IMEX in Frankfurt opened earlier this week in Hall 8 of Messe Frankfurt by announcing a rise in new exhibitor numbers together with some significant stand size increases, plus a marked upswing in the number of pre-show appointments made between exhibitors and buyers.
Over 30 new and returning stands are taking part in IMEX this year, including: Chile; Gibraltar; Memphis; Montenegro; and Ukraine. New hotel exhibitors include Thistle & Guoman Hotels, Kerzner International, Orient Express Hotels, Prestige Hotels and Titanic Resorts & Hotels. New airline exhibitors for 2013 include Avianca Airlines, oneworld Airline Alliance and Omni Air International. DoubleDutch, Visimmo 3D, GenieMobile and Zenvoy all feature among the largest number yet of technology exhibitors.
Appetite for stand space
Over 15% of existing IMEX exhibitors opted to increase the size of their stands for IMEX 2013 with over a third increasing space by 30% or more. Some of the larger increases have come from Bahrain, the Estonian Convention Bureau, Germany, Morocco, Poland, Puerto Rico, Panama, Qatar and New Zealand. US exhibitors have also demonstrated an appetite for more space with San Francisco, Texas, Visit Florida and Washington all increasing their share.
Among the new groups taking part in the anticipated 4000-strong IMEX hosted buyer programme for 2013 are: Accor USA and Canada; Body & Soul South Africa; Carlson Rezidor Asia; IHG India; Moevenpick Korea and UAE and Kerzner International. Marriott Hotels are bringing three new groups of buyers - from St Petersburg, Japan and a first-time group from Kazakhstan.
Opening ceremony emphasised political advocacy
At the IMEX Opening Ceremony earlier today, the continued importance of informed political advocacy was emphasised by IMEX Group Chairman, Ray Bloom; a theme that was picked up in remarks by Philippe Fournier, President of JMIC. Speaking to a packed audience, including government ministers and other political representatives set to attend the day’s Politicians Forum, Fournier made the point: “It has always been clear that ours is an industry that strongly and quickly reflects the economic conditions around us. But over the past few years we have come to realise we need to spend more time and attention looking at the other side of this relationship - which is the fact that the strength and effectiveness of the meetings industry actually shapes the state of the economy over the long term.”
New corporate buyer event
Several new initiatives, both on the trade show floor and across the city, have been added to IMEX this year. Yesterday (Monday May 20th) saw the launch of a new event for corporate buyers, Exclusively Corporate @IMEX, which welcomed over 70 buyers from the corporate sector for a day of education, networking and facilitated round tables. The new event was hosted by the Villa Kennedy. The general session was also webcast live, another first for IMEX, which was enabled by sponsorship from London & Partners (formerly Visit London).
New CSR activity – Lunch with ‘Lichtblick’
Elsewhere in Frankfurt yesterday, IMEX showed its continuing commitment to CSR in the local community by organising for a group of IMEX delegates to help prepare and cook lunch for the homeless people living under the care of Sister Sigrid’s Lichtblick hostel. The lunch was sponsored by the Sheraton Frankfurt Congress Hotel, who provided all of the ingredients as well as one of their leading chefs to guide the team’s preparations and final results. IMEX intends to extend its CSR programme further next year with other opportunities for hands-on involvement in local community projects.
Education programme tops 150
The scale of the IMEX education programme has been increased again for 2013. Over 150 seminars, workshops, lightening learning labs (specifically for exhibitors) and informal, small-group ‘campfires’ will be taking place at various locations including the IMEX-CIC Inspiration Centre (sponsored by Poland), the App Bar, the Sustainability Hub and the Tech Tap.
New this year - and designed to address very specific issues currently facing the Germany meetings and events market - is a Compliance Clinic, powered by Veranstaltungsplaner.de (the Association of German Event Organisers). The German language Clinic will offer a wealth of advice on compliance issues, best practice and likely future developments. The Video Corner delivered by Abbit and IMR, and sponsored by London & Partners, has also been extended to allow the filmed interviews with industry experts to be staged and enjoyed by a live audience.
In response to visitor feedback, the 2013 show also sees the launch of a new Networking Hub on the show floor. This allows for both scheduled and unscheduled networking activities, some with a formal educational tone and others focussed on fun ice-breaker sessions. The hub will also be home to a variety of guided wellbeing sessions designed to keep mind and body alert during the three-day trade show.
Other useful innovations for 2013 include a free solar energy mobile phone charging station, sponsored by Serbia; a new Research Pod to provide a single location for all the latest industry research and trends reports, and the introduction of ‘playtime’ on the App Bar where visitors will be able to trial a range of industry apps with hands-on guidance from experts.
New value for German visitors
German visitors also benefit from a reworked German language education programme, provided by the German Convention Bureau working together with speaker bureau, Speakers Excellence. Each day will be themed to allow visitors to plan their education around specific skill and knowledge gaps. All of today’s (Tuesday’s) education addresses the issue of compliance; tomorrow (Wednesday) will focus on social media while Thursday will offer sessions designed to improve personal development and success. German visitors also have the chance to take part in guided tours of the show today, with live communication company Domset offering a choice of two themed tours - New Event Trends or Hot New Destinations and Venues.
Launch of IMEXLive – remote window on the show
For those industry professionals not able to attend the show in person, IMEX has devised another first – IMEXLive. The new online platform (located on the IMEX in Frankfurt home page) provides remote access to a number of show activities, including video interviews and a webcam. It will also serve as the central hub for all the show’s Twitter feeds and online photo galleries. Sponsored by London & Partners (formerly Visit London), it has been developed by Netherlands-based HCIBS, who also run the @IMEXSocialTeam. This team of four social media experts offers free, hands-on help to visitors and exhibitors throughout the show in order to help them engage more fully and achieve their social media goals. The team is sponsored by Mexico.
Summing up the scope of IMEX this year, IMEX Group Chairman, Ray Bloom says: “I am pleased that so many of the changes we have implemented over the past 12 months, and especially the introduction of the single IMEX inbox for hosted buyers, have paid dividends. There is no point in innovation for its own sake, so we always consult closely with the marketplace to ensure we’re adding extra value. Because we live in a fast-evolving world, that rate of change only ever seems to get quicker. However, one aspect that remains timeless is the desire for exhibitors and buyers to do more business together and that is why IMEX continues to invest, to innovate and to expand – as evidenced here in Frankfurt today.”