In his remarks at the show’s closing press conference Bloom stated that IMEX 2014 had been the largest edition of the meetings, incentive travel and events industry trade show in its 12 year history. Feedback from exhibitors about the many refinements made to the show’s unique online appointment system, the expanded education programme, the specialised pre-show events and the show’s App, had been very positive, all resulting in more business being conducted.
Amongst an overall visitor total of nearly 9000 at IMEX this year just under 4000 were hosted buyers from 77 countries. Around one third of these hosted buyers came from long haul markets particularly Brazil, Russia, China, India and Mexico together with North America and the Middle East. Long haul buyers attend IMEX for three full days. These buyers also frequently take part in fam trips which are organised by exhibitors either before or after the show.
He also explained that IMEX’s preshow corporate buyer event, Exclusively Corporate @IMEX, has gone from strength to strength and was a great addition to the show’s hosted buyer programme.
Ray Bloom, Chairman, IMEX, said; “80 corporate buyers and senior corporate executives from 21 countries attended this year and they brought a combined annual meetings and events spend of $180 million to the show. Feedback from these buyers was excellent. We know they feel more isolated than any other buying group in the industry so the fact that we bring them all together for this one day of private networking and education is much appreciated, and we are grateful to the Villa Kennedy for the wonderful setting and support it provides.”.
Of the 65,000 appointments that took place over the past three days between buyers and exhibitors, Bloom explained that 53,000 represented one to one appointments and ‘stand presentations’. This new type of appointment had provided an important third appointment type (in addition to individual and pre-booked group appointments) which allows individual buyers to join a small group on an exhibitor’s stand for a fact-finding presentation.
“The new stand presentations have gone down extremely well on both sides and it’s noticeable that all types of exhibitors, no matter how mature their markets, have made good use of them. They allow buyers to find out more about a destination or supplier without the formality of a one to one appointment,” he said.The introduction of new hosted buyer profiles, which give buyers the power to create five event descriptions which they can send to exhibitors prior to an appointment had also been very well received. 19% of all buyers had used the new profile tool. Bloom described this innovation, together with the new stand presentations, as a “driver for more business in the future”.
In an update on exhibitor growth, Bloom said 64 new stands had joined the show in 2014 and 30% of returning exhibitors had increased the size of their stands compared to last year.
The new IMEX App has had a positive impact on industry professionals’ experience of the show. The number of downloads of the new enterprise app, which was developed in partnership with Quickmobile, were slightly higher than last year although usage had leapt by 600%. Bloom described this endorsement of the added value and usability of the app as very satisfying. “What we have here is effectively seven apps in one,” he said.
Bloom closed by expressing his satisfaction at the continuing growth and authority of the IMEX Politicians Forum which was attended for the first time by Mr Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the United Nations Specialized Agency for Tourism and Mr David Scowsill, President & Chief Executive Officer of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
“After many months of dialogue with the UNWTO, the WTTC and JMIC, the meeting between these organisations secured agreement to collaborate on three areas of common interest in the future. News of this meeting will be released in the coming weeks,” he concluded.