Home » MICE Events » [IMEX 2013] The Key Development Strategies of the World’s Leading MICE Event, IMEX

[IMEX 2013] The Key Development Strategies of the World’s Leading MICE Event, IMEX

The Key Development Strategies of the World’s Leading MICE Event, IMEX


IMEX, the Worldwide Exhibition for Incentives travel, Meeting & Events, is one of the most influential events in the global MICE industry. Every year, industry professionals ranging from Convention Bureaus, Professional Convention Organizers, Incentive Houses, Event Planners, Destination Management Companies to Suppliers from all over the world get together in Frankfurt, Germany to network, learn and prosper. The Global MICE Insight carried out an interview with Ray Bloom, the President of IMEX, to examine the key growth strategies of the event and gain insight into developing an innovative and prominent event. 



GMI: Please introduce the IMEX group and its overall business strategy to our readers.


The IMEX Group organizes two tradeshows annually – IMEX in Frankfurt which takes place each Spring and IMEX America in Las Vegas, which takes place in the October. The foundation of both shows is to produce platforms that create business opportunities for meetings, incentive travel and events (MICE) professionals across the world. At the same time, we operate a partnership approach to our business, which allows us to work in partnership with all of the major trade associations and key industry bodies across the world. Through this approach we are able to bring together the worldwide MICE industries twice a year for business; but importantly, also for inspiration, learning and networking.



GMI: What is the target market segment of IMEX and IMEX America respectively?


Around 150 Countries are represented by exhibitors at both shows including National and Regional Tourist offices, Convention Bureaus, Hotel Groups, Destination Management Companies, Professional Congress Organisers, transportation providers, technology providers, etc. At IMEX in Frankfurt 75% of the buyers attending originate from Europe with 25% from the rest of the world including China, Russia, the USA and Latin America.

At IMEX America the show targets the North American market very strongly and here approximately 80% of the buyers originate from North America with the remainder attending from the global market.



GMI: What are the primary business strategies which have led the IMEX shows to the success?


The foundation for the IMEX shows is the hosted buyer programme where we, the organizers, fund the attendance for hosted buyers from across the world, by paying for their flights, hotel accommodation and ground transportation. At IMEX in Frankfurt, just under 4,000 hosted buyers attend, whilst in America over 2,500 are expected to attend this October. Hosted buyers are invited and pre-qualified by intermediaries who include many of the leading hotel groups, trade publications, industry associations and representation companies.

The hosted buyer programme ensures that each of the shows has a strong business focus, with buyers required to make business appointments with exhibitors of their choice. The unique technology solutions which we have developed is also at the heart of the success of the show, with 53,000 appointments made prior to IMEX in Frankfurt this year by buyers via the online system; and 40,000 expected to be made prior to IMEX America this October.

Apart from the hosted buyer programme, we also run comprehensive direct marketing campaigns for each show, including postal and email campaigns, year-round industry sponsorships and social media campaigns. As a result, around 5,000 non-hosted trade visitors attend IMEX in Frankfurt, whilst just under 2,000 attend IMEX America.



GMI: Based on what criteria were Frankfurt and Las Vegas chosen for the IMEX shows? Does the IMEX group collaborate with the aforementioned destinations to optimize the added value of the show on behalf of the stakeholders? If so, how?


Frankfurt was chosen as a destination for several reasons – Germany has the largest outbound MICE market in Europe, the Rhine-Main region of Germany is the third largest economic area in Europe, Frankfurt has one of the world’s greatest exhibition centres (Messe Frankfurt), the largest airport in continental Europe and excellent transportation links by road and rail. IMEX’s Strategic Partner is the GCB German Convention Bureau with whom we undertake joint marketing initiatives including a dedicated German language education programme. Lufthansa is the official carrier for the show allowing us over 80 gateways with direct links into the city.

For IMEX America, Las Vegas is the predominant meetings and conventions destination in the United States and a great attraction for MICE industry professionals from across the United States and the world. The Sands Expo, where IMEX America is held, forms part of The Venetian®| The Palazzo® Hotel complex which offers over 7,000 luxury suites, plus outstanding restaurants, recreation and leisure services. The facilities within both the City and the hotel and convention complex, the ease of transport and other hotel stock in the City and the support of the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority (LVCVA) all makes Las Vegas an outstanding destination to host IMEX America.



GMI: What are the challenges and opportunities that the organization has faced in this competitive, unexpected time?


