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IMEX 2017 – Purposeful Meetings design triumphs in building more business and delivering a better event experience

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 Café, 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.”

Outstanding achievement at all levels of the global meetings industry celebrated at annual IMEX Gala Dinner

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.

The winner of this year’s DMAI Destination Leadership Award was a delighted Ana Maria Gallego, General Manager from the Medellin Convention & Visitors Bureau in Columbia. This award celebrates a destination marketing organisation (DMO) that demonstrates significant leadership and support of its community.

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 Lépine, 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 König, 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 König 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.”

 

IMEX Group launches ‘Talking Point’ strategy, adds extra focus and edge to education and content

‘Purposeful Meetings’ is the IMEX Talking Point for 2017

The IMEX Group is taking a new approach to its education and content strategies from 2017 by introducing an annual ‘talking point’.

The single, headline theme will allow the company to plan and respond more dynamically to rising trends and issues within the international meetings, events and incentive travel industry.

The new IMEX Talking Point is also a tangible reflection of the company’s new mission: “To unite and advance the meetings industry – doing everything we can to educate, innovate and help our clients make powerful connections with the right people.”

The 2017 IMEX Talking Point is ‘Purposeful Meetings: How to plan with deeper meaning, innovation and insight in mind’. It will feature explicitly through a range of new initiatives and implicitly within the programmes for both IMEX in Frankfurt and IMEX America 2017.

Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group explains the thinking behind the new move: “We’re committed to continually adding to the value of the learning and networking opportunities we provide through our trade shows. That means we have to keep ahead of industry trends and keep talking to all our visitors and exhibitors to discover their problems and needs and decide how we can help solve them.

Having an annual talking point allows us to listen and respond quicker and with more intention to those needs. Our chief focus is always going to be on bringing buyers and sellers together, face to face, in the most efficient and enjoyable way possible. But the IMEX Talking Points will inject more immediacy, stronger direction and a clearer distinction between each show year to year.

“That said, each annual talking point won’t dominate education content or industry debate. We’ll continue to deliver education and training under our 10 tracks as we have done for many years now.”

IMEX Talking Point 2017 – Purposeful Meetings
The IMEX team consulted widely with partners and researched industry trends extensively before identifying and choosing ‘Purposeful Meetings’ with the strapline ‘How to plan with deeper meaning, innovation and insight in mind’ as the talking point for 2017.

‘Purposeful Meetings’ reflects an imperative which meetings planners and event marketers are already being asked to address. Bauer sums it up as: “There is a shift towards the intentional planning and creation of ‘memorable moments’ not meetings, and ‘experiences’ not events. ‘Purposeful Meetings’ are engaging, inspiring and enjoyable with long-lasting positive outcomes.  They are successful and satisfying because they’ve been planned with specific outcomes and behaviours in mind, and they achieve these outcomes and behaviours by taking into account five key elements: Behavioural Science, Meeting Design, Health & Wellbeing, CSR Legacy and, of course, Technology.”

She explains: “Being a ‘purposeful’ planner (or a purposeful company or brand, for that matter) requires a change in thinking, a fresh approach plus new skills and knowledge. This is part of a bigger trend towards meeting planners and event marketers becoming much more strategic.”

New research and training certifications
To back up its commitment to ‘Purposeful Meetings’, the IMEX Group has already formed two partnerships with leading industry specialists. IMEX is partnering with PSAV, a leading global event technology services company, to support a major piece of research and industry white paper. Dr Amanda Cecil of Indiana University and Janet Sperstad of Madison College, USA, will release their first findings at IMEX in Frankfurt in May when Sperstad will present a keynote ahead of further developments planned for IMEX America.

The IMEX Group has also entered into a three-year agreement with EventCanvas.org Foundation which allows IMEX to offer Event Design Certification at both of its shows as part of its pre-show education programmes on Monday. The certification training will be offered free of charge to around 20 English and 20 German planners.

There is much more about the Purposeful Meetings Talking Point here and hand-picked resources that support Purposeful Meetings here.

The IMEX A to Z of 2017: 5 trends to watch as the year unfolds

2016 was no slouch of a year for the meetings industry nor, indeed, for the world at large. Dramatic forces were at play and many of us shared a sense that, even if we wanted to grasp the pace or nature of change taking place, we barely had the time or the head space to do so. 2016 was pivotal – and it felt like it.

 

Looking ahead to 2017, IMEX has identified five trends which, starting at A and ending at Z, are anything but simple or linear in the impact they’ll have on the meetings and events industry. In fact, we already predict that by 2018 ‘clarity’ will be the watchword of the moment.

 

AI & VR

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) used to be the future. Then, over the last two years, the first VR headsets started to appear at IMEX (Frankfurt and America), with destinations and venues as the ‘early adopters’. By the end of 2016, both technologies had made the final transition from fringe to freely available. The future had arrived.

Grip, the world’s first artificial intelligence (AI) event networking solution won the #IMEXpitch at IMEX America in Las Vegas. Elsewhere, at IBM’s World of Watson conference, AI was the ‘driver’ of a 3D-printed, driverless minibus that toured the show floor, giving passengers restaurant recommendations.

 

In the world of virtual reality, WorldViz, a behind-the-scenes VR company that’s been working on large-scale, enterprise solutions, launched its new platform for business communication. The project, codenamed “Skofield”, allows remote users to make cross-platform presentations in VR. 

