Where do event managers go to learn about meeting planning? IMEX America of course!
Mike talks with CEO of IMEX Group Carina Bauer about the upcoming October 9-11 IMEX America 2012 trade show in Las Vegas and what to expect from the new scheduling system, day of education, keynotes, the popular campfire sessions, green and CSR initiatives, and much more.
Full disclosure MeetingsPodcast is sponsored by IMEX America. You can find a full list of IMEX America Podcasts on the IMEX America website.
What to see at IMEX America this Year with IMEX Group CEO Carina Bauer
Mike: Welcome back to the Meetings Podcast. This is Mike McAllen from Grass Shack Events and media. And we want to welcome Carina Bauer who is the CEO of the IMEX group to talk about IMEX America coming up October 9th thru 11th at the Sands Expo Center at The Venetian and the Palazzo in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hi, Carina.
Carina: Hi. Hello
Mike: How are you doing?
Carina: Yeah, very well, thank you. We’re in the lead up, so we’re busy but everything’s looking for very good for the next IMEX America.
Mike: Right. I’m sure you’re crazy busy right now.
Carina: Yeah. Absolutely.
Mike: So what are we going to see at IMEX this year?
Carina: What I think one of the main obvious things that attendees are going to notice so when they walk into the halls is just the size of the show. We’ll be over 20% larger in terms of space this year. We’ve got over 16 new exhibiting stands. We’re expecting somewhere around 2,200 exhibiting companies. And they’re really from large across the world. We’ve had growth from every region of the world including great growth in North America but also from Europe and Asia, Mazz in America Caribbean Cruise Line Hotel Groups. So I think that’s some of the obvious things that people are going to notice when they first come into the show; that is it a much bigger show. It’s got even representation and even more people for them to meet and do business with.
Mike: Wow, that’s pretty amazing. Is it a lot of the same companies that go to Frankfurt?
Carina: Some are the same. In terms of our international exhibitors, because around 50% of the show is international and a good number of those international exhibitors also attend with us in Frankfurt, especially when you look at all Europeans, Latin America, Asian exhibitors. They tend to be coming to both of our shows. Of course there in Frankfurt, we have a relatively humble U.S. presence in comparison to the presences of – although it makes America as you’d expect. And so, there is a very large number of U.S. exhibitors, Caribbean exhibitors, cruise lines who are only with us at IMEX America. And we also tend to find that even those hotel groups who may be have a presence at IMEX in Frankfurt as well as IMEX America, they often send in representatives because they’re really representing different properties at the different shows. So in terms of the exhibiting base, it is quite a different exhibiting base although with some overlap.
Mike: Hmm. And so, can you tell me a little bit about the day of education or the education in general?
Carina: Yes, absolutely. That’s the other thing that certainly people will notice as well. We have significantly expanded on the education that we’re providing. So we have over 100 sessions throughout the show. We kick off the week if you like with a day called Smart Monday powered by MPI. And the majority of these sessions are delivered by MPI but other associations are also contributing. And it’s been great to see how the associations in the industry have come together to work together to present that day. And the idea really is that event is open to any buyers and any suppliers and is free of charge. And it’s a full conference stay. And it’s got some great programming in it in terms of great keynote to kick off the day, concurrent sessions.
We got a track which is specifically for association planners. And they do get qualified into it to make sure that they are all association planners and there are no suppliers in that which we got great feedback on last year because that’s quite unique for them to have something where they’re just with peers. That’s called association focus that runs from 11 thru to 7 PM. And then they get a networking event at the end. We also got a Personal Development Deep Dives, three three-hour deep dives in the afternoon looking at things like assertiveness and leadership.
We’ve also got a couple of great sort of volunteer opportunities, one going to one of our charities in Las Vegas Opportunity Village and the other one which is going to be run with Clean the World and also one on Sustainability from The Green Meeting Industry capsule. So there’s a lot of different things from keynotes to concurrence thru to workshops and fun volunteer activities. So there’s really a lot. And then that day ends with MPI have a buyer reception from 5:30 to 7:30 PM on that day that buyers can register into. We have the association evening which is for the association buyers with exhibitors. And then of course there’s North America, the hard rock. So that’s really the first day and that the show is not open.
