IMEX America Sets Records and Excites Attendees- Show 242

“The trouble with doing somthing right the first time is tha nobody appreciates how difficult it was.”– Walt West


IMEX America sets records and excites attendees in 2012 in Las Vegas.  Mike McAllen and Jon Trask talk about what they saw and experienced on the show floor.  The show broke records for the size and attendees.  Mike and Jons new company launched at the conference and found the Hosted Buyer system really worked well.  IMEX Group Chairman Ray Bloom said in the IMEX closing press conference explained that the show hosted 2,400 hosted buyers, up 400 from last year, its first year.  The Sands Expo is getting started on a multimillion-dollar improvement program to be completed before IMEX comes back, October 15–17, 2013. Future show dates are October 14–16, 2014, and October 13–15, 2015.

What’s done is done.– William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Transcripts coming:

Mike:                          Welcome back to the Meetings Podcast. This is Mike McAllen from Grass Shack Events and Media. And I am with Jon Trask from Grass Shack Events and Media. Hi, Jon.

Jon:                           Hello there.

Mike:                          So we are both back from the IMEX America Show in Las Vegas last week.

Jon:                           Back and trying to recover.

Mike:                          Yeah, it was pretty exhausting, pretty fantastic show though. Overall I really had a fantastic time.

Jon:                           I would agree. I would say too having gone last year, I could definitely see some things that I thought were improved. So I did after having talked to Carina in the sort of off season, and then now seeing it come back in action, I do feel like they were really taking steps to make the show work better overall. And so there were a lot of things about it that I did like. A couple of things that I still didn’t but overall, I thought it was a great experience.

Mike:                          So a little bit of background about what happened, I kind of did a little search on how many people were there, that kind of thing. They had 2004 hosted buyers, an increase of 20% to last year’s. They also had 1700 meeting professionals attend on their own which is a lot. I met a lot of those there which is interesting.

So that was a big increase. They basically had 4,000 plus attendees they think attended all three days; 2,413 exhibitors and 40,000 appointments which is an increase of 15,000 compared to last year’s. They are next year going to be moving into the larger hall at the Sands Expo to allow the show to grow which is kind of cool.

Jon:                           Very cool. Yeah, it definitely was bigger than last year. And you can sort of see that arc that they’re going thru.

Mike:                          Yeah. And I know we had a booth there. We launched our new company Av for Planners. And we had hosted buyer  which I found were fantastic.

Jon:                           Yeah. You know, I was a little dubious about the concept of hosted buyers having not really experienced it from either side in the past. But I would tend to agree with you. I thought that they were really informative. They were really interesting and the people who came to meet with you, it was a good appointment. It was a good chance to talk about the product and it didn’t just feel like you were flagging somebody down in the isle. It was somebody who was actually interested in what you wanted to present to them

Mike:                          And I know we had several people come by and say “I had heard about this and I wanted to come over at the show” that and it’s such a massive show. It was pretty cool. And that didn’t happen just once or twice. That happened several times. And I did was reading up kind of what other people were saying about the show and a lot of the exhibitors found that they weren’t just focused on, you know, everyone’s always talking about the economy globally and in the US.

They weren’t really talking about the shrinking budgets but they were really looking for innovative ideas and technologies and things. So they were out there looking for things which is great because you know, for us, because we are a new technology basically, we’re web based, it was a very great show for me. I really had a great time

Jon:                           Well, and there was an international component to it that I think took both of us a little by surprise because it was much larger than we anticipated which seems ironic considering that IMEX started in Frankfurt and I should have realized, but just compared to a lot of other shows that I‘ve gone to within the US in the past, this just seemed to bring people from every corner.

I mean I had some great conversations. I talked with a fellow from Beijing, I talked with a fellow from Dubai and there’s components of business going in both directions. I talked to planners who have business who are going international and I talked to planners who are bringing business to the US. And so those conversations were not exactly what I sort of expected going in but they were amazingly interesting. And you find out that people have some of the same challenges around the world and it just really opened my eyes quite a bit.