The meetings industry is a very important driver of both knowledge economies and economic growth and destinations from around the world are constantly looking to develop business opportunities. The economic impact study, conducted in the USA in 2011, showed that the value of the meetings industry to the US economy was almost US$ 1 trillion –more even than the automotive industry. Similar economic impact studies in destinations around the world have proved the true and significant value of our industry to destinations.

As a result of the importance of this sector and the ability of IMEX to provide high quality buyers and business opportunities at the shows; demand to participate from around the world has continued to be very strong, despite the financial volatility that has affected some countries.

As we move towards the 3rd IMEX America demand to participate has significantly outpaced what was originally expected. The most recent survey that IMEX has conducted showed that at IMEX America 2012 the business conducted either at the show or anticipated over the following 12 months was over US $3 billion.



GMI: How do you develop the program and the content of the IMEX shows? Do you work with any sort of sponsors and/or partners when initiating new programs?


The educational programmes at each show are delivered by a mix of the industry associations, partners and by IMEX itself. By working in partnership with the industry associations, IMEX is able to provide specialist education and training programmes to every sector of the industry creating added value for all. At IMEX America, for example, our Strategic Partner and Premier educational provider – Meeting Professionals International (MPI) – powers Smart Monday – a full day of cutting edge education which takes place the day prior to the opening of the show.

This is free for both buyers and suppliers and as well as featuring a strong programme by MPI, it also includes education from partners including GMIC, Site, ISES, HSMAI, PCMA, ICCA, IAEE and ASAE.

In addition, we organize specialist education for association meeting planners and corporate meeting planners within each show; plus we offer a comprehensive variety of education in short sessions on the show floor. Each show provides such education in tracks on various ‘hubs’ on the show floor, including the Inspiration Centre, Research Pod, Sustainability Hub, Technology Hub and Networking Hub.

A very important educational initiative that we run throughout the year is the Future Leaders Forum, which aims to encourage the best and brightest students to enter the industry. This is run in 15 locations around the world, including the IMEX shows and also including an event in South Korea.

We also run a Politicians Forum at IMEX in Frankfurt in order to bring the industry together with both national and local politicians – show them the industry at work, discuss the value of the industry and explain how the industry and politicians can work more effectively together for mutual benefit. This programme is now being advanced for IMEX America in the form of a new Policymakers Event.



GMI: How would you rate the level of consumer satisfaction for the IMEX shows? Have there been any chances in consumer perceptions of the shows since the inception?


Customer care has always been our priority for everybody participating at IMEX shows. The hosted buyer programme has proved to be very popular with top buyers from all over the world. As an example, an exit survey from the last IMEX in Frankfurt showed that 99% of hosted buyers would recommend IMEX to a colleague and 93% were either very or completely satisfied with their experience.



GMI: What is IMEX’s future plan?


It is our intention to continue to expand the business opportunities at each of our shows through the continued growth and development of our hosted buyer programme, the volume of appointments being made and the amount of business being generated.

At the same time, we will continue to invest in our educational programmes and market-leading initiatives, such as the Politicians Forum and Future Leaders Forum, to ensure that we are constantly supporting the continued development of the industry.




Ray Bloom is the chairman and founder of the IMEX Group, which organises worldwide exhibitions for the incentive travel, meetings and events industry in Europe and the USA. The award-winning IMEX in Frankfurt exhibition takes place at Messe Frankfurt, Germany, every May.

The inaugural IMEX America took place at the Las Vegas Sands Expo in October 2011 and will continue to take place each October in Las Vegas.

Ray Bloom has been a successful entrepreneur for many years. He commenced his career in the motor industry where his family’s Volkswagen Audi dealership won the Diamond Pin Award (the highest Volkswagen Award given to dealerships worldwide).

 He subsequently entered the hotel industry and then the exhibition industry where he built up EIBTM (European and Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition), which was sold to Reed Exhibitions in 1997. In addition, Bloom built up the leading sales and promotion exhibition, Incentive World (London), which was also sold to Reed Exhibitions in 2000.

Whilst founding and developing what have become the leading trade shows in the meetings and incentive travel sector, Bloom also became heavily involved in numerous industry associations and has been recognised in a variety of ways.

These include being inducted into the CIC (Convention Industry Council) Hall of Leaders (1991); being awarded UK Personality of the Year by Meetings & Incentive Travel Magazine (1993); recipient of the ICCA (International Congress and Conventions Association) Presidents Award (1997) and being inducted into the WATA (World Association of Travel Agencies) Hall of Fame in 2000.

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