The numbers are in for the 11th edition of IMEX America held Oct. 10-13 at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas. While last year’s show was a reunion of sorts for the meetings and events industry, this year it was a business-fueled gathering.
About 12,000 people participated in IMEX America, including over 4,000 buyers. The 2022 show was 45% bigger than last year, due to an easing of travel restrictions along with 40% of returning exhibitors signing up for more booth space.
“The size of this year’s show is obviously a function of many in the industry being able to travel and plan meetings again and to do so with certainty. It’s been a long time coming and, although we a produced a great show last year, this week felt like the big comeback we’ve all been waiting for,” says IMEX Group Chairman Ray Bloom.
However, challenges remain as buyers are have become more discerning. “We’ve heard they’re preparing RFPs in more detail and being more rigorous in their selection criteria,” Bloom says.
In addition to buyers and suppliers from around the globe, hundreds of students took part to learn and experience the industry firsthand. In addition, college faculty members attended a program tailored specifically for them by IMEX and International Association of Exhibitions and Events.
- Business is back to being on an international level with over 4,000 buyers from 69 countries in attendance.
- Both agency and corporate planner numbers, representing 56% and 20% of hosted buyers, were on a par with last year.
- Global buyers brought substantial budgets and long-term plans, with 75% having annual budgets of over $1 million and 39% having spending power of more than $5 million. Business was being placed as far out as 2028.
- Over 3,300 exhibiting companies from more than 180 countries (including Europe, Asia Pacific, North America, and the Middle East) took part. Many had been unable to attend in 2021 and made a welcome return.
- About 62,000 appointments between buyers and suppliers were held over three days.
Sustainability and key topics
Some of the major themes discussed by attendees and speakers were sustainability, service levels, contracts, mental health, overall well-being, the pros and cons of distributed workforces, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI+B).
“Two concepts I take from this week are belonging and freedom of choice,” says IMEX Group CEO Carina Bauer. “The first is about making sure everyone feels welcomed—that they genuinely belong at our events and that our designs include them. The second is a call for planners to let go, to break free of over-scheduling and a ‘more is more’ approach. We need to put people first, give them more choice, and pay more attention to what makes us all human.”
IMEX America returns to Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on Oct. 16-19, 2023.