company has made an extraordinary effort to keep passengers and crew members safe. 

In an interview with MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle at The Atlantic Festival, Delta’s CEO made clear the cost of COVID-19 to the airline’s business:

We’re flying today at a 60 percent load factor cap. So that means 40 percent of the seats we fly, we are deliberately not filling and not selling. That is not cheap. But the more important decision we make is we gotta put people over profits. And we know that instilling confidence in our customers, as well as our own employees, is job number one. That’s our priority right now.

I’d much rather people remember Delta as the company that took care of them through the pandemic… Customers are making a decisions about who Delta is by the values that we put out on display.

All of that is great, but the key here is “instilling confidence.” None of the rest of it matters if people are too anxious or afraid to do business with your company. To that end, Delta has a brilliant strategy for providing information for customers: Instagram. This morning, I was swiping through my feed, when I came across the following post.

If you tap on it, it reveals individual profiles for each of the different steps the company is taking to make the boarding process safer. If you select one of those profiles, they provide additional information. For example, if you tap on the Customer.Face.Masks profile, it explains:

For everyone’s safety, customers must wear a mask or face covering, and extra masks and Care Kits will be available if you need one. Those with underlying conditions who can’t wear a mask or face covering are required to complete a “Clearance-To-Fly” process before being permitted to travel.

Think about that for a moment. Delta took the time to create a dozen Instagram profiles so that it could better communicate with its followers. Sure, you can argue that Delta has plenty of resources and staff to do this. That’s definitely true. But the thought behind this makes it effective for two reasons.

The first is that it helps create expectations. In that example about face masks, it provides a potential traveler with all of the information they need to know about what is required of them. It even details the process if a passenger has an issue with wearing a mask. (As a side-note, Delta’s CEO says the company has already put 350 people on a no-fly list for refusing to wear masks.)

The second reason I think this is so effective is that it’s not just about creating expectations for someone who has already decided to travel. In my article describing my flight last month, I explained the steps the company is taking to do just that. In a statement, Delta told me, “Our community management team has been highly engaged and very responsive with customers to help increase confidence and reduce anxiety.”

This, on the other hand, is meant to reach people who haven’t decided to travel. It wasn’t on their website or in an email. It was on Instagram. Remember Instagram, that place where we all used to share images of the cool places we visited when we traveled? Delta clearly wants us to get back to that, which is why the fact that it ran this content there is so effective. 

Delta is meeting travelers who have a sense of wanderlust where they are, and is helping them better understand the effort the company is taking to keep everyone safe. That, in turn, helps to reduce the anxiety and uncertainty around travel.

None of that is easy, especially now. And, it doesn’t mean people are going to suddenly start buying plane tickets. This, however, is a creative and interactive way to create expectations. In fact, I think it’s brilliant. 

BY JASON ATEN, TECH COLUMNIST@JASONATEN INC.