In a year when the IMEX Group set out to live and breathe its 2017 Talking Point – Purposeful Meetings – exhibitor and buyer feedback suggests the new, experiential approach to IMEX in Frankfurt paid off.
From the launch of EduMonday on 15 May to the creation and expansion of registration, wellbeing, education and food services into Hall 9, this year’s IMEX was defined by positive and highly visual transformations with innovation radiating throughout the show.
Close to 9000 hosted buyers and visitors flocked to IMEX in Frankfurt for four days of focused business, education, connection and community. Total appointments between buyers and the show’s 3500 exhibitors rose to 68,500.
Following a year of planned improvements to the appointment system, focused on educating buyers about the value of giving exhibitors mini RFPs (‘appointment profiles’) in advance, 74 per cent of all buyer/exhibitor appointments were based on an appointment profile, an increase of 42 per cent.
Ray Bloom, Chairman of the IMEX Group, commented: “The strong level of business conducted here this week is evidence of the wholesale resilience and positive outlook of the market in what are challenging times all over the globe.”
From Monday to Thursday there was innovation at every turn. The introduction of EduMonday added event technology, event design certification and business masterclasses to the options available to every single participant. Along with PCMA Business School, Association Day, Exclusively Corporate and ICCA mid-year meetings, a total of 1500 people took part in the newly integrated programme.
“Our intention was to create a truly democratic pre-show education event – with something for everyone regardless of whether they speak German or English or come as an exhibitor, hosted buyer or visitor,” said IMEX Chairman, Ray Bloom. “This unilateral approach has gone down really well, with several people saying they plan to send their whole teams to the show a day earlier next year to take advantage of EduMonday. The superb feedback from participants indicates this is a strong formula for the future.”
The many additions and innovations in Hall 9 also made a huge impact; another of IMEX’s efforts to give hosted buyers, visitors and exhibitors a higher quality of service and care, which included a lot more space to relax and recharge. Once again, the feedback was positive with appreciation of the strong visual links between Halls 8 and 9 and the expanded show being on one level generating a much stronger sense of community and a cohesive experience.
The new food court populated by indoor food trucks, the bigger, more open Media Caf�, the two Be Well Lounge inflatable domes, plus other inflatable meeting rooms and the creation of ‘white space’ areas generated a chilled-out atmosphere. IMEX’s wellness programme also went down well with attendees, many of whom declared it genuinely refreshed them, providing new energy and an appetite for more business.
The new EventTech Academy in Hall 9, the new TechTours on the show floor, the new IMEX App and the experiment of adding Frank, a Chatbot on the website are further evidence of IMEX evolving its technology offerings ‘on-purpose’.
The keynote speeches by Professor Greg Clark at both the Opening Ceremony and Politicians Forum were totally engaging and inspiring, contributing important ideas about the co-operation opportunities between cities and the meeting industry. Janet Sperstad’s keynote about Purposeful Meetings also provided fascinating first insights into her research prior to the launch of an industry white paper at IMEX America.
Looking toward the future and the industry’s next generation, the IMEX Education team put 20 young professionals through a ‘Rising Professionals Day’ using the Event Design Canvas model to create the conference of the future.
Making new and renewing connections was, as always, an important aspect as IMEX brought the industry together, not only at SITE Nite Europe, Association Evening, CIM-Clubbing and the IMEX Gala Dinner but also at many association meetings co-located at the show this week.
Reflecting on this year’s event, Ray Bloom said: “This has been our largest and most innovative show ever, with new ideas, creativity and new uses of technology everywhere. Our theme is Purposeful Meetings and there was a tremendous sense of purpose about everyone here. There is also tremendous energy and commitment. Thinking of the future and the legacy of our industry, it is heartening to see.”