IMEX Frankfurt, held May 19-21 at the Congress Center Messe Frankfurt, is ready to wrap on a high note, in terms of exhibitor and buyer attendance as well as being a harbinger for a rapidly improving global economy and meetings and exhibitions industry.
“There’s a mood of optimism in the industry,” said IMEX Group Chairman Ray Bloom. “I think it’s been very obvious this year at this show, compared to previous years.”
Bloom said that feedback from both exhibitors and visitors was positive, with a record amount of business being done on the show floor.
Although final numbers were not available at press time, IMEX estimates some 9,000 participants, which includes hosted buyers, suppliers and exhibitors, will have participated, with more than 62,000 individual appointments taking place. More than 3,900 of the attendees were hosted buyers, according to preliminary figures from IMEX.
More than half of these appointments were accompanied by an appointment profile or RFP, a feature launched at last year’s event, which increased the effectiveness of the appointments.
Bloom said that more than 30 percent of the hosted buyers were from outside of Europe—many new buyers came for the first time from countries such as China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Egypt and Israel—which represented the largest number of long-haul attendees ever to attend the show. This resulted in longer stays in the host city and thus the highest amount of participation on the last day of the show in the event’s history.
There were 55 new stands on the show floor this year, and 20 percent of returning exhibitors increased the amount of space they used; 70 of the major stands invested in new designs this year, according to Bloom, leading to a more “open” event in terms of exhibit floor design.
Major initiatives included the following:
- An Exclusively Corporate@IMEX event that featured 80 corporate buyers with a combined annual meetings and event spend of more than $270 million; Bloom said that a large presence by Cisco Systems accounted for the lion’s share of the buying power.
- An Association Day & Evening, attended by approximately 300 association executives from 39 countries, representing a major push by IMEX to increase its reach into the global association market.
- A Politicians Forum that was its largest ever, drawing 100 participants, including approximately 40 politicians and 60 meetings and exhibition industry leaders.
The healthy attendance of politicians points to the increased clout of the industry on the worldwide stage, according to Bloom.
“I think that our industry is getting more recognized by leaders from throughout the world,” he said.
Other IMEX Frankfurt news included the announcement by PCMA that it would launch its CEU-accredited Business School program on the Smart Monday pre-show education day at IMEX America, Oct. 13 in Las Vegas. IMEX also announced it will partner with the International Special Events Society (ISES) to hold its first Global Summit in Scotland on the weekend following its 2016 Frankfurt show, which for the first time will be held in April, from the 19th to the 21st.
Riding a meetings industry trend, IMEX placed an emphasis on well-being at this year’s event, offering a Be Well at IMEX program that featured a device-free meditation room, with yoga, relaxation and mindful exercises; an emphasis on offering healthy eating alternatives, often in conjunction with suppliers in their exhibit stands; and educational programs and “Campfire” chats on mind and body wellness topics.
According to IMEX Group CEO Carina Bauer, the Be Well program is a “natural” fit for maximizing the business-focused nature of the event.
“We are here to do business, but I think there is a consensus that you can do business [and practice wellness], and for some people that means rejuvenating between appointments,” she said.