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IMEX 2018

"More creative, more innovative"

Imex featured a number of new initiatives in 2018: meetings high in the sky or in dark surroundings, the conference 'She Means Business', a live zone and a record exhibitor attendance brought the 'Legacy' focus topic to life.

"T
his year's Imex was the most creative and spectacular edition of this show we've ever had, no doubt about it." Ray Bloom, Chairman Imex Group, in wrapping up the trade show was absolutely delighted with what had been going on in Frankfurt in the past days. When asked about what the legacy (Talking Point in 2018) of this year's show might be, Bloom didn't have to think twice: "If I were asked to define in one word the legacy of the IMEX 2018, that word would be 'Innovation'." And in fact, the 9,000 Hosted Buyers and visitors to the show staged from May 15 to 17 were confronted with some innovations.

EduMonday staged on the day prior to the Imex at the Messe Frankfurt's Kap Europa kicked off the march of new initiatives with three premieres: Rising Talent, Agency Directors Forum and the conference 'She Means Business'. More than 400 pre-event registrations showed clearly that the Imex Group staging this conference jointly with tw tagungswirtschaft was absolutely in tune with times. "We believe that the exchange of experiences and opinions is the best avenue for women to interact with each other and with their male counterparts in order to promote cooperation and understanding and to jointly achieve diversity and gender equality," explained Imex Group CEO Carina Bauer. In the inspiring keynote 'Women in Space', the astronaut instructor Laura Winterling and the fighter pilot Major Nicola Baumann took the predominantly female visitors on a spin through space. Their advice to all women: "Have confidence in yourselves!"


That could more or less be considered the motto for the Learning Labs of the new partner of the Imex Group C2 International. This organizer of business events installed two absolutely out-of-the-ordinary meeting rooms in the educational zone, which was for the first time set up in Hall 9. While buyers and exhibitors met in lofty heights in the Sky Lab, where the more courageous attendees were elevated in their seats almost to the hall ceiling, the meetings in the 'Dark Lab' were held in complete darkness. "We're very pleased with the way C2 International designs and stages events," said Carina Bauer. "Our two organizations are absolutely convinced of the need for attendance events. At the same time, there's considerable demand for innovative function concepts, which further augments personal interacting at events and thus sustainably enhances the success of these experiences."


At the new Legacy Wall, designated to illustrate the Talking Point, visitors had pinned more than 100 thoughts on the significance and the responsibility of the meeting industry. Appropriately, the Imex Group in the course of the show co-signed the Ascent CEO Promise, calling upon managers to create a culture of inclusion in their businesses and at their corporate events.


In addition to the established Education Stream in the three seminar rooms at the Inspiration Hub, where more than 250 sessions were staged, it was above all the Live Zone with its photo bus or live acts such as the gigantic Dundu Man as well as the Co-Working Campus designed by Zeus, a network of young-andup event-technology businesses, which attracted visitors to Hall 9. These features are the product of new partnerships between Imex and Best of Events, memo- media and Zeus. Bloom: "We're delighted with the cooperation with our new strategic partners and we're grateful for their support, with which they substantially enhanced the Imex experience this week."

Apart from all these new initiatives, the Imex as before had its focus on exchange and interaction between Hosted Buyers and visitors on one side and the around 3,500 exhibiting businesses on the other side. A total of 68,000 pre-scheduled meetings had been registered, 74 percent of these crowned with RfPs (Requests for Proposal), i.e. tangible returns. Bloom emphasized that a lot of business had been transacted. He took particular pleasure in narrating that he, while walking to the concluding media conference, had met this exhibitor who was very pleased that she had just signed a six-digit contract. "And that's just to give you an idea of what was happening here!" In spite of all innovations, the visitor, meeting and RfP figures were approximately what they were at the prior event, but, as was pointed out, the decisive factor was the quality of attendees, not the mere quantity. According to Jutta Heinrich, Frankfurt Convention Bureau Division Manager, that quality had been truly remarkable and yet another escalation as compared to the prior year.

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Buyers and exhibitors met in lofty heights in the “Sky Lab”.
PHOTO: IMEX GROUP

The number of exhibitors on the other side had risen, this year's edition was the largest IMEX ever – both in terms of exhibitor turnout as well as the booked total space. The space needed for exhibitors in Hall 8 is one of the reasons for almost the entire educational program having been staged in Hall 9. The diversity of suppliers at the show was impressively reflected in the list of first-time exhibitors, among these Russia Convention Bureau, Uganda Tourism Board, Caribbean Tours and Visit Lebanon.

This year, one focus was on technology of all sorts. The new Tech Café was the perfect venue for planners to test innovative event technologies and tools, with the features ranging from Artificial Intelligence over Virtual Reality all the way to Gamification. Moreover, the Technology Pavilion, the Tech Knowledge Area masterminded by The Meeting Pool, the start-up contest #Imexpitch and the Chat Bar, located in the new multimedia pop-up-room G-Tainer, were all centered on the ever-more complex topic of event technology.

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PHOTO: DFV MEDIENGRUPPE, ALEXANDER ENGLERT

PINK HOUR@IMEX

“Women only”: On 15 May 2018 the Imex Group and tw tagungswirtschaft staged the “Pink Hour” for female visitors and exhibitors of Imex in Frankfurt. Held for the second time, the networking event attracted about 200 women. They gathered at the stand of tw tagungswirtschaft to connect, to share ideas and a glass of prosecco.

The show's program and reach was rounded out by initiatives such as the IMEX Policy Forum for about 30 politicians and several decision-makers in the meeting industry, PCMA Business School, Future Leaders Forum, Exclusively Corporate for more than 100 event planners in major corporations including Siemens, Ikea, L’Oreal and Bayer, and the Association Day: all these were program elements with customized contents for their respective target groups. On top of all that, there was the Imexrun, which saw more than 400 runners at the starting line on Wednesday morning, and 22 evening functions.

Ray Bloom summarized that the creative and experimental facets of the show had attained more appeal and charisma than had been anticipated a year ago. He's optimistic about the future and he does not believe that the innovations presented are actually at their maximum. There's always the will and the urge for advancement and renewal, and he's convinced that the industry will become ever-more creative and innovative as it moves forward.  CHRISTIAN FUNK
 

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