IMEX America 2019 to Zero In on Imagination

It will be featured as the Talking Point throughout the show

IMEX America has been widely praised for its trailblazing—and often unconventional—experiential offerings, but this year’s event—to be held Sept. 10–12 at Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas—will take them to a new level as it zeroes in on imagination as its Talking Point.

“Attendees increasingly look for and remember interesting experiential elements—they make it imperative to be on-site at an event, rather than just sitting in front of a computer or watching it virtually from their desks,” says Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group. “So, delivering memorable experiences is part of the plan, especially since our Talking Point is Imagination.”

IMEX Group is encouraging meeting and event professionals to consider how they can imaginatively collaborate with other organizations and the benefits this can bring.

“We’re working to bring the power of imagination to everything we’re doing at IMEX America,” Bauer says. “Absolutely everything—and everyone—is connected or capable of becoming connected, and the driving force behind all the positive changes we’re witnessing is the power of the human imagination—a uniquely human quality. So, we’re exploring and celebrating this aspect of being human—one that we frequently take for granted. Think of it as a human superpower; our instinct to ask, without judgment or limitation, ‘What if…’”

IMEX America 2019 will focus on three facets of the Imagination Talking Point—transformation and collaboration, diversity and inclusion, and sustainability. They will be included in IMEX Group’s industry white paper, which is being produced by and supported by PSAV. The white paper will be launched during Smart Monday (Sept. 8) and its author, Julius Solaris, will lead attendees in a 2 1/2-hour deep dive into its main findings.

“He’ll share stories gathered from several hundred events all over the globe, all of which achieved some truly inspiring and imaginative outcomes,” Bauer says.

Smart Monday, which is powered each year by Meeting Professionals International, will include other sessions—such as deep dives and workshops—that focus on imagination. Artist Phil Hansen will deliver the Smart Monday keynote, “Embrace the Shake: Transforming Limitations into Opportunities,” in which he discusses how he overcame a career-ending tremor in his right hand. Hansen will describe how such setbacks can be used as an impetus for creativity and imagination, including how planners can embrace their own limitations—reduced budgets, limited resources and rushed timelines—to create positive outcomes.

The ever-lively trade show begins on Tuesday, and will bring together some 3,500 suppliers and 4,000 buyers to plan and book everything from high-level incentives to large association gatherings. The trade-show floor also enables participants to forge new relationships and strengthen existing ties.

IMEX America 2018 attracted 13,588 total participants, including exhibitors, buyers, faculty, students and media. There were 3,500 exhibitors from 150 countries, 3,327 hosted buyers from 63 countries and 1,102 buyer attendees from 37 countries. Some 74,000 total appointments took place, including 64,500 individual (as opposed to group) appointments.

The event is about much more than the trade show, though. Keynotes, educational sessions, forums and foodie tours will be included, along with offerings such as Events Industry Council’s Hall of Leaders & Pacesetter Awards on Tuesday, and IMEXrun and MPI Foundation Rendezvous Night on Wednesday.

“The show has become the annual meeting place for the whole industry,” Bauer says. “The major industry associations, the big hotels, the corporations…they all use IMEX as a hub, knowing that anyone who’s anyone is likely to be in Vegas that same week. Now that I find enormously satisfying.”

Next year’s IMEX America will be the last held at Sands Expo. IMEX Group leaders announced last year that after 10 years of hosting the event there, it will move to Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. IMEX Group couldn’t lock in space at Sands Expo from 2021 onward, said IMEX Group Chairman Ray Bloom.