Mike:                          Yeah. They also had a lot of good ways of contacting people. I know we — with the new digital focus on the show – well not really new but you met with, I’m blanking on this name, about the whole scheduling?

Jon:                           Right.  I believe it was.

Mike:                          Yeah. And I know we had a little challenge with that but we’re a new sort of company Av For Planners, so I think that was kind of us just launching and getting out, get the word out there. But I think they’re going to hone that even more because I know a lot of people really liked it because they could talk about things before the show. And then of course the mobile app too was very helpful for people getting around in that giant show floor.

Jon:                           Well, we were actually located right across from Quick Mobile who did the app. I thought it was fascinating, like just the range of people who were around us. I mean we had Quick Mobile across from us, we had other mobile app companies near us; we had staging companies.

Mike:                          Cvent was next door.

Jon:                           Cvent was right behind us. But then PCMA was close by, there were some publications. I mean, it was a very diverse floor. There was a lot to see there that wasn’t just like destinations. But some of the destination booths were really amazing. I mean, you know, huge, huge places to have meetings, multi-station and just fascinating at the commitment that some of these are countries made coming here to present to the US audience.

Mike:                          Right, yeah, I agree. Amazingly huge. Well, that was the funny thing that I was talking to people in our booth and then I was looking across was Egypt. It was kitty corner from us. It’s like the whole country was like, you know pretty amazing. But you’re right, like the Holland booth was there, that fun little guy throwing paint on people and then the Vancouver booth, they had the whole Vancouver Bay was there, giant – you know, their booth was a giant, you’re in the harbor, the Vancouver Harbor there. So just fantastic.

Jon:                           The Swiss booth was pretty nice too. I know we talked to some folks there.

Mike:                          Yeah, they had a lot of stuff going on. They had like a whole bar set up there, so it was kind of fun, yeah. And they were doing like games, like they were having games where they would sit around and they would, you’d guess, you were learning the cities I guess of Switzerland. There’s a lot of things that we didn’t see obviously because we were tending to our own booth.

Jon:                           And the podcast.

Mike:                          And the podcast which was fun, yeah. Well, that’s what went on. They had a big sustainability area. I know IMEX is very big with the Green meetings Industry Council. They’re working with the Apex Standards I guess they’ve set. And they’re using IMEX as kind of a roadmap. So IMEX is partnering with them to try and save money plus be more green as they evolve here and probably in Frankfurt also. I know they’re teaming up with that Meet Green company that does the Oracle shows and they’re kind of the I guess they’re the leaders in the Meet Green area for meeting planners.

Jon:                           Well, that kind of touches on something that I realized that I think this show may have done and it maybe by design, but it’s brought a lot of the industry together in one place. Because you know, we’ve talked before back on the podcast about how many different diverse organizations there are and how there’s sort of some overlapping and things like that. But it seems like they all came and joined in with the IMEX show, they’re all kind of cooperating with that. And it ended up being this place where everybody came to.

Mike:                          Yeah, like the MPI, Smart Monday. PCMA was giving all those sessions in their booth.

Jon:                           Right. And so you know, the sustainability and all of the – Apex, all of these different organizations getting involved seems like a really positive thing to me. I was over at the MPI booth talking with some of the folks there. And actually we had a couple of them on the podcast even. But it was just, it was a really interesting experience overall because I think it’s good for the industry. And I think it really demonstrates to governments and people like that, the size, the diversity and the strength of the meetings industry overall.

Mike:                          Yeah. And they did have the advocacy and politics forum that we talked about on another podcast for IMEX before their show, the Travel Association put that on I think or they brought in – I know the mayor of Las Vegas was there and the Travel Association guy Roger Dow was there.

But they had a whole talking about how their efforts to ensure that you know, that the political as you were saying, understand the value of meetings which was it’s a great thing to add too.

