IMEX 2009: Looking ahead

Photo: IMEX

Photo: IMEX

Optimistic. “Connections between people have never been more important than today when fundamental changes are influencing the way that we work,” pointed out IMEX Chairman Ray Bloom at the opening of IMEX meetings fair on 26 May 2009 in hall 8 of Messe Frankfurt. Due to its close co-operation with associations and initiatives like the Politicians’ Forum, IMEX’ logistics go beyond those of a trade fair, say Bloom.

70 seminars and workshops offer knowledge input, while the “Meetings for Success” project, launched together with the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC), is to make decision-makers aware of the value of meetings. Records were broken by 3,500 exhibitors from 157 countries and 3,700 hosted buyers as well as 5,100 unique visitors. The green “Visitors” ribbon on the badge appeared everywhere symbolising dedication and thirst for information on the part of planners.

They found new products at the stand of the 2009 Wild Card winners, featuring the Serbian city of Novi Sad, the Cook Islands and the Masurian conference centre of Zamek Ryn. “With our 350-seat auditorium with its Gothic vaulted ceiling and 164-room hotel in the Masurian Lake District we offer an excellent service for Euro clients,” says Marketing Director Barbara Pawliczuk. At the Germany stand -  the largest at IMEX with over 1,400 sqm and 180 exhibitors – the GCB Wild Card winners were Destination Chemnitz and SwarmWorks Ltd. with its innovative infrared tool for interactive large group events. “We are very happy with our presence at IMEX and customer interest here. Our favourable price structure attracts many people,” reports Anett Günther, head of event management and marketing of Messe Chemnitz.

“Value for money“ is a slogan you often hear at IMEX 2009. Lutz Vogt, head of the German Convention Bureau (GCB), pointed out the excellent value for money of the IMEX host country in his opening speech. Many of the youngest members of EU27 are luring Euro customers with a highly flexible service and exchange rate advantages. “Our domestic market is small with a population of only 1.3m. With a 14 per cent loss of our GDP we have to rely all the more on foreign markets. In October the new Solaris convention centre will open, and group rates for 4 and 5-star hotels are around 70 to 80 euros,” says Riine Tiigi, head of the Estonian Convention Bureau. Low prices are also the advantage of neighbouring Lithuania.

“In July 2010 we will be hosting the ICCA Research Sales Meeting and at EIBTM 2009 we will take a stand together with other Baltic states,” reports Jolanta Beniuliene. However, the construction of a new convention centre has been postponed, as the main investor Nordbank has frozen the project for the time being. The same applies to the construction of the planned convention centre in Budapest, where the Australian investor has withdrawn his commitment. But Hungarian hotels are well-booked. “For us the customer is king. And this is the message we will communicate at the Meeting Romania show on 23 and 24 September 2009 in Bucharest,” points out Ioana Nan of the Romanian Tourist Office in Berlin.

The Asian countries are also very confident. “We are definitely back on the international market and posted an increase of 30 per cent in meetings and incentives in 2008,” says Syamsul Lussa, Director for Market Development of the ministry for culture and tourism in Indonesia. After the 2008 World Climate Conference with 10,000 attendees in Bali we hosted the World Ocean Conference at the Grand Kawanua Convention Centre in Sulawesi from 11 to 15 May 2009. Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre headed by Peter Brokenshire is the major role model of Asia’s congress culture. In the first four months of 2009 the KLCC gained 17 new event bookings.

The new national CVB is now the central place to contact for planners in Malaysia. With a second convention centre opening in autumn 2009 in Kuching, the region of Sarawak is also becoming a meeting magnet in Malaysia. Egypt also announced that it would be founding a CVB. “At EIBTM 2009 we will launch the Egyptian Consortium for International Travel & Event Management (ECITEM),” explains Tamer Marzouk, Managing Director of the Egyptian Tourist Board in Frankfurt. He is convinced of his country’s rich potential, especially for the German market.

And the Hanseatic city of Hamburg at last has its own CVB now, as well. Its stakeholders are Hamburg Tourismus GmbH and Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH. The HCB is directed by CCH Chairman Edgar Hirt and Udo Schimmelpfennig of Hamburg Tourismus GmbH. Together they will be positioning the attractive city more offensively for meetings and conventions. The aims of IMEX 2009 are to establish professional structures and address target groups. Many exhibitors were happy with the response. Switzerland had more appointments than last year. Vice President Sales & Distribution Daniela Schade at the Accor Group stand was very happy.

Peter Payet, Vice President Arabian Adventure, posted less demand but of a higher quality than last year, while Alexander Moutanov, head of marketing of Sofia Congress Centre, saw little interest on the part of Hosted Buyers. “Work starts at home,” they claimed in view of the piles of business cards they had collected. Everybody found some inspiration. “For me up-to-date information on new technical products is really interesting, as we increasingly receive requests for conference bridges,” reports Helga Benes of Monier Roofing Components GmbH & Co. KG.

The next IMEX will take place in Frankfurt from 25 to 27 May 2010.