Meetings industry professionals from across the world gathered together to celebrate and honour a variety of achievements last night at the 15th annual IMEX Gala Dinner held at the prestigious Alte Oper, a concert hall and former opera house in Frankfurt.

The awards were: The MPI Student Scholarship Award; DMAI Destination Leadership Award; IAEE International Excellence Award; IAPCO Driving Excellence Innovation Award; PCMA Global Meetings Executive of the Year Award; SITE Master Motivator Award; IMEX-GMIC Innovation in Sustainability Award; Four regional IMEX Academy Awards and the JMIC Unity Award.

Rising star Kazzandra Grove from South Africa was presented with MPI Student Scholarship Award. The award, which celebrates and supports the next generation of meeting planners, is part of the IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum International University Challenge. At the final of the Challenge, held at IMEX in Frankfurt, the regional winners competed for the grand prize, sponsored by the MPI Foundation and Marriott International. Kazzandra Grove from North West University in Mahikeng, South Africa, wowed judges with her proposal: aMAZEng Brain Conference.

Tarsus Group collected the IAEE International Excellence Award in recognition of the team’s exceptional work in creating, launching and managing an international event in the exhibitions and events industry on an international scale. Tarsus Group is an international media company with a portfolio of exhibitions, conferences, publications and online media across the Americas, Europe, Asia and Middle East.

Elizabeth Winter of African Agenda was the winner of the IAPCO Driving Excellence Innovation Award. The IAPCO Innovation Award commends the most creative and high achieving young member of staff of an IAPCO member company. Corne Koch of Wesgro Convention Bureau was delighted to accept the award on Elizabeth’s behalf, which was presented by Jan Tonkin, IAPCO President. Elizabeth’s award winning innovation was a “standing discussion”, a session, which took participants out of their comfort zones and brought them together to share ideas in a lively, structured context.

The PCMA Global Meetings Executive of the Year Award honours a business events strategist who has demonstrated a vision, commitment and passion for the advancement and education of the global meetings industry. It was awarded to Roberta Kravitz, Executive Director of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM), the leading non-profit organisation that provides an international forum for education, information and research in magnetic resonance for radiographers and technologists throughout the world.

Marketing, PR & Social Media expert Patrick Patridge was the proud recipient of the SITE Master Motivator Award 2017. This Award is presented to a person who holds the highest standard of excellence in creating or executing motivational events.

A new award for this year – the IMEX-GMIC Innovation in Sustainability Award – has been designed to celebrate event professionals who are driving sustainability forward through innovation, collaboration and idea sharing. This new award recognises not only the meeting or project owner, but also other stakeholders such as the planner, the venue and other key suppliers. Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group was the inaugural winner in recognition of its Blu Planet water conservation project.

Inge Huijbrechts, Global Vice President Responsible Business at Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, explains: “Connecting towel reuse in Radisson Blu Hotels with supplying safe drinking water in water scarce areas is a key innovation, especially important because of the global water scarcity crisis and because it makes towel reuse meaningful to our guests. Our partner Just a Drop makes a real difference to people’s lives in local communities. Together we have impacted over 9,000 people.”

The IMEX Academy Awards represent the very best in the global meetings and incentive travel industry, honouring four outstanding individuals each year. This year’s roll-call recognised:

  • Academy – Europe: Olivier Lapine, General Manager at Biarritz Tourisme
  • Academy – The Americas: Diane DiMaggio, Business Development Director at Northstar Travel Media
  • Academy – Asia Pacific: Jeannie Lim, Executive Director at Singapore Tourism Board
  • Academy – Africa Middle East: Karim El Minabawy, President of Egypt-based Emeco Travel

Finally, a very surprised and delighted Ray Bloom was crowned winner of this year’s JMIC Unity Award. The award was presented to the IMEX Group Chairman by Joachim Konig, President of JMIC and Director of the Hannover Congress Centrum, in recognition of Ray’s significant contribution to the advancement of the meetings industry.

Joachim Konig explains: “Ray’s credentials are second to none – as founder and developer of a leading show in our sector, he has worked consistently over many years to address some of the most important issues by facilitating and supporting industry action. Throughout all of this, he has focused on supporting and encouraging others in their endeavours, providing the resources needed to do so. In this respect, Ray particularly exemplifies the purpose of the 2017 Unity Award and we are delighted and honoured to present it to him.”

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