IMEX 2009 has set the stage for visitors and exhibitors to build relationships and conduct increased levels of business when the show opens on May 26 at Messe Frankfurt.
Visitors will find an exciting mix of new and established exhibitors showcasing world-class opportunities for the meetings industry. With over 3,500 exhibitors representing 150 countries and even more business opportunities than previous years, there are more reasons than ever this year for buyers to visit and spend more time at IMEX 2009.
More qualified buyers from influential long-haul markets including Asia, the US, Australia, Russia, Chile, Dubai, Europe, the UAE, and South Africa are booked to visit the show and spend more time with exhibitors in the hall. IMEX has refined its long-haul program in order to increase the length of time that buyers spend on the exhibition floor meeting suppliers. A new combination of familiarization trips and two- to four-night stays for long-haul buyers extends their potential business transaction time by up to 25 percent.
IMEX organizers, Regent Exhibitions, have also focused on improving a number of the key pre- and post-show functions on its website. These refinements will particularly help buyers to manage their online diaries and appointment schedules easily and more quickly. As a result they will be able to communicate instantly with exhibitors about planned appointments and exchange working documents, requests for proposals, and other relevant information.
Exhibitor space increases
Visitors can also expect to see many exhibitors on larger stands this year. Substantial space increases have been confirmed by a number of major suppliers and destinations including the Canary Islands, Croatia, the Czech Tourist Authority, Discovery Travel Jordan, Korea and Seoul, Macau, Norway, and the Romanian Tourism Office. German hospitality management company, Golden Tulip, together with Accor Hotels and Prestige Hotels of the World are among others who have also increased space compared to last year.
German exhibitors with a larger presence include Arkona, Nürburgring Circuit, Ungerboeck Systems International, and BMW Welt. From other markets Concorde Hotels, Team Andaluces (Spain), Luxembourg Congres, Serbia, and Japan have also increased stand space for 2009 in their efforts to attract more visitors and added business.
Existing and new visitors to IMEX will also have the opportunity to meet new exhibitors from a variety of global markets and sectors. They include: Lebanon; Kenya; ITC Welcom Group, India; Tiara Hotels; Certain, USA; El Salvador; Welcome Swiss; Organosis Event Management; Global Dynamix; and Top Atlantico DMC, Portugal. 2008 Wild Card winners, Armenian Event, return to IMEX as an independent exhibitor following a successful launch to the meetings industry last year. Valencia Convention Bureau and TA DMC will both be taking their own stands for the first time.
Those visitors keen to research the latest emerging destinations are advised to seek out the IMEX Wild Card Pavilion. Here The Cook Islands; Novi Sad – Vojvodina, Serbia; Tianjin Economic – Technological Development Area (TEDA), China and the Masurian Conference Centre, Poland, will all be promoting themselves to the international meetings market for the first time.
Buyers and visitors with an interest in planning events in the US will see good representation from US exhibitors who continue to extend their marketing activities within Europe. As a result, Texas; the Philadelphia Convention Bureau; New York City; and New World Travel, Inc. have all increased space. Meanwhile, Anchorage CVB will be exhibiting for the first time and Greater Boston CVB makes a welcome return to IMEX 2009.
Amongst the hundreds of US buyers attending IMEX 2009 will be those traveling with new buyer groups including Flytours American Express, Global Cynergies, Steigenberger, Rezidor, and Maritim Hotels. US buyers will extend their stay in Frankfurt by one night giving them the opportunity to attend IMEX for 3 full exhibition days.
German market focus
German visitors will again form a significant proportion of those doing business at IMEX. Last year, a number of highly-targeted, German-marketing campaigns resulted in thousands of IMEX visitors attending from the resilient German market. In 2009, new partnerships with Germany’s Association of the Scientific Medical Societies (AWMF) and Vok Dams, the country’s leading live events marketing agency, are set to generate even more buyers, while carefully-tailored educational content and a total of 18 German seminars – the largest number yet – will address the specific issues facing German buyers, the majority of which (15) have been developed and will be delivered by IMEX strategic partners, the German Convention Bureau (GCB), under the new brand ‘GCB Seminartage.’
12% of visitors are association buyers
For the 12% of buyers representing professional associations, IMEX has secured an internationally-renowned keynote speaker. Its Association Day program on May 25 will highlight insight from Elliott Masie, a globally-recognized futurist, analyst, researcher, and humorist. He heads up The MASIE Center Think Tank and also leads the Learning Consortium, a coalition of 240 Fortune 500 companies.
