Trade Show Capital Brings Out Best in IMEX

Premier global meetings and events convention at home in Las Vegas

It’s a match made in meetings heaven. As Las Vegas, the trade show capital of the world, continues to produce record-breaking numbers, the sixth annual IMEX America will take it over Oct. 18−20.

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) reported in July that it had already seen a 12 percent increase in meeting attendance for the first half of 2016. That good news came on the heels of 2015 when Las Vegas established record-breaking numbers with nearly 22,000 meetings, which accounted for 5.9 million delegates and an economic impact of $9.3 billion.

“Business really does get done in Las Vegas,” says Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO of LVCVA.

To say that Las Vegas brings out the best in IMEX America is an understatement. The city brings out the best in every event it hosts.

CES, the annual Consumer Technology Association trade show in January, used three meeting campuses for the record 2.47 million sq. ft. of exhibition space needed for its 2016 event. The show drew 3,600 exhibitors, with an all-time high of 170,000 attendees.

At Sands Expo Center, the same venue used for IMEX America, the International Security Conference & Exposition in April experienced record-breaking totals, drawing nearly 30,000 security industry professionals and 1,072 exhibiting companies and brands.

Seeing Las Vegas is selling Las Vegas, according to Ralenkotter, which is why IMEX America is such a coveted event.

“Hosting IMEX America allows us to showcase the destination,” Ralenkotter says. “It’s critical for us to keep Las Vegas top of mind. The business negotiations that take place at this show result in millions of dollars in future business to the destination. It’s our goal to bring as much of that business to Las Vegas as we can.”

IMEX America Numbers Climb

In 2015, IMEX America experienced all-time highs, with 10,732 total participants from 150 countries. There were 3,030 hosted buyers from 54 countries who engaged in 57,000 one-on-one appointments; overall, there were 66,700 business appointments.

“The North American audience has clearly taken to the IMEX America business model with great vigor,” says Ray Bloom, chairman and founder of IMEX Group.

Bloom established an exemplary model for his U.S. trade show, launching IMEX in Frankfurt in 2002. The first IMEX America took place in 2011 and has increased participation more than 50 percent in five years.

“We are excited to see the growth IMEX America has experienced, especially with international attendees,” Ralenkotter says. “It is a perfect illustration of Las Vegas as a global business center.”

In its fifth installment, IMEX America was dominated by North American representation, with 74 percent of the hosted buyers coming from the United States and Canada. The notoriety of Bloom’s IMEX show in Germany helped fuel a 6 percent increase in exhibitors last year, with 49 percent coming from countries other than the United States.

International influence at IMEX America is certainly a draw for hosted buyers. Not only is it good business, helping U.S. meeting planners get to know global suppliers, but international exhibitors also bring a large measure of fun to the trade show floor.

For example, Colombia brewed 2,850 cups of coffee for visitors to its booth at the 2015 show. Puerto Rico served up rum punch and mojitos. The France exhibition area featured a Foosball table as a salute to soccer, and the Canada exhibition section had TVs tuned into the Major League Baseball playoff games involving the Toronto Blue Jays.

Meetings Community Steps Up

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Las Vegas is indeed an ideal host for IMEX America, with state-of-the-art meeting facilities and event venues, and lodging for every budget.

“Our partners play a vital role in the show’s success,” Bloom says. “We can’t do it alone, so I commend the efforts of all the organizations and individuals who also went to extraordinary lengths and who gave their very best.”

IMEX America takes full advantage of Las Vegas’ event spaces. Among the most popular parties every year is the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Foundation Rendezvous. The 2015 event drew 2,100 to Drai’s Beach Club and Nightclub atop The Cromwell hotel’s rooftop. The event was such a success that MPI will use the same venue for its annual fundraiser Wednesday, Oct. 19, from 10 p.m.−1 a.m.

Also during IMEX America 2015, Caesars Entertainment treated a group of VIPs to an Elton John concert at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.

When you have so many options and venues, it’s easy to see why conventions and conferences gather in Las Vegas and often return annually.

Trade Show Pillars

According to Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group and Bloom’s daughter, there are three pillars that contribute to the trade show’s success:

Refining and improving the process of doing business
Creating valuable education opportunities
Making important connections

“We understand the significance and the balance that each of these three pillars holds for both our buyers and our suppliers, and aim to make their week at IMEX America their most valuable week of the year,” Bauer says.

“We are particularly pleased this year to be using the latest technology solutions available to facilitate peer-to-peer connections and believe that this will bring an important added benefit to our buyers,” she adds. “As always, we are very much looking forward to hosting the meetings world to Las Vegas this fall.”


Las Vegas Meetings Snapshot: 2015 Numbers

Nearly 22,000 meetings
5.9 million delegates
$9.3 billion impact to local economy
$2.7 billion in local salaries and wages supported
Supports 66,500 jobs


For more on IMEX America 2016, click here.
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