Jon:                           Yeah. Well and that’s like I say, they were parts of the overall concept that when I first heard about it a couple of years ago, I was a little dubious about, but now having experienced it a couple of years, seen the growth, seen the changes, improvements and certainly there are things that can be tweaked and improved just like any business model, but I came away from it feeling really energized, really optimistic about the industry and at the same time I made a ton of connections, had great appointments, ran into friends from across the whole spectrum of planners and suppliers. And so, it just – it was a really good way to spend a few days for a variety of reasons.

Mike:                          I know. I have a million calls to make for this. And so I guess people should mark their calendars for next year. So it’s October 15th thru 17th back again at the Sands Expo.

Jon:                           The expanded Sands I believe.

Mike:                          Yeah, it’s pretty exciting. And so I think we’ve kind of covered it. And thank you Jon, thank you for all your time with the podcast.

Jon:                           Happy to do it. Happy to participate and always having fun.

Mike:                          Yeah, nice talking to them about it, I think we’re going to be back again next year. We might even be going over to Frankfurt and hopefully we’ll bring in some podcast in from there. And I think to close out, I have a few more interviews that I’ll put up. So you can hear what other people thought about the show.

Jon:                           All right. Well, I’ll look forward to hearing those and from my side of the world, thanks for listening.

Mike:                          Thank you. And if anybody has any questions or comments, please send them to and feel free to e-mail Jon or I at Jon is J-o-n and I am M-i-k-e, Mike. So thank you Jon.

Jon:                           Thank you. And we’ll talk soon.

Mike:                          OK, bye

Female 1:                  My name is Nancy Nohearhername. I’m from Las Vegas, Nevada here working the Japan Pavilion at the IMEX Show 2012.

Female 2:                  My name is Kayo Namura from Tokyo, Japan.

Female 1:                  It’s been very, very excellent. We’ve known a lot of people. A lot of people are very interested in Japan, in coming to Japan, so we’re hoping to accommodate them. As compared to last year, I think the booths are a little bit more spectacular. They’ve got a lot more posses and I think people have been very, very impressed. It’s also been a little bit user friendly as far as people finding their booths, finding their appointments and getting around. I heard no complaints at all.

Mike:                          Awesome. All right. Well, thank you guys and have a great show. I’ll see you around on the floor.

Nadia:                  Oh, it’s We’re providing a structured assessment of the sustainability performance for hotels, resorts and also for attractions. We provide actually a sustainable management plan. And yeah, that’s what we do.

Mike:                          Very cool.

Nadia:                  Yes, exciting because I’m from Germany, actually and as my first – no, it’s actually my second time in Vegas, but yeah.  And we enjoy it, yeah.

Mike:                          Cool. Well, thank you for talking with me and have a great show.

Nadia:                  Yeah, you too, thank you.

Lucie:                            My name is Lucie Bayonne. I’m with the Monaco government tourism office in New York . The show is going really well. We have a lot of appointments. The quality of the buyers is amazing as usual. We’re really happy. We have group appointments, a couple of no-shows but nothing major, and everybody, all our partners, we have eight partners on the stand on the booths this year and they’re all happy.

Lucie:                  The Germany booth is incredibly huge.

Mike:                          There are some really nice. I think it wasn’t here last year but the booths are seem to be like –

Lucie:                  They are bigger than last year first of all, all of them, ours included, much bigger. I like the way that we are next to France, Switzerland. We have a little fun going on. The Euro party is going on tonight and I’m excited about it. I like the London, what London did last night with John Lennon singing a few tunes. There as a prince impersonator.

Mike:                          I didn’t see him.

Lucie:                  Very Vegas. We have AVMan, AVMAn here with us, it’s amazing.

Mike:                          All right, well, thank you so much and I’ll see you on the floor.

Lucie:                            Thank you, Mike.

Leanne:                       My name is Leanne Calderwood. I’m at Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I’m Director of Global Accounts Helms Brisco and we’re the world’s largest site selection company. So the reason I come to IMEX is to help find destinations and resorts for my clients. It’s the best show of this caliber in my opinion that’s being produced right now; was doing IMEX Frankfurt for a lot of years.

I find the IMEX Vegas Show has a lot more of the US and Canada destinations which right now for my client base is extremely important. From what I understand, the show has grown from last year and the plans are for next year to even procure more trade shows base because they’re predicting more growth for next year as well.

