Las Vegas. Feedback from over 2000 hosted buyers, 1700 attendees and nearly 2000 exhibitors who attended the debut of IMEX America this week confirms that the new trade show for the meetings, incentive travel and events industry lived up to its promise of delivering high quality business, networking and professional education over the past four days.
Speaking at the show’s closing press briefing at The Venetian|The Palazzo today, IMEX Group Chairman, Ray Bloom, expressed his delight that the first show had gone so well and received a widespread positive reaction. Reiterating a comment made earlier in the week by Bruce MacMillan, CEO & President of the show’s strategic partner and premier education provider, MPI, he said: “We have successfully delivered a new, collaborative business model, which is not a US trade show in Las Vegas but a truly global marketplace in America plus a tremendous education program. That was always our vision but, of course, over the past four days thousands of industry professionals have been able to see and experience it for themselves. They now completely understand what we set out to do and have appreciated the fresh dimension it has brought to the industry here in the US.”
He shared some of the feedback and first-year achievements with media and guests who attended the briefing and explained that a notable aspect of IMEX America had been the high volumes of pre-scheduled appointments, as well as ‘walk-up’ business that exhibitors had been receiving. He gave one example of the SECC (Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre) whose team were delighted to receive a booking for a 12,000 delegate event from a buyer who simply arrived on the day without an appointment looking to place the event outside of the US for the first time. Michelle Saran, Executive director of the Canadian Tourism Commission had also commented: “We’ve had many one-on-one appointments – I haven’t seen a booth this busy in North America for years and years. Our team pre-planned appointments but we’ve also had a lot of people walking on to the stand for ad-hoc meetings.”
Bloom explained that over 800 US companies were among the nearly-2000 exhibitors at IMEX America this week. Many had high hopes before the show but were understandably cautious given the wider economic challenges facing many global markets. However, from the largest international hotel groups to single destinations, positive feedback showed that those hopes had been fulfilled by the levels and quality of business achieved. This had been particularly noticeable at Association Day, organised by ICCA and ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership, when the seniority and quality of association meeting buyers present had been remarked on by many of the Las Vegas partners in particular.
Bloom also delivered some key statistics about the first show’s performance. 53% of hosted buyers attending had budgets in excess of $1 million. Over 30,000 total appointments were made before and during the show including 23,930 individual appointments. Downloads of the IMEX App (developed by IMEX, MPI and QuickMobile and sponsored by Freeman) also reached high levels with 2050 people using the App to enhance and inform their IMEX America experience. The use of RFID badging technology for the first time (thanks to sponsors Experient and Lygase) will also provide new and deeper levels of information. “We will definitely be using this new insight to develop and refine the show in 2012,” explained Bloom.
He also described how several of the professional education sessions had left a lasting impression on attendees with a noticeable ‘buzz’ around the MPI keynote speakers and USTA President Roger Dow’s update on the US Meetings Mean Business campaign. The invitation only Executive Meetings Forum, for C-level corporate meeting executives, was also extremely well received. Many participants confessed that, although they knew the trade show offered an extensive professional development program, few had realised quite how big it really was. As Bruce MacMillan had expressed it the day before: “Having packed-out sessions at our own education conference is one thing. Having packed-out sessions at a trade show is unheard of. That’s the big difference. MPI and IMEX America have changed the value proposition here in Vegas this week.”
The Strategic Partnership with Meeting Professionals International (MPI) had ‘more than delivered’ said Bloom and he expressed his delight that Smart Monday together with the previous night’s MPI Foundation Rendezvous had been such a success.
In addition, he praised and congratulated other important partners, including Site and PCMA. “Both Site and PCMA directors and members have embraced IMEX America and, for them, the week isn’t over yet as the Site International Conference and the PCMA International Summit both get underway later this afternoon. We look forward to developing all our association partnerships further in the future.”
Bloom also acknowledged once again the importance of the support the show had received from its numerous partners in Las Vegas, notably the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, The Venetian®|The Palazzo® and Sands Expo and many others. “Their support has been truly exceptional,” he said. “We really could not have asked for more and once again I’d like to express my gratitude for their backing and for all their hard work and understanding.”
In his closing remarks, Bloom said: “IMEX America has succeeded in producing lasting achievements in three main areas this week: volume and quality of business, professional education and, of course, networking and new global and US business contacts. This being Vegas, ‘the city of cities’, thousands of people were also able to laugh, relax and be entertained at the same time.”
He concluded: “This has been a successful first show and everything we had hoped for. IMEX America and MPI both agree we’ve found a formula for success and we now intend to build on it. I look forward to seeing many of you in Frankfurt come May when we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of IMEX in Frankfurt and I very much look forward to returning to Las Vegas in 2012 when I expect IMEX America to hit another home run.”