Designed for an industry that never stops, IMEX America 2018 was brimming with opportunity and learning to the last.
Buyers and exhibitors swapped excitement
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Hosted buyers found the largest ever IMEX a great opportunity to see and meet with people, places and services from around the world.
“This is a terrific place to find out what’s new in the industry because everyone is here and it’s easy to meet, face-to-face under one roof,” said Kristin Gibson, SVP at Spargo. “I’m looking for new destinations and I’ve found them. Plus, there’s a great energy coming from the attendees – it’s inspiring.”
Bryan Aroz of HelmsBriscoe India added: “I’ve come to meet existing partners and look at what’s new – particularly technology, destinations and hotels. I’ve found some impressive things to consider as well as a new service – air charters. The choice and quality of exhibitors here is the best ever.”
From the exhibitors’ point of view the show has also been a success.
Hosted buyers on the show floor
“In addition to connecting with many US buyers in Vegas, we also saw a big increase in interest from international buyers wanting to meet with us from China, Dubai, Australia, Israel and more,” said Mark Spivey, Director of International Sales at Maritim Hotels.
Poland also punctuated this point. “We’ve spoken to many good US buyers especially for incentive travel to Poland, but at the same time we also had interest from an association buyer from Hungary who is looking for a destination for a 1,500 people event in 2023. We have to be here at IMEX America.”
Busy brains rocked on
Education also continued to be popular even as the show readied to wrap.
C2 delivered the final keynote of the week “Emotions and Technology – An exploration of Audience Connection,” featuring Jessica Gibbons, executive director of global partnerships C2, and Adekambi Laleye in key accounts with klik by PixMob. They explained how new technologies (such as smart wearables) and fresh formats can be used in brave ways to create attendee surprise, personalization and connection. The goal, they emphasized, is to put attendees at the center of any meetings experience and integrate technology purposefully to add value around learning or networking – instead of merely adding cool tech for cool tech’s sake.
C2 also connected this thread of nurturing valuable attendee journeys in their Cloud Lab on Thursday (and throughout the IMEX Week) on session topics like Crafting a Five-Star Experience and Cross Pollinating Your Way to Event Success. An interesting format and design, the Cloud Lab invited learners to enter an inflatable igloo filled with gentle fog and soft white light. The idea is to transport people from the outside world to clear their minds and heighten learning and person-to-person connections.
Jessica Gibbons, C2 and Adekambi Laleye
And it works, one participant leaving a Cloud Lab session was heard saying that it “opened my mind to new possibilities and got bigger thinking flowing.”
Knowledge-seekers also had their feet on “terra firma” Thursday in an eye-opening session, “Cybersecurity Threats – Are You Prepared,” hosted by The Events Industry Counsel (EIC.) Here they revealed that research with meetings industry members shows that while 82% believe that a data security breach would have an adverse effect on their meetings and brands, only 27% actually have data security policies and plans in place. Not to panic though, they also shared how meeting planners and hosts can be more aware and avoid risks. For example, be wary of USB swapping as sensitive registrant or company information could get into the wrong hands, and don’t put any “confidential” stats or information on slides, especially during in-house meetings, as they could get easily posted on social media. They also urged using password manager tools that encrypt personal and business passwords so they can’t get hacked — especially when on a public network.
Wrapping on a high note
Commenting on the energy and experiences at IMEX America 2018, Carina Bauer the CEO of IMEX said, “It’s been a great week of business and a great week of trying and learning new things. People from North America and all over the world have shared opportunities, smiles and connections. We’ve walked with giant puppets, talked to robots, synched-up in campfires and keynotes, and taken VR trips. Our industry has once again showed its vibrant personality and insatiable appetite for growth and innovation.”