Ray Bloom, founder and chairman of IMEX Group, started IMEX America in 2011. Since then, the event has steadily built its legacy and sometimes is referred to as “the Super Bowl” of meetings industry events. Bloom provided a look back at how IMEX has developed and the reasons for its success.
Have IMEX America and IMEX Frankfurt become what you originally envisioned?
They are even more than we could have envisioned. The enthusiasm, passion and energy people bring to the IMEX shows is incredible. For us, it is amazing to help provide a global platform for this and to be a part of it!
What do you hope 2018 IMEX America will achieve?
Great business, great spirit and great innovation.
How does IMEX America differ from other meetings industry events?
IMEX America and IMEX in Frankfurt bring together—in one place—the entire industry from every sector and corner of the world, working together to make the show a success. We are also unique in that IMEX America offers a large number of co-located events, the largest hosted buyer program in the industry, an absolute focus on business and an extensive, free education program.
How have IMEX America events changed over the years?
IMEX America has really grown enormously over the years. In terms of sheer size, the number of exhibitors as well as hosted buyers from North America and around the world has continued to expand, and along with that that the size of the show floor itself. The education program has also become larger and richer at the same time—on and off the floor—and the number of initiatives we run around the show generally has increased. For example, our sustainability targets, goals and efforts have steadily grown year-on-year, our wellness efforts have really caught on and our community efforts in Las Vegas and beyond have always been a big passion of ours and our attendees.
How does IMEX America stay relevant?
We do this by taking part in a lot of events and happenings around the world, by being involved in all sorts of industry efforts and initiatives, and by staying in close touch with thought leaders, buyers, planners, associations, destinations, partners service and tech providers to get a pulse of things.
Key Planning Insights from IMEX America
Bloom says that the IMEX Group has learned a lot over the years from planning and organizing IMEX America events and continues to do so. He singles out a few lessons learned that apply to event planning in general.
Always keep trying new things: People want and need to get new ideas and see how new things could work in practice in their own meetings in a low-risk environment like IMEX.
Ask for, really listen to and act on, feedback: Pay attention to feedback from exhibitors, buyers, attendees, the IMEX team, industry thought leaders and business leaders beyond our industry.
Keep your ear to the ground: In our industry, business as a whole and beyond, we should be helping people make sense of the trends out there and pointing out what’s coming next.
Stay focused on putting on a show that the industry can be proud of: We need to really deliver ROI and inspiration for all.
Tap into the collective power and energy of others: This is not a show IMEX pulls off on its own. It takes great amounts of partnership and collaboration and idea exchange across and with the industry, and that makes it all the stronger and a better experience.