IMEX America 2019: The Magical Moment

Excitement abounds at Sands Expo when the trade show floor opens

Nothing at IMEX America quite matches the excitement and energy of participants when the trade show floor opens at Sands Expo Convention Center on Tuesday morning.

“When the doors open, the crowds rush in—and keep in mind that the booth staff are already inside,” says Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group. “People don’t just stroll in; they want to get inside, to get new ideas, make new contacts and learn about new venues, sources and suppliers. They are keen and ready to do business, and the electric show floor atmosphere reflects the excitement that comes with people doing business and meeting both old and new friends.

“It can be hectic—and somewhat overwhelming, especially for first-timers—but people are warm and friendly. And there’s often something unexpected from a country, region or venue that you thought you might know.”

Bauer feels that the trade show just keeps getting better.

“It’s worth noting that some of our exhibitors are set to deliver some great experiences in their booths this year,” she says. “Increasingly, they are flexing their creative muscles at IMEX America, not only to strengthen engagement with attendees but also to capture hearts and minds on social media. It’s a win-win.”

Exhibitors will include airlines, conference and exhibition centers, convention bureaus, cruise lines, event-managements specialists, hotel companies, spa resorts, technology providers and tourist offices.

The trade show is a business magnet, with plenty of deals getting done, but it also includes educational offerings, food and beverage, and more. Booths are colorfully and imaginatively decorated, reflecting the eye-catching qualities of the companies and organizations. Essentially, the floor is a microcosm of the world, with buyers and sellers from throughout the world meeting each other, renewing their relationships and doing business together.

Last year, IMEX America attracted 3,500 exhibitors from 150 countries, compared with 3,390 exhibitors from 150 countries in 2017. IMEX Group broke down the exhibitors by region and type, and found that 26.6 percent were from the United States and Canada (compared with 24.5 percent in 2017). This group was followed by hotels (23.3 percent), Europe (12 percent), private sector (9 percent), Asia Pacific (8.5 percent), Latin America (8 percent), Caribbean (4.7 percent), incentive products (3 percent), Africa and Middle East (2.5 percent) and technology (2.4 percent).

IMEX America 2019 will feature more than 20 new exhibitors, including Auberge Resorts Collection, Aurora Expeditions, Beyond Limits, City Sightseeing Italy SRL, Destination Cleveland, Eventcore, EventPrep, International Group Sales, Leonardo Hotels, Lollipop Signs by Moving Products, Los Cabos Tourism Board, Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau, Resorts World Las Vegas, Rocco Forte Hotels, The DMC Group, The Hoxton, The Moorings, Tourism Trinidad Limited, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, Visit San Antonio and Visit Spokane WA.

Thirty-one exhibitors have purchased expanded booth space, with 48.3 percent expanding 50 percent or more, including six—Destination Concepts Inc., Hilton Head Island Visitor & Convention Bureau, Live Nation Special Events, Teneo Hospitality Group, Topgolf and Visit Newport Beach Inc.—that will at least double the size of their booths.

Also, six new hosted-buyer groups—Auberge Resorts, Belmond Hotels, Beyond Limits (U.S. and Latin American group), Body & Soul (U.S. and Latin American group), CSI DMC, and CWT M&E—will be attending this year’s event. —Dan Johnson

Hospitality Corporations

Many of the leading hospitality companies in the world will have booths at IMEX America 2019.

Boasting 13 properties lining the Las Vegas Strip alone—including MGM Grand Las Vegas and Bellagio Hotel and Casino, MGM Resorts International is known worldwide.
The company has properties in the United States and China, with additional operations in Japan. Situated just outside of Washington, D.C., MGM National Harbor specializes in smaller groups, and offers state-of-the-art meeting and event spaces with up to 50,000 sq. ft.

Located in 113 countries—including the United States, Germany and Columbia—Hilton Worldwide Holdings comprises more than 5,700 properties and 17 brands worldwide. It is one of largest hospitality companies in the world, with more than 923,000 hotel rooms.

Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills in California is one of the company’s premier properties, with 5,600 sq. ft. of indoor event space, a rooftop lounge deck, audiovisual equipment access and complimentary Wi-Fi in all meeting rooms.

Operating 10 brands, 43 hotels and 12,814 hotel rooms, Palladium Hotel Group has properties spanning across six countries in Europe and the Americas.

Situated between TRS Coral Hotel and Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort, the Palladium Hotel Group’s properties in Costa Mujeres—a 20-minute drive north from Cancun, Mexico—is the company’s largest convention center. It can hold up to 900 occupants cocktail style or 890 people theater style in its ballroom. The Costa Mujeres complex also houses several specialty restaurants and bars.

Under its eight brands, Posadas USA Incorporated operates more than 130 hotels and more than 22,000 meeting rooms. The company has four designated brands for groups and events: Live Aqua, Grand Fiesta Americana, Fiesta Americana and The Explorean.

Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun boasts more than 86,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor meeting space, the 15,351-square-foot Grand Coral Ballroom and 21 breakout rooms.

Hosting over 900 events each year, Club Med Incorporated has meeting space for groups ranging in capacity from 40 to 2,130 occupants. It specializes in all-inclusive packages all around the world, including Brazil and Mexico.

