As the seventh IMEX closed on May 28, record attendance figures were already being announced. Over 3,770 hosted buyers visited the global incentive travel, meetings, and events industry exhibition in Frankfurt from a total of 60 countries; as a part of an overall visitor attendance of 8,902. In all, the trade show saw 3,500 different companies exhibiting, representing a record 157 countries.

In total, long-haul buyers accounted for 15 percent of the hosted buyers at IMEX 2009. Their presence in greater numbers is the result of a pledge made by IMEX chairman Ray Bloom two years ago to build stronger links with long-haul markets and so deliver more qualified buyers for the benefit of IMEX exhibitors. In 2009 long-haul buyers attended from destinations including Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Egypt, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Syria, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates. The number of buyers from the fast-rising “BRICS” markets (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) was also up on previous years. In addition, 20.5 percent of buyers were from Germany, 12.5 percent from the UK, and 6.0 percent from the USA. The total number of German visitors again exceeded 4,300 (including both trade visitors and hosted buyers), proving the resilience and appetite of the all-important German outbound market.

Further figures reveal that 12.5 percent of buyers were once again association meeting planners, demonstrating that IMEX continues to hold special appeal for association members and managers due to its ability to satisfy the unique business requirements of this consistently strong sector.


A survey of 1,000 hosted buyers from a variety of global markets in the week following IMEX reveals that 96 percent consider the show “very or quite important for business” with 78 percent saying they “come to see what’s new.” More than 60 percent also declared they came to IMEX 2009 with “the specific aim of finding new suppliers.” The survey also shows that buyers spent an average of 12 hours on the show floor talking to exhibitors and visited an average of 25 stands as a result. Of those, almost half were suppliers they had not previously done business with. IMEX appointments were also up this year with over 50,000 individual and group appointments scheduled prior to the exhibition; plus almost 12,000 messages exchanged between buyers and suppliers via the new IMEX diary messaging system.

As IMEX chairman Ray Bloom stated, “The figures demonstrate the underlying and fundamental strength and optimism that lies at the heart of the global meetings market. And now that so much business is conducted through our online appointment and diary system, both buyers and suppliers have a clear measure of what they’re achieving and how efficiently they’re spending their time. The word that perhaps best summed up IMEX this year was ‘professional.’ All parts of the market were demonstrably serious about getting down to business and doing so with more focus, drive, and application thanks to the new tools we’ve put in place and the quality and simplicity of the business platform we provide.”

Testifying to IMEX’s ability to generate new business and return on investment, exhibitor, Chad Shiver, manager of the Japan Convention Bureau London Office, said, “Japan has been exhibiting at IMEX for several years and, with our focus being mainly on the association market, we are really pleased about the number of quality association buyers here. We did enough business in the first two hours of the show opening to make this year’s exhibition a success!”

Sandra Chipchase, CEO of the Melbourne Convention and Visitors Centre, echoed this with, “IMEX has again delivered the ideal sales platform. We were delighted with the results we achieved. The show is a must-do on our sales calendar.”

Commenting from a buyer’s perspective, Marc Timoteo, regional manager, HelmsBriscoe, USA said, “A key feature of IMEX is the enthusiasm of its exhibitors, making the buyer’s task of information-gathering both easy and pleasurable. Excessive showiness is noticeably and appropriately absent at this no-nonsense event. In researching for a budget of just under US$30 million, I found the atmosphere on the floor to be one of commitment and positivity with a keen focus on value for money.”

Another buyer, Charlene Bright, program coordinator of the World Federation of Public Health Associations, USA, summed up, “The great joy of IMEX is the possibilities – it would take years, not to mention huge costs – to benefit from the gathered knowledge, experience, and contacts that can be found here in just a couple of days.”

IMEX next takes place May 25-27, 2010.