IMEX triumph bodes well for strong year ahead


FRANKFURT, Germany – IMEX 2010 came to a close at Messe Frankfurt today with IMEX Group chairman, Ray Bloom, announcing that the award-winning show has once again set new records for hosted buyer numbers and countries represented.

“The past couple of years have challenged our industry on many fronts, not least economically, but I am delighted that both buyers and exhibitors have voted with their feet and turned up in greater numbers than ever to do business at IMEX this year,” said Bloom.

A record number of well over 3,800 hosted buyers from more than 60 markets attended this year’s show, among a visitor total of nearly 9,000. The mood among buyers and exhibitors was also positive and optimistic, with many reporting increases in levels of business and appointment numbers.

A typical example was Nik Racic, director of the Croatian Convention and Incentive Bureau, who said on day two of IMEX: “We have 25 exhibitors on the Croatian stand, and they are so far reporting 10-12 percent more business than last year.”

Buyers from emerging markets were particularly evident at IMEX, demonstrating a new wave of buying power and interest that many exhibitors were pleased to see. Buyers from Brazil, Russia, India, and China attended in larger numbers, with groups from Asia and the US also noticeably bigger than last year.

Changes to hosted buyer itineraries for 2010 ensured that more of them stayed at the show for three full days and spent longer periods on the show floor with exhibitors. However, Bloom explained that IMEX will still continue to focus on developing European markets to maximize reach to buyers in the UK and on the continent in addition to the long haul markets.

Bloom said: “We can see the results of these increases in our online appointment numbers. Individual and group appointments rose by 14 percent this year, which represents a total of 57,000 business appointments made between buyers and exhibitors before and during the show. The number of diary messages exchanged before and during IMEX increased by 9 percent to over 12,000.

“Figures are one thing but we all know that quality is what matters most to IMEX visitors and exhibitors. I am delighted, for example, that we are seeing an increasing number of smaller companies, destinations, agencies, CVBs, and the like investing in IMEX because they know full well the show will raise their profile and help them punch well above their weight. They are ambitious for their share of the market, and we are pleased to help them achieve it.

“It is also an excellent sign for the whole industry that many more hotel groups and cruise companies exhibited here this year. It is encouraging that many have come through the downturn and that they are feeling more optimistic about business in the year ahead.”

Tuesday’s IMEX Politicians Forum saw 28 politicians from Sweden, Greece, Austria, Canada, Croatia, Panama, Poland, Denmark, Scotland, and Australia, among others, spend a day debating how the industry can work better with its political representatives for each group’s mutual benefit.

“The meetings industry must continue to present itself consistently and communicate with one voice – and that voice must powerfully articulate its economic strengths and the long-term benefits the sector provides at both regional and national levels,” said Bloom.

He also talked about the launch of the first ever IMEX Challenge set to take place in Poland this September. “Thank you to everyone who came to our press conference about the IMEX Challenge Poland this week. Your goodwill and support is key to the success of this, our first-ever CSR project. As always, it is a case of IMEX living out its most important values and putting them into practical action. Come September, 24 people from across the industry will be toiling hard over several days to transform the garden and grounds of a foster home near Warsaw. We plan to run an IMEX Challenge every two years with the express intention of leaving behind a lasting legacy such as an educational or maintenance endowment, in addition to the work the group will carry out on the spot.”

The IMEX education program also proved extremely successful this year. It was the biggest program delivered to date, with 82 separate sessions, most of which were packed. The majority take place outside of show hours so as not to cut across core business.

“It is clear that people arrive at IMEX with a determination to get the most out of each day and that our education program has now become a considerable asset and an important part of the value that IMEX delivers,” said Bloom. The new CSR Drop-In Power Sessions had been especially well-received he remarked. He also described excellent levels of interest and support for the launch of IMEX America and the positive response to the partnerships announced during the show, particularly the support of Maritz Travel. Bloom also explained how the IMEX model will be developed in Las Vegas and be unique in the US market. Further initiatives will be launched over the coming months.

He concluded by announcing that over the next two years IMEX will be embarking on a comprehensive website development plan. “Our website has become the living heartbeat of the show: the engine that drives communication, information, and, most importantly, exhibitor appointments. We will be introducing a series of features designed to make it an even more powerful and user-friendly tool for year-round business, as well as stepping up and enriching our social media content,” stated Bloom.

Bloom summed up: “As usual at IMEX there’s no such thing as a quiet time and no such measure as good enough. We will always strive to develop the show further and to ensure our buyers and exhibitors all benefit from our efforts to push back the boundaries of what, where, and how a trade show can deliver better value and more business for them.”