The company’s Lake Paradise Brazil resort, a one-hour drive from Sao Paulo, has 30 meeting rooms, with the largest providing 21,850 sq. ft. It also has 404 rooms guest rooms and a restaurant with a capacity of 650 people. —Victoria Rohrer

Convention Centers, Hotels and Resorts

Once again, IMEX America’s show floor will feature stellar meeting properties and convention and visitors bureaus.

Providing connections to Michelin-starred restaurants, Forbes Five Star hotels, transportation services, vendors and suppliers, Destination DC can help host your next meeting or event of any size. Walter E. Washington Convention Center provides free Wi-Fi access throughout the building, meeting rooms and exhibit halls. The convention center boasts 703,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space across two levels and five exhibit halls; the largest ballroom in the mid-Atlantic region, at 52,000 sq. ft.; 77 breakout rooms; and 50 loading docks.

Offering 196,222 sq. ft. of event space, 57 breakout rooms, 64 event rooms, a maximum capacity of 3,800 in Marriott Ballroom and 1,153 hotel rooms, Washington Marriott Wardman Park is the largest hotel in Washington D.C.

Greensboro Area Convention and Visitors Bureau in North Carolina exhibits a downtown blend of modern and historic architecture while only being 2 miles from Greensboro Coliseum Complex. The 210,000-square-foot complex hosts concerts, conventions and other special events, and has a seating capacity of 22,000. The coliseum’s special events center showcases 167,000 sq. ft. of event space and its main exhibition halls can combine for a total of 120,000 sq. ft. of space.

With relaxing yoga classes, outdoor challenge courses and the opportunity to “bee” a beekeeper for a day, Miraval Austin in Texas really does have it all. The resort has more than 20,000 sq. ft. of creative indoor/outdoor function spaces that range from traditional meeting rooms to tranquil gardens and a working farm.

The 117 spa-inspired guest rooms and suites are spread across 13 separate lodges in Balcones Canyonlands Preserve so that your attendees are properly pampered. Offering both small and large meeting spaces, Marina del Rey Convention and Visitors Bureau in California showcases six hotels, 14 main dining options, yacht clubs, charter companies, numerous activities, and public parks and beaches that can double as event spaces. The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey provides a ballroom with a seating capacity of 84–900 people, depending on your meeting needs.

Boasting eight hotels with meeting spaces, one-of-a-kind cuisine, museums, gardens and more, Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau in California is a one-stop shop for all things meeting planning. The state-of-the-art Pasadena Convention Center offers three exhibit halls, a grand ballroom, a civic auditorium and an 18-room conference center. It is also one of the greenest convention centers in North America, receiving LEED Gold Certification. It showcases 97,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space and 25 breakout rooms. The Langham Huntington, Pasadena showcases The Huntington Ballroom, with 11,220 sq. ft. of meeting space and a seating capacity of 1,000 in theater and reception style.

Quebec City Convention Centre is part of Place Quebec, a large, fully integrated complex with two coffee and sandwich shops, a convenience store, a dry cleaner, a Nautilus fitness center, two ATMs and a ScotiaBank branch. Its underground passageways connect the center to four-star hotels Hilton Quebec and Delta Quebec, and an indoor parking lot with more than 4,000 spaces. The convention center has a total capacity of 9,000 attendees, 134,500 sq. ft. of exhibition space, 57,874 sq. ft. of meeting space, 38 meeting rooms, a client lounge and a boardroom.

Velas Resorts has a collection of exclusive resorts in some of the nicest destinations in Mexico, due to the locations and their natural, historical and cultural features. Grand Velas Riviera Maya offers 267 suites and a 10,000-square-foot convention center, Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit provides 539 suites and a 30,000-square-foot convention center and Grand Velas Los Cabos has 307 suites and a 16,300-square-foot convention center.

Atlantis Paradise Island Bahamas offers everything you could want from a top convention center (including state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment), with the added perk of being in the beautiful Bahamas. The 50,000-square-foot Imperial Ballroom is just one of many facilities in the conference center. Others include a 40,000-square-foot prefunction space, a banquet kitchen and 30 breakout rooms—not to mention the 21 outdoor spaces. Atlantis offers eight different accommodation blocks to meet every budget and preference.

TripAdvisor’s 2019 Travelers’ Choice winner, Cayman Islands Department of Tourism offers a variety of activities for meetings professionals and their attendees on the islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

The Cayman Islands can be reached easily from major U.S. cities, Canada and the United Kingdom, and offer multiple hotels that can host your next event. The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman on Seven Mile Beach offers more than 13,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor meeting space, including the island’s largest ballroom, at 9,000 sq. ft., and a seating capacity of 1,000, reception style. Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa, also on Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman, provides everything from beachfront meeting spaces to a large ballroom that can accommodate up to 885 guests, theater style.

Visit Costa Rica offers activities from ecotourism to bird-watching, so it’s easy to see why it’s an ideal destination to hold your next meeting. Costa Rica Convention Bureau provides conference centers alongside comfortable meeting rooms at affiliated hotels. Designed to generate one-of-a-kind experiences, Costa Rica Convention Center in San Jose has 62,161 sq. ft. of meeting rooms, a main room with an area of 40,246 sq. ft. and six conference rooms for up to 1,800 guests. —Georgia McMillan & Victoria Rohrer