IMEX America 2022 was the big comeback the MICE industry has been waiting for, said Roy Bloom, chairman, IMEX Group, at the closing press conference for the show, which ran October 11-13, 2022, at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Bloom reported that the show’s 11th edition welcomed 4,000 buyers, 3,300 of whom attended on the show’s hosted buyer program. In addition, the show was 45% bigger than the 2021 edition, growth he attributed to the easing of travel restrictions plus 40% of returning exhibitors taking more space.
“The size of this year’s show is obviously a function of many in the industry being able to travel and plan meetings again and to do so with certainty,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming and, although we produced a great show last year, this week felt like the big comeback we’ve all been waiting for. That’s not to deny that challenges remain. Equally, it seems buyers are being more discerning. We’ve heard they’re preparing RFPs in more detail and being more rigorous in their selection criteria.”
Bloom explained that exhibitors had reported long pipelines, with business being placed as far out as 2028. On the last day of the show, Tourism Ireland announced they’d confirmed business to the value of €10 million during the show, while Destination DC landed a large event for the American Distilling Association in 2026.
Bloom also shared that the show had welcomed a large group of faculty and students from around the world. “We’re not just talking about buyers and suppliers from all corners of the world. Hundreds of students, our future leaders, have been here, learning and experiencing the industry first-hand and seeing it in full colour. And IMEX together with IAEE invite faculty here too, delivering a program tailored specifically for them.”
Sustainability, belonging and freedom of choice
In addition to industry’s comeback, some of the big themes and issues explored in the show’s education sessions and discussed in the aisles included: service levels; contracts; wellbeing and mental health; the pros and cons of distributed workforces; DEI+B (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging); and sustainability, both personal and environmental.
Carina Bauer, IMEX Group CEO, explained that, aside from being awarded MeetGreen’s Visionary status and Trade Show Executive’s Grand Award for Most Commendable Green Initiatives for the 2021 show, IMEX America has achieved the Events Industry Council’s Sustainable Event Standards Platinum Certification.
“The juddering, global halt of the pandemic may be behind us, but its lessons live on. And, having talked about disruption as a tool for business transformation for so long, we’re now seeing what that really means,” she said. “Many of these lessons are positive, innovative and long overdue. From our A Voice for All program on Smart Monday, to Google Experience Institute’s NEU Project, we’re all invited to understand that events, and event designs, have excluded too many people for too long.
“Two concepts I take from this week are belonging and freedom of choice. The first is about making sure everyone feels welcomed – that they genuinely belong at our events and that our designs include them. The second is a call for planners to let go. To break free from over-scheduling and a ‘more is more’ approach. We need to put people first, give them more choice and pay more attention to what makes us all human. At its most basic, this means prioritizing healthy nutritious food, clean water, time for rest, space for unscheduled connection and plenty of daylight. Google’s Megan Henshall put it best: ‘Not only does the data show that belonging is good for business, but as designers we also need to do a better job of not asking people to leave their lived experience at the doors when they come to our events.'”
IMEX America 2023 runs from Monday, October 16, 2023 (Smart Monday) to Thursday, October 19, 2023.