The eighth annual and largest ever IMEX meetings convention took place again in Las Vegas, October 16-18, 2018 at the Sands Expo. With an estimated 13,000 attendees including 3500 exhibitors from more than 150 countries, the convention this year expanded into a third hall with more than 60 new booths. As with each year, IMEX brings in new elements, speakers and partnerships to stay on top of meeting, incentive and convention trends.
One of the most intriguing new elements of the conference was the collaboration with C2 International, the innovative C2 Montreal conference. Well known for creativity and out of the box experiences, C2 encourages new approaches for networking, brainstorming and a general reinvention of traditional meeting formats.
In addition to the C2 International and IMEX partnership, another prominent collaboration was announced at the show: IAEE, MPI and SITE created the “Global MICE Collaborative.” Intended to provide training, resources, and economic growth for the meeting industry, this new collaboration will focus on global markets outside of the United States and Canada.
Along with the trademark trade show, press conferences, sessions on security and F&B, the lavish parties and concerts, Bizbash reporter Claire Hoffman identified three common conversations among meeting planners and hospitality specialists: Philanthropy, Personalization and Creative Design.
Many booths and sessions offered a theme of the impact meetings and events can have on the world. In fact, Hoffman notes, the theme of “legacy” was solidly embedded in the conference theme kicking off on Smart Monday with MPI supported education. A Keynote address by the Event Manager Blog editor, Julius Solaris, encouraged planners to become legacy creators and change makers.
The Hilton booth carried a change theme with the continuation of their “meet with purpose” initiative focusing on CSR, locally-sourced food, and environmentally responsible meeting practices. Booth visitors were invited to wear a floral pin and with each pin taken, Hilton would donate $1 to a local domestic violence shelter. These pins were easily visible on attendees throughout the show floor.
IMEX America included an environmental focus and was not only a straw-less event, but all service ware was 100% compostable. Large bins were visible through out encouraging attendees to drop in unwanted supplies for local donation. In the foyer, Clean the World organization invited attendees to assemble hygiene kits for distribution.
Wellness and attendee support were also common themes at the conference. More than 700 attendees participated in a 5k run on Wednesday, there were meditation sessions and ZenSpace offered noise-cancelling booths for breaks on the show floor. Caesars Forum Walking Challenge by Heka Health gave attendees another wellness opportunity and new this year, guests could link their FitBits or health trackers and earn prizes based on their teps for the week.
Attendee support and diversity was evident with the addition of the Association for Women in Events and the LGBT Meeting Professionals Association booths on the show floor.
While “Experiences” has been a common buzzword for some time, pairing it with customization and personalization continues to resonate with planners. As Hoffman reports, past focus on meetings was on content and logistics, now there is increased focus creating a positive, customizable experience for attendees. During her Keynote, Jessica Gibbons, C2 International’s executive director of global partnerships, shared a goal to always put attendees at the center of the experience.
To make her point, C2 presented the Cloud Lab. A fog-filled igloo on the show floor, the Cloud Lab was designed as a surreal space where attendees could clear their minds, awaken their senses and prepare for their next experience. Real Out of the Box thinking!
IMEX America 2019 will take place at the Sands Expo September 10 – 12, 2019.
Jennifer Lee Witherington, CMP, CMCP
Director, National Accounts
ACCESS Destination Services®
Special thanks to Claire Hoffman, www.BizBash.com