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IMEX America 2023 Highlights a Resilient Industry

Some 15,000 participants came together in Las Vegas, Nevada, for IMEX America 2023—and there was much to celebrate

By Todd R. Berger

10.23.23 Participants at IMEX America 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada
Participants in the photo booth at IMEX America in Las Vegas, Nevada | Courtesy of IMEX America

The 12th edition of IMEX America closed Oct. 19 on a note of welcome reassurance for the global business events industry today by marking its biggest show ever.

With almost 15,000 confirmed participants on the show floor at Mandalay Bay, of which over 5,000 were buyers (including 4,000-plus hosted buyers), the success of this year’s IMEX America confirmed the sector has made a fast, robust comeback with growth in all areas, and both short and long-lead business being booked. Exhibitors also reported the welcome return of incentive trips and citywide, multivenue events.

Buyers, of which one fifth represented the corporate sector, took part in over 80,000 prescheduled meetings in three days, of which 73,000 were 1-2-1s with exhibitors.

Beth Olson, director of sales at Visit Santa Barbara, says, “The walk-up meetings have been as beneficial as our scheduled meetings—that was a hidden surprise for us. Our booth partners already have several requests for proposal in hand, and, in four days here, I have covered more business than in four months!”

“We invested in our own booth for the first time as we wanted a stronger presence at the show,” explains Daniel Palamo, director of global sales for Houston First Corp. “We’ve had more meetings than ever before and a great quality of buyers. They’re coming to us ready to close business.”

Personalization  

Many exhibitors attracted strong interest from buyers with their personalized merchandise and unusual activations. The Visit Phoenix booth was constantly busy as buyers lined up to have their photos printed onto an edible cookie. Visit Baltimore’s temporary tattoos also created a buzz, while Brand Makers saw crowds of buyers lining up to design and brand their own baseball caps.

Elsewhere the show’s biggest-ever Inspiration Hub, sponsored by WebEx, saw over 2,000 people attend education sessions in a variety of formats across six tracks. Topics ranged from the personal—how to manage individual and team members’ mental health—to future trends and forecasts for different territories/sectors and worldwide. As an example, Data Driven Event Marketing Insights with Brittney Hegarty and Nicola Kastner was set for 30 people but 85 showed up. The high level of interest spoke volumes about how event planners are now using data to design events that achieve greater marketing leverage.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and event technology were both big talking points among exhibitors and buyers. Interest in AI is clearly strong, although anecdotal reports suggest that so far only a few companies are using it at an enterprise level.

Convenience on the Go 

Reaction to the ease and simplicity of the new IMEX app powered by Expoplatform was positive, with buyers appreciating the ability to schedule meetings “in the moment” when they spotted business contacts live online. Several exhibitors with a few meeting spaces to fill successfully tapped into the app’s “promoted posts” feature to fill up their schedules within the day. Now that lead-scanning is free and built into the app, the data showed that 124,000 contacts were scanned during the week. The majority were supplier to buyer, but a proportion is also buyers connecting with buyers and exhibitors with exhibitors, confirming the collaborative nature of the industry and the multiple ways in which value and human connections are created face to face at IMEX. In addition, 3,000 meetings were booked via the app during the show—a new feature that served its purpose of “convenience on the go.”

IMEX Group CEO Carina Bauer, says, “I’m delighted the industry turned out in such strong numbers from across the globe this week and that IMEX America once again provided a carefully designed platform for everyone to come together for business, building better human connections around the world, growing and learning from each other.”

Speaking at the traditional IMEX America closing press conference alongside IMEX Chair Ray Bloom and Bauer were Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority; Stephanie Glanzer, chief sales officer and senior vice president at MGM Resorts International; and Drew Holmgreen, chief brand officer at Meeting Professionals International.

imexamerica.com

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