‘Business tourism is vital to so many global destinations’, Carina Bauer, IMEX CEO, tells Sydney PauldenI look forward to my IMEX Frankfurt preview chat with Carina Bauer, because, as CEO of the exhibition, she is very closely in touch with what is happening in the MICE sector worldwide. She has the broad, global view as well as a grasp of the detail.
The Frankfurt show is likely to be bigger this year than last. ‘There has been a healthy demand for exhibition space’, Carina reports. ‘This is from new exhibitors and also existing exhibitors looking to expand their presence.‘
With the array of problems that have been troubling the travel industry in recent times, it was good to hear from Carina that the sector is still strong and optimistic.
She puts forward the view that tourism is essential to the economies of most countries in all parts of the world, so the governments maintain their strategies regardless of temporary setbacks.
There are unfortunately terrorist outrages, internal and external conflicts or natural disasters such as volcanoes and earthquakes. But’, Carina maintains, ‘destinations have to think long-term and they cannot pop into and out of the MICE markets. They work through their strategic plans and avoid being diverted from them by these tragic incidents.’
Carina is also convinced that group travel business and events repay the investment in the sector in more ways than one.
‘MICE attracts further investment’, she continues. ‘Every success in this field adds to the destination’s experience and knowhow and widens the number of people who can make a contribution to future events.
‘We see how over the years the politicians in different areas of the world have put an emphasis on business tourism and how that has raised the status of their region globally.’
It mustn’t be forgotten that IMEX Frankfurt is taking place earlier this year. It is open 19-21 April 2016.
‘We were obliged to make the change for this year only’, says Carina, ‘but it will be back to a May date in 2017. Obviously there is a knock-on effect when a regular event in the calendar has to make a change, but people have made adjustments and it seems to be on track and going smoothly now.’
There is also an IMEX America and the two shows are able to benefit from the experiences of each.
‘In Frankfurt this year’, says Carina, ‘we are introducing something that was well received at the show in Las Vegas. We are ensuring that group appointments will not be made before 11am or after 4pm. There will not be more than three group appointments in a day and more likely only two.
‘This means that visitors can confidently make their own arrangements prior to 11 and after 4, knowing in advance that there will not be a clash. ‘We have also introduced the offer this year for Hosted Buyers to opt for a second overnight of hospitality.’
A growing function of IMEX is education. ‘We see this’, comments Carina, ‘as contributing to the success of the companies that employ the event organisers, but we also think it is important for individuals to develop their skills and their careers. We want to see people keeping their minds and their ambitions active.
‘We are always on the look-out for people with new and interesting ideas who can put them over effectively in a fairly short time. A good example is Dr Kaihan Krippendorff.’
He is a renowned business strategist, consultant and best-selling author. He will lead an interactive session entitled: ‘The Outthinker Playbook – Devising Disruptive Strategies’. It will examine a new generation of strategists who are emerging as ‘outthinkers’ in order to keep ahead of the game and give their business a competitive advantage.
The session is under the umbrella of the PCMA Business School, the Professional Convention Management Association in the USA and IMEX Frankfurt is bringing it to Europe for the first time.
‘Visitors to IMEX Frankfurt are invited to attend free of charge’, explains Carina, ‘so long as they are pre-registered. We expect a very high demand for seats.’