Carina Bauer, CEO IMEX Group, talks to Sydney PauldenA talk with Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Frankfurt, confirms that this is much more than an exhibition. Taking place May 19-21 May, she sees it as an essential experience at the heart of the modern MICE industry.
MICE is an unusual business sector in that it is very important to virtually every country in the world, no matter how big or how small, whether highly developed or just emerging. All are destinations that can offer something unique to event organisers. What is needed is expertise in identifying what a country has to offer and in providing the service and hospitality to make each event a success.
‘That is why’, says Carina, ‘that IMEX Frankfurt is growing from many points of view.
‘We are gaining new exhibitors and our established exhibitors are taking bigger spaces. This applies globally, not just to emerging markets or not just to Asia, but from all parts of the world. And not just in terms of destinations and venues, but also on the technological side and services.’
This has been evident even during the severe worldwide recession of recent years. ‘Suppliers to the MICE sector of every kind have been looking for new clients and, at the same time, jealous of protecting their market share. They have been very much aware that they have had to have a presence.’
Of course, Carina acknowledges that the shortage of funds in many areas, particularly the Eurozone, had some effect.
‘People continued to exhibit, but cutbacks could be seen, mainly’, she explains, ‘in the extras. Perhaps in more economical stand designs and décor; less peripheral activities on and off the floor of the show.’
Then, significantly, she adds: ‘But last year and even more so this year, those extras came back. We have noticed a lot more activity in networking and social activities being organised to coincide with IMEX 2015’.
She makes the key point that far from being an extra expense, participation at the exhibition is a very cost-effective way of doing business for buyers and suppliers.
‘By arranging to meet so many people from so many different locations, all in one place in a few days, a huge amount of time and expense can be saved. A face-to-face discussion at IMEX can serve you much better than scores of emails and a special journey to see one supplier or one client in a distant office.’ Carina emphasises how much is constantly being done to make the most of the time that suppliers and buyers spend at IMEX.
‘Because the show has grown, everyone says that the three days are essential. For new hosted buyers, we arrange familiarisation tours of the exhibition so that they can then find their way round and make the most of the opportunities in the time available. We can theme the tours, so that they can concentrate, say, on technology or sustainability. Members of the IMEX staff take about 15 people around at a time.
‘We now, also, set up the group stand visits to take place between 11am and 4pm. This leaves time early in the day and later in the afternoon for buyers to do their own things, make their own appointments and to simply come across new contacts and start new business relationships.’
IMEX normally provides two- or three-day stays for Hosted Buyers, but Carina says that this can be stretched if people from the more distant markets need more time. An innovation this year is Creative Thursday.
‘This is the direct result of customer feedback’, says Carina. ‘Within the free education programme at the show, there will be sessions on the third day devoted to ideas on making events more creative. IMEX’, she concludes, ‘is constantly evolving year after year and most of the innovations come from ideas put forward by exhibitors and buyers. We ask what they would like to have and we take action on their ideas’.
For full details for exhibitors, visitors and Hosted Buyers, visit: www.imex-frankfurt.com/