IMEX invites conference and convention centers to go wild


New convention and conference centers in emerging destinations are being invited to apply for the 2009 IMEX Wild Card Program for the first time. The amendment to Wild Card rules has been motivated by findings from the IMEX Politicians’ Forum, which suggest that newly-built convention or conference centers in fledgling destinations often suffer from lack of local political support and understanding. By opening the scheme to include new venues (up to three years old), as well as the destinations in their own right, IMEX hopes to give Wild Card winners a valuable global endorsement which can be used to reinforce prominence, funding and goodwill locally.

The IMEX Wild Card Program offers a high-profile opportunity for emerging destinations and new convention centers in such destinations to learn about the global meetings market and to hone their offering and market positioning in front of a relevant and active worldwide audience of buyers. It also provides a forum for winners to build important contacts and potential partnerships for the future.

IMEX will be offering four free Wild Card places at its 2009 trade show, which takes place from May 26-28 in Messe Frankfurt. Each winner will receive a place in the Wild Card “Look to the Future” Pavilion, in addition to a valuable support package that includes year-round marketing and sales advice, plus subsidized air travel and accommodation.

Said Dale Hudson, IMEX projects manager, “This year IMEX welcomed over 3,500 exhibiting companies from 150 countries plus 3,600 hosted buyers from 58 world markets, among a total of 8,700 visitors. For Wild Card Winners this translates into an exceptional opportunity to meet interested buyers, gain feedback and learn from and share ideas with established exhibitors. The Wild Card Program is genuinely unique in the industry and reflects our ongoing pledge to support meetings industry growth, diversity and innovation.”

Application forms to win a Wild Card place can be found online at . Applicants are not permitted to have exhibited at a major meetings or incentive travel trade fair before. They also have to demonstrate that they have the commitment and capacity to handle new business, and that their destination has the infrastructure to support the demands of the meetings and incentive travel market.

Recent winners of IMEX Wild Card places have included Armenia, Addis Ababa, City of Praia in the Cape Verde Islands and Transylvania. Speaking about the benefits of becoming a Wild Card winner, Tigran Ghahramanyan, president of Armenian Event, said, “As a new company in the meetings market, we were able to represent our destination to the world market at IMEX. Thanks to Wild Card we made very useful contacts that gave us the chance to develop Armenia as a new destination. We believe Wild Card is a great idea and have advertised our win widely to all our partners.”

The closing deadline for Wild Card 2009 entries is November 14, 2008.