In addition, ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) and the Center for Association Leadership will be offering association visitors a new morning seminar on the May 27. This session extends the educational opportunities exclusively available to association professionals at IMEX.
Association Day, which is organized with the support of seven of the world’s leading international associations including lead organisation, ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association), has become a pre-eminent annual networking and educational event for association executives. The end of day Association Evening regularly attracts an audience in excess of 800 buyers, exhibitors, and recognized suppliers who take advantage of the exclusive networking opportunity before the show has opened.
New directions for New Vision
IMEX’s New Vision program is designed to offer visitors added value over and above the business appeal of its 3,500 exhibiting companies.
New this year, the IMEX-MPI Future Leaders Program, which has grown to 12 annual forums worldwide, will see students competing in a “University Challenge” designed to test their presentation skills, as well as their understanding of meetings industry practices. The eventual winner will receive the 2009 MPI Foundation Youth Award, which is presented at the IMEX Gala Dinner. New Future Leader Forums launching in 2009 include Abu Dhabi, where two new sessions are planned, Costa Rica, and Serbia.
Commenting on the importance of the Future Leaders Program within the total IMEX offering, chairman Ray Bloom, said, “The industry needs to work together in the “war on talent” and recognize that building a new generation of meetings industry professionals with the right mix of skills and knowledge is an ongoing task and one that we all need to commit to. IMEX is delighted to take a strong lead on this; we see it as part of our corporate social responsibility commitment and outreach.”
The IMEX Women’s Forum, Cross-Cultural training, and the Politicians’ Forum will continue again in 2009 and regularly attracts strong visitor numbers. The Politicians’ Forum has grown significantly in influence over the past three years in particular. Its reputation for serious debate combined with considered follow-up means the forum’s reputation is spreading far beyond its original European focus. Case studies also prove that destinations that have invited their local political representatives along to the forum have, as a result, benefited from support to win bids or increased funding.
IMEX Awards – and green growth
Green-minded visitors and buyers will have plenty of opportunities to learn more about how to build environmental programs or measures into their business activities at IMEX 2009.
For the first time, IMEX will be offering “green” workshops on its Corporate Responsibility Stand. Tamara Kennedy, executive director of the Green Meeting Industry Council, and Fiona Pelham, founding member of Positive Impact, will present twice-daily sessions designed to help visitors decide how to become green in short, simple steps.
The IMEX Green Awards – the only such awards for the industry – include a Green Meetings, Green Supplier, Green Exhibitor, and Commitment to the Community Award and all showcase and celebrate a positive approach to environmental improvement and industry-best practice.
IMEX’s own environmental commitment was reflected last year in a reduction of total waste of 20 percent compared to 2007. This included recycling 40 tons of paper and 32 tons of cardboard. IMEX continues with its use of hydroelectric power for 2009, when this will be offered to exhibitors for the first time. Organizers will use more than 21,000 recyclable, compostable, plastic badges, anti-idling policies on courtesy buses, and locally-sourced food and other supplies wherever possible. Other green innovations for 2009 include the introduction of plant silk for all badge lanyards. Plant silk is a totally organic material, manufactured from the waste stems of grain crops.
IMEX’s expansive education program has also been extended for the benefit of visitors this year. The theme of “innovation” will underpin its delivery over four days. Interactive workshops on the Professional Development and Innovation Pavilion will combine with dedicated seminars to explore the value and purpose of innovation across the industry. A variety of presentations will examine issues such as the driving forces rapidly shaping the industry’s future, the real meaning of creativity, fresh approaches to meeting organization, and how to unleash and encourage innovation when budgets are tight.
IMEX will also launch a new educational concept – Meetings Under the Microscope – which will offer visitors a fast-track qualification in understanding the newest and often scientific techniques that can now be employed in meetings planning, environment, psychology, and marketing. Three leading speakers will combine their knowledge to deliver this new initiative.
Summing up IMEX’s continued strong appeal to visitors, chairman Ray Bloom said, “IMEX’s reputation is firmly built on the quality and quantity of active buyers and visitors we attract year after year. The reason they continue to come in such numbers – and from close to 100 world markets – is that the format, the location and the venue have been designed precisely around their business needs. And that applies this year more than any other. When combined with a world-beating number and variety of exhibiting companies plus an extremely high-buyer turnout, IMEX becomes an unmissable business event.”
IMEX 2009 will take place on May 26-28. For further information see www.imex-frankfurt.com .