Carina Bauer is the CEO of the IMEX exhibitions. Carina has grown up as an exhibition organiser and so if she is optimistic, we can all feel a little more relaxed.
One doesn’t have to think for long to remind oneself of the traumas that the multi-national events sector has had to face during the past decade, from financial crises and Eurozone pitfalls to terrorist threats.
But Carina says: ‘We are a resilient industry and the members have learnt to live with things and to overcome problems. Everyone is now convinced that it is essential to meet face to face at conferences and exhibitions. Together we can advance strategic objectives.
‘At this moment the industry is showing cautious optimism. People are reporting healthy event bookings for the future. IMEX is bursting at the seams in its halls at the Frankfurter Messe. There are stands for all the major players from around the world, with some previous exhibitors who have returned after an absence and some new destinations.
‘It is now established that events business is very desirable for all kinds of destinations,’ she continues. ‘Mass tourism can be seen to have its drawbacks. It can have a damaging impact on the attractions of a country and is therefore not as sustainable as incentives and conferences.
‘Delegates’, she emphasises, ‘bring more disposable funds to spend within the locality and therefore more people benefit at more levels within the host communities.’
Carina identifies a very positive trend that results in a two-way exchange of benefits between hosts and visitors. ‘Destinations are making much greater use of expertise that has developed in their territories. Conferences are organised on those topics and so key speakers in the field of medicine or science or engineering can take part from the locality and study trips can be integrated into an agenda. The delegates are there to learn but at the same time the destinations learn from the delegates. These events attract notable experts in these topics from around the world, benefiting the local industries with personal contacts for the future.’
Carina reminds me: ‘There will be 15,000 event professionals busy at IMEX Frankfurt in one way or another and so everyone can benefit from networking, business discussions and the sharing of ideas. IMEX has been introducing more and more educational sessions. IMEX Frankfurt takes place from Tuesday 16th to Thursday 18th May 2017. However, Monday 15th May is an Education Day. The whole day will be dedicated to free sessions on topics such as delivering ROI, creative event formats, technology, security and emerging destinations and trends. As this is the day when the stands are being erected in the halls, there will be an opportunity for a different set of people to attend sessions if they wish. Suppliers as well as buyers can join in’.
Monday will also see the Association Day annual event, which will deal with the nitty gritty of association management. ‘There will be peer to peer discussion and networking on topics such as understanding why members leave an association and how to get them to stay’.
Women have for long played a very big part in all aspects of the events sector. ‘We recognise this’, says Carina, ‘and so we carried out a survey on International Women’s Day, 8th March, to look into the progress women have made and their current status and the results will be presented in Frankfurt in May.
‘This is in line with our determination to contribute to education and greater knowledge of the sector as a whole. This year we have selected “Purposeful Meetings” to be the IMEX Talking Point. This strategy illustrates the company’s mission to unite and advance the meetings industry, helping to make powerful connections with the right people for them’.
After a discussion with Carina, one can understand the two-way benefit at work in the sector. IMEX grows as a result of the increasing interest in events business. However, at the same time, IMEX plays a big part in promoting the sector’s growth globally.