A chat with Carina Bauer emphasises just how far the events sector has become a significant part of global industry. It is employing more and more people and giving an increasing number of destinations the opportunity to earn revenue and endow their local populations with valuable skills.
Carina is the CEO of the IMEX Exhibitions, IMEX Frankfurt, scheduled for 21-23 May 2019, and IMEX America, in Las Vegas from 10-12 September 2019. The more I listened to Carina, the more I felt that the very word ‘Exhibition’ was inadequate to describe what is now being offered. It implies a static experience, where people go to look at exhibits, whereas the IMEX shows are big active events in their own right.
‘MICE professionals from around the world will go to Frankfurt to meet, discuss and mingle with executives from 3,500 companies on 400 booths’, she says. ‘Prior to the three days of the show, Tuesday to Thursday, the 20th May will be EduMonday, when around 1,000 visitors will take part in workshops, seminars and round-table discussions to learn about the latest techniques, aids and creative ideas developing in the events sector’. Carina points out that this gives an opportunity for getting updated even to those who for the following days will be busy hosting visitors to their stands and might otherwise not be able to attend educational sessions.
All four days will be permeated by this year’s theme at Frankfurt: Imagination. ‘We are focussing’, she emphasises, ‘on making a visit to IMEX Frankfurt a uniquely human experience. We aim to ensure,’ she says enthusiastically, ‘that everyone leaves the show inspired with new ideas for their future events.’ It is obvious that, where enthusiasm is concerned, she leads the way!
In the huge Frankfurter Messe conference centre Hall 9 will again this year be known as the Discovery Zone. Carina promises there will be ‘an excitement and a buzz around a range of activities in keeping with the theme of Imagination’.
The IMEX shows have been pioneers in promoting the sense of sustainability throughout the events sector. ‘We are constantly striving’, says Carina, ‘to improve recycling, avoid waste and honour the environment’. And she has lots of instances to illustrate her point.
In Las Vegas, for example, any unopened food supplies at the end of the show are distributed to organisations serving people in need. Any opened but unused food and leftovers are collected for animal feed and delivered to local farms.
Large numbers of plastic bottles have been replaced by setting up increasing numbers of Water Stations, where everyone can refill their own glasses and jugs. The temporary floor coverings for the events are made of material that can be recycled, so that it doesn’t end up as landfill.
Almost as a matter of course Carina mentions: ‘We have now been able to provide all electric power to IMEX in Frankfurt from renewable wind and solar sources and no longer get supplies from Germany’s nuclear generators’. Apparently, she explains, at first IMEX paid a higher price for its own cleaner electric for lighting and air-conditioning, but gave the exhibitors the option of using the less expensive supply, but now all the supplies are green.
I asked Carina how these socially responsible initiatives come to be put forward, considered and then adopted – and her explanation, I feel, could be a guide for others to follow.
‘All the operational aspects for the IMEX events’, she told me, ‘are handled by seven main specialist teams. Representatives from each of these teams sit in a separate service group we call the Green Squad. This has regular meetings to discuss new ways of cutting waste, recycling and so on. When something is agreed, the details are carried back to each of the operational teams and the new ideas are put into operation.’
Many of the world’s less developed and most beautiful territories are aiming to benefit from their natural resources, especially in the incentive travel sector. The problem, however, is that this very development can have an adverse impact on what visiting groups come to enjoy. Responsibility for the planet becomes a major factor in the growth of this sector – and it seems as if IMEX, under Carina Bauer’s leadership, is setting a very good example.