After an enforced break of three years due to the pandemic, this IMEX show was always going to feel special. The question was, how special? Feedback from exhibitors and buyers made that abundantly clear. Day one saw Messe Frankfurt land two unexpected contracts, an endorsement of the team’s decision to exhibit on their own stand for the first time in 20 years and to promote their venue more assertively.
Daniel Reid, Assistant VP of Global Sales Europe for Shangri-La Group was delighted with the quality of business leads: “For example, we had six really strong enquiries from big brands for large groups. They include Google, Herbalife and a big telecoms company. Those enquiries span London, Abu Dhabi, Tokyo and Dubai. I’d sum it up as serious business from serious buyers,” he said.
Christine Spitzenberg, Senior Sales Manager at Messe Frankfurt who were exhibiting on their own stand for the first time, said: “This is my 17th IMEX, and the best IMEX in years. My first appointment on Tuesday was a direct enquiry with a new client for a medical congress for 5,500 people with 15,000 sqm of exhibition space for 2028 or 2030.”
Similarly positive feedback came from Lourdes Bizarro, Meetings & Bids Manager, Los Cabos Tourism Board: “This is our first IMEX and it’s been fantastic to meet planners and to educate them on Los Cabos because our destination isn’t famous for business events. We’ve had more than 180 appointments and pre-IMEX we established alliances with MPI and Site to run events with them to help raise our profile.”
Throughout the IMEX education programme, many presentations focused on future trends, current behaviours and changes to ‘industry norms’. Shorter sales cycles; an emphasis on sustainability; niche, highly targeted events plus shorter meetings and events are all forecasted, and desired by attendees. Wellness is now front and centre, with a change in the story: an end-to-end duty of care to attendees, including consideration for their mental health, rather than a traditional focus on smoothies for breakfast or morning yoga, although both are expected too.
A change in the story
Corporate planners attending Exclusively Corporate on Monday 31 May, confirmed that, although some destinations are offering financial incentives of up to 100 Euros per delegate to attract events, buyers’ current top priority is how well that destination has managed Covid. Many agreed that financial incentives are helpful (if ethics policies allow) but proof of consistent and ongoing health management is more important, coupled with strong partnership values.
IMEX saw an excellent attendance of around 9000 in the halls this week, including close to 3000 buyers, of which the majority were hosted. Exhibiting companies numbered 2300.
Show experience – unexpected touches good for the soul
Over in Hall 9, IMEX’s focus on an improved show experience was impossible to miss, leaving many attendees gasping ‘wow’ as they entered the hall. A feast for the eyes with its colourful rainbow road, grassy Central Park surrounded by cabin-style food trucks, trees and abundant live plants, Hall 9 expressed the IMEX team’s commitment to biophilia (our innate human affinity with the natural world). The design team at suppliers, Fair Services, together with IMEX’s in-house design studio succeeded in making a huge hall feel homely, comforting, accessible and ‘good for the soul.’ Attendees commented on the level of investment and care that had gone into crafting this special space, which included three branded education theatres, Forest, Ocean and Canyon; the hosted buyer lounge; food court, private ‘nook’ pods, Media Zone and more. For the first time, MPI and ICCA also offered education and a series of hot-topic meetups in Hall 9.
To find out more about IMEX in Frankfurt, visit https://www.imex-frankfurt.com/.