Mike:                          Awesome. Well, thank you very much and look forward to seeing you around the show floor.

Leanne:                       Sounds good.

Mariela:                     I’m Mariela Macllwraith. I’m from Vancouver. And I’m with a company called Meeting Change, meeting sustainability consulting and I just help organizations look at how they can integrate different aspects of being more sustainable into their operations. It’s been wonderful. I’ve had an opportunity to talk about a few different areas of interest for me.

I’ve been doing some sessions with MPI on both sustainability and gamification and helping out at the sustainability as well. This is my first time here at IMEX and I’m just amazed at the volume and the caliber of all of the exhibits that are here and the exhibitors; a lot of interests as well in the topics that tie that we’ve been talking about, gamification, a lot of interest in finding out how to incorporate gaming applications and theory into how to enhance events.

And also a lot of interest in sustainability and I’m happy to see a broad range of interest in sustainability not only environmental but also social considerations and how people can get more involved with community service projects at the event.

Mike:                          Very cool. All right, well, thank you so much. I look forward to see you around at the show floor some more.

Maiella:                     Perfect, thanks.

Trevor:                        Yeah, hi. I’m Trevor Roald. I’m with Quick Mobile. We are the global leaders in mobile event technology. The show is fantastic. Not only do we have – we’ve already greatly exceeded the number of meetings we planned on having, but the quality of the buyers and the meetings we’ve been having has just been phenomenal.

Mike:                          Yeah, I’ve noticed your booth which is a very beautiful booth actually.

Trevor:                        Thank you very much.

Mike:                          Very nice. It’s been just crazy busy. Every time I walk by, you’ve got people sitting there in meetings.

Trevor:                        Green shirts, orange shirts, blue shirts. Yeah. We’re mixing up the shirts, keeping it interesting, keeping it livelier in the booth. And yeah, it’s been all business. Many times we’ve five concurrent meetings going on in our little 10 X 20 over here. It’s our little piece of the world over here.

Mike:                          And how about the app?

Trevor:                        Oh, the apps are wonderful. We’re having – we’ve developed the apps that are our fourth IMEX, we’ve developed the app four, both at the US and Frankfurt. And the feedback’s been wonderful. We really worked – work really closely with IMEX this year to push the functionality, especially the ability to sync your schedule, your personal meeting schedule with the live system that they’re providing and having the two way connection has been valuable to hosted buyers.

Mike:                          Yeah. I’ve seen a lot of people using it walking around.

Trevor:                        Yeah, it’s been very, very popular. The trend for mobile and events has is really just starting. It’s an exciting place to be.

Mike:                          All right Trevor, thank you much. And I’ll see you around the floor here.

Trevor:                        See you around Mike.

Glenn:                        Glenn Thayer from Denver, Colorado. I am a Conference Moderator and a host for live and televised events. Love the show. IMEX is wonderful. This is my second year at IMEX. The greatest thing about it is that you could just walk the show floor and you run into everybody. You would run into exhibitors that you’re looking for.

You would run into other colleagues, the conversations that you can have on the trade show floor are unbelievable. The greatest thing is the thought leaders that are here around the world, in one place, you can’t beat it. I’m here on behalf of my – as a third party, on behalf of my clients to look at all the new event technologies that are here and how they can utilize it with their conferences and meetings.

Mike:                           All right, well, thanks Glenn, and I’ll see you on the floor.

Glenn:                        Thanks so much, Mike.

Natasha:                    I am Natasha Korofkova from Nice Meeting. I think it’s fabulous, so many people. We are so busy with people and seems like they are really interested in what we do, so thank you organizers, that’s a real great job.

Mike:                          Yeah, I saw your booth over there. You’re like a little technology area. It’s very cool.

Natasha:                    Yes, it is because it’s easier for people to, it’s easy to find, all of us, all technology people.

Mike:                          Yeah. All right, well, have a great show and I’ll see you later.

Natasha:                    Thank you, Mike. Thank you.

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