What is the secret behind IMEX’s success?

This year the fifth IMEX America will take place in Las Vegas. To mark this milestone we spoke with Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group, to gain insight into what’s behind the strong performance of the show, and what’s in store for this year and beyond.

SM: You’re currently creating the fifth IMEX America. Congratulations. The show has been strong and growing in popularity from the very first year, in 2011. What’s IMEX’s secret to success?

Carina Bauer: Thank you. At the heart of IMEX America is our focus on delivering outstanding business opportunities for buyers and exhibitors across North America and around the world. We concentrate on bringing together the whole meetings industry to do business, network and learn in a fun but really business-efficient environment.

What makes it work is the committed presence of thousands of U.S. and global exhibitors, senior buyers and attendees. In addition, high-level partnerships with all the leading trade associations are very important in enabling us to bring together all sectors of the industry and offer best-in-class education. All of these combine to provide a valuable IMEX experience and a successful event.

SM: What are some specifics that you think make IMEX America so appealing to the entire industry?

Carina Bauer: IMEX America is focused around delivering business, networking and education. There are several elements of the show that help to deliver these great benefits.

Firstly, our large-scale hosted buyer program ensures that the top meeting industry buyers attend the show from North America and around the world. This, in turn, means that the most senior executives on the supplier side also attend. With buyers having control of more than 80 percent of their schedule at the show, the program is one of the most flexible in the industry, giving top buyers the opportunity to preschedule meetings with exhibitors of their choice, as well as take part in prearranged booth presentations. This makes the show extremely time-effective for these busy executives.

Secondly, our strong partnerships with the industry trade associations are extremely important in bringing together all the diverse sectors of the meetings industry—offering their memberships colocated educational and networking events that ensure that people are brought together with their peers. Among the many networking events organized at the show are the MPI Foundation Rendezvous, Site Nite North America, CIC Hall of Leaders and the CEIR Golf Tournament.

Important, too, are the educational opportunities on offer from both ourselves, IMEX and our industry partners. MPI, as our strategic partner and premier educational provider, provides four early morning keynotes as well as powering Smart Mondaya full day of education on the day prior to the showoffering up to 40 sessions and including Association Focus, PCMA Business School, deep-dives, venue tours and certification programs. Once the show opens we offer education in a variety of formats, lengths and learning styles, with precertified education credits and sessions split into 10 tracks.

Together, the variety of networking and educational offerings from across the industry, combined with a guarantee of top business opportunities, means that attending the show is a highly effective use of everyone’s time, as well as being enjoyable!

SM: What is new for IMEX America 2015?

Carina Bauer: At IMEX America 2015, there will be several new features to experience.

We look forward to welcoming many new hosted buyers from across the United States and around the world, with demand from Asia and Latin America particularly high this year.

The choice for buyers will also be even greater. Adding to the 2,900 exhibitors from 150-plus countries, there will be more than 60 new booths including Cincinnati USA, Cuba Travel Services, IfOnly, Hungary, Juneau CVB, Montage Hotels & Resorts, Taiwan and more, bringing many more destinations and venues to the show. Additionally around 50 established IMEX exhibitors have expanded their booths—including the Louisville CVB, Maui Jim, Mexico, Thailand, Hilton and Hyatt to name a few.

This year’s education tracks are searchable by level of industry experience with sessions designed for those with up to three years experience or more than eight years in the industry. And there is a great lineup of daily MPI keynotes scheduled including Lee Papa on mindfulness, Tim David on building human connections, John Tickell talking about Gen Y marketing and management, and Patrick Henry on becoming memorable by customers. Wellness will also be a new education and engagement theme at the show, including a meditation room.

Opening hours and group appointment timings are being changed to give our hosted buyers more time to explore the show floor, experience the extensive education program and schedule their own appointments.

SM: Sounds like we’re in for a phenomenal event. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us.

Carina Bauer: My pleasure, thank you.