Following another busy IMEX in Frankfurt, over 830 international hosted buyers were surveyed after the show to gain valuable insight into their thoughts on social media, industry blogs and new technologies.
The findings of the 2011 IMEX in Frankfurt Hosted Buyer Social Media Survey (taken from the post-show exit survey) suggest that the uptake of social media for professional use has accelerated significantly compared to last year. Among the respondents, Facebook has risen in popularity with 71 per cent of hosted buyers now using it either for networking or business promotion purposes, rising from 60 per cent in 2010. Twitter is another social media platform that has increased in popularity, with 41 per cent of respondents now using it regularly, compared to 27 per cent in 2010.
Not surprisingly given its professional authority, LinkedIn is used by 69 per cent of the buyers surveyed, whilst YouTube is used by 25 per cent, demonstrating its growing role as a credible and viable channel for corporate marketing and communications within the international meetings industry.
Despite the proliferation and increasing influence of blogs within the international meetings industry, surprisingly, the number of respondents who say they do not regularly read one has increased slightly on 2010 - from 83 per cent to 86 per cent this year. Given the clear rise and popularity of short, sharp opportunities to grab and share information on social media, it’s possible that longer blog formats are proving more challenging for meetings industry professionals to squeeze into a busy working day.
Amongst other findings, the survey quizzed buyers on their use of the IMEX App, a brand new introduction for 2011 (which was developed by MPI and QuickMobile, and sponsored by Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau). Of the 838 buyers who responded, 61 per cent revealed they were aware of it, and of those who downloaded the new IMEX App, 80 per cent were iPhone users.
In terms of hosted buyer awareness of the various different App features, 91 per cent were most aware of the ‘Tell a Friend’ section although the ‘My Schedule’ feature was the most frequently used. When it came to the App features deemed most useful, the top three were ‘My Schedule’, the ‘Floorplan’ and the ‘Venue’ features respectively.
iPhone v Blackberry
52 per cent of respondents used the free IMEX WIFI (provided for all hosted buyers courtesy of Destination Frankfurt Rhein-Main) and results once again confirmed the popularity of the iPhone, with a massive 72 per cent utilising the free WIFI via an iPhone compared to 23 per cent via an iPad. Comparatively, only nine per cent accessed it via a Blackberry, which contrasts with last year’s results where Blackberry was the Smartphone of choice in the global meetings industry. Of those respondents in 2010, 47 per cent used Blackberries as opposed to 31 per cent who used Apple iPhones. This year’s results may suggest that the iPhone has now forged a stronger position as a business device or simply that iPhone users are more ‘App’ aware and more willing to download them than Blackberry users.
QR codes are increasingly being used by corporations and 26 per cent of respondents stated that they did notice the QR codes being used prior to and at the show, although a slightly higher proportion - 29 per cent - did not. Only 16 per cent of hosted buyers revealed that they used their mobile phone to scan an IMEX QR code, demonstrating that there is huge scope for further education and adoption. One respondent, who did use their phone to scan a QR code, having never done so before, described it as “a new experience and a useful one.”
Commenting on the findings, Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group, says: “It is interesting to observe the continued rapid growth of marketing channels such as Twitter and also to see that Facebook has maintained its position as the most commonly used social media platform among hosted buyers. New technologies are being introduced all the time, and are fundamentally changing the way we work, communicate and do business. QR codes, for example, are a relatively new innovation but are already being widely used by many organisations in other business sectors so we expect to see their use increase significantly across the international meetings industry in the next year. Recent changes across the sector also suggest that mobile payment systems, environmental monitoring and even intelligent sensors embedded into mobiles are the next areas to watch within the industry.
“I am delighted that the launch of the IMEX App was well received. Our aim now is to apply some of this important feedback to develop this convenient and intuitive management tool further for IMEX America.”