 

Both AI and VR offer exciting new frontiers for suppliers in the meetings and events industry. Expect AI, and especially VR (not forgetting Augmented Reality), to capture both the imagination and the headlines in 2017.

 

Tech-connecting

One of the challenges of being at a large business event is the lingering sense that there are potential (and great) new contacts all around. But do we all identify, locate and then meet those new contacts? The rise of social media but, more importantly, of networking technologies and apps is fast changing our ability to satisfy that need. This urge to find and connect with ‘the right kind’ of each other at live events is what IMEX calls ‘finding your tribe.’

 

This trend is about both targeting and personalisation. Witness Loopd, winners of the 2015 IMEXpitch and (once again) Grip, the 2016 IMEXpitch winners. Equally, Zenvoy, partnered with IMEX to provide a pre, during and post-show ‘match-making’ service for buyers/attendees to meet or work with each other; a natural add-on to the show’s core appointment system, which enables buyers to meet with exhibitors.

 

Witness too the rise of snapchat and private messaging. Many of the big conversations at shows, conferences and other events are now happening online – and in private. Where social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram bring the immediate show experience – and audience feedback – to life in a dynamic way (especially with the advent of Facebook Live), Snapchat and private messaging services allow sub-groups and ‘tribes’ to find each other, talk and make plans in private.

 

As many of these tech-connecting services race to become the favourite, go-to brand of the moment, expect to see some triumph and scale up to great acclaim, while others simply don’t – or can’t – keep pace.

 

Disruption

‘Are PCOs and hotels prepared to manage the increasing disruption and challenges in accommodation services for international meetings?’ was the title of a hot-topic discussion at ICCA’s recent Conference in Kuching, Malaysia.

 

‘Increasing disruption’ aptly sums up the prevalence of disruptive forces not only in the meetings and events industry but also all around us. The ICCA discussion focussed on the impact of booking portals and event scammers with fake websites but Airbnb has similar potential to disrupt the traditional meetings space market.

 

‘Disruption’ could easily lay claim to being THE word of 2016.  Dr Kaihan Krippendorff’s PCMA Business School session at IMEX in Frankfurt – ‘The Outthinker Playbook – Devising Disruptive Strategies’ drew a large and eager audience, as did Jay Samit’s presentation ‘Disrupt You!’ at IMEX America 2016.

 

‘Disruption’ also describes the impact of unexpected political results in 2016 – namely Brexit and the U.S. Presidential election. Even though the fallout has so far been short-term, most organisations (in all industries worldwide) are on alert for the long-term consequences. Harking back to a favoured phrase from five or six years ago, 2017 heralds a sense that ‘disruption’ is set to be the ‘new normal’. 

 

Unsubscribing
Last year at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference, Professor Sir Cary Cooper said a compulsion to deal with messages caused UK employees to become less productive than many of their international counterparts.
“For people to be working at night, weekends and holiday on emails is not good for the health of our country,” he told the BBC. “We need to ban emails [sent and received] within the same building,” he said, advocating instead for face-to-face meetings and phone calls.

 

Independent research by Atos Origin highlighted that the average employee spends 40% of their working week dealing with internal emails which add no value to the business.

 

Add to that newsletters, social media notifications and e-shots and it’s clear to see why many people are eager to seize back their time.  In effect, this trend is a flight towards more authentic and meaningful productivity.

Expect unsubscribes and opt-outs to rise as individuals reclaim their inboxes, their sanity and their time.

In turn, the purposeful creation and appreciation of ‘no-thing’ time (using planning approaches such as White Space) will win more and more fans in 2017.

 

Zs

Workplace demographic shifts really gathered pace in 2016, with Generation Z now heading over the horizon.  By the end of this decade Zs will account for around 20 per cent of the work force.

 

Born in the late 1990s onwards, Zs were the first to grow up with the Internet and portable technology at their fingertips, virtually from birth! According to various research reports, compared with those born in the 15 or so years before them – Generation Y, the Millennials – they are distinctly different (hence their disparaging, alternative label, ‘Generation Snowflake’…because every little snowflake is unique).

 

From a communications and meetings perspective, Zs are tech-intuitive, tech-based multi-taskers and good at online collaboration but tend to have weaker face-to-face and social skills, are liable to be distracted easily and have a short attention span.

 

According to the 2015 Way to Work survey by Adecco Staffing USA, as employees Zs want financial stability (a result of living through recession and the burden of student debt), a dream job, entrepreneurial opportunities, a flexible work-life balance, regular face-to-face mentoring and plenty of feedback from the boss. In pursuit of this they’re likely to job-hop in their early years.

 

As an event or meetings audience Zs are set to place strong, new demands on planners, venues and brands. Whether they prove to be high value or just high maintenance, 2017 should reveal all.

 

The IMEX team is now inviting speakers and topic experts to submit session proposals for the professional education programme at IMEX in Frankfurt 2017. The sessions, which can be delivered in English or German, should tie in with one of the show’s 10 tracks, ‘Trends and Research’ being one of them. The others are: Business skills, Diversity, Health and wellbeing, Personal development, Technology, Creative learning, General education, Marketing/social media and Sustainability. In addition, the team is particularly interested in receiving sessions on event security, contracting and negotiation. Closing deadline 16 January 2017.

 

Full details at www.imex-frankfurt.com/events/education/speaker-submissions