We’re still in build up phase for the trade show. And then the trade show opens on a Tuesday, runs thru to the Thursday. And during the show, we have MPI keynotes every morning before the trade show opens. And then throughout the show, we run a lot of education, a lot of what we call bite-size education on the show for you all. We’re very careful about not taking people out of the show during core business hours, but there’s a lot that they can do on the show floor in small seminar areas, campfires which were enormously popular last year. They run for 10 to 12 people sitting around on sofas with a moderator in a specific subject and really having a conversation. And those sessions run from anything from sort of 15 minutes thru to 40 minutes. So people can really do their appointments, pop on to the short like quick education, go into another appointment and really manage their time very effectively and get business and their education all in one place.
Mike: That is great. I was just thinking about that. There’s so much going on to manage your time there. There’s going to be quite a feat.
Carina: Yes, it is. What we’ve done, another new thing that we worked on hard this year is our scheduling system. So, buyers are going to see a completely revamped scheduling system much more intuitive, much easier to use. And it also now synchronizes direct with our apps that will set at the show and on the go they can change their appointments and update things. And so we hope that that will people that there are still things we want to do with it. There is still lots of plans for us to improve further things like our events and schedules listing. But we really made great strides in that area and that’s thru a lot of feedback from people last year. And I hope they find it a bit easier to manage their time as a result.
Mike: Yeah. We found – I know John and Elizabeth Glau did the podcast last year after the event. And they were pleasantly surprised that you guys were listening and that you made so many – you know, you would actually listen to our podcast and listen to us which make well not me personally but them, and they’re part of the community. And you listened and you actually made changes which is kind of that’s new in this industry for this event. It’s really nice.
Carina: It was very insightful for us, those particular podcasts that they did. It was like being a and a lot of what they said backed up some of the anecdotal feedback we heard and some of the evaluation results that we got in. And as a result, I think the major impact or changes that we made as a result of that was to buyer attendee experience because what we really heard coming thru loud and clear was that the buyers who came on their own which meant they’re paying for their travel, they’re paying for their accommodation to come really felt that they weren’t quite a part of the full community. And so we’ve really tried to make an effort to bring them into the community thru a number of benefits. So buyer attendees have full access to the scheduling system and the messaging system so they can use that to make their appointments from four weeks before the show with the exhibitors.
They’re going to be able to log in to the app and utilize that scheduling feature thru the app as well. We’ve also given them access to the free Wi-Fi hotspots which last year were just for hosted buyers and buyer attendees can have that now also to all our ground transportation, shuttle buses throughout the city. Plus MPI will be – the MPI buyer reception on a Monday last year was just for hosted buyers, but buyer attendees will also be invited to that now. And of course, they have full access to all of the education that’s taking place and free access into the show. And number of great offers within Las Vegas as well which everybody can take advantage of as well. So we really hope that — we’re really delighted that so many buyer attendees came on their own and we really want to encourage them to come back and really have a great experience.
Mike: Yeah. It sounds like — I’m very excited to get down there. It’s going to be a great, great time. I really enjoy the keynotes, those kinds of portions of the event. Who are the – who’s keynoting?
Carina: We have got on the Monday morning, so to kick of Smart Monday, we have got Debra Benton, that’s on MPI keynote. And then to kick off the association focus track on Smart Monday, we have Mark Sanborn. I’m not sure if you were at the PCMA EduCon but he actually spoke there and was just absolutely inspiring and just fantastic speaker. Then on the Tuesday morning, we’ve got Jeff Salz and the Wednesday morning we’ve got Doc Hendley which I think is going to be really popular. He’s one of CNN’s top ten heroes in 2009 and looks like quite a cool guy. I think he’s going to be a great speaker. And then we’ve got Mike Maddock as our last keynote on the Thursday morning.
Mike: Wow. Yeah, John has seen Doc Hendley and he said fantastic.
Carina: Oh, really? Great. I haven’t him yet. And so all of those are MPI keynotes and they really have worked hard to try to get not just great speakers but a variety of speakers. So Mike Maddock is an entrepreneur and an inventor and a writer. Obviously Doc Hendley has created this great fundraising Wine to Water Program. So we really got different types of speakers as well coming in.
Mike: That’s fantastic. All right. Well, Carina, thank you very much for talking with me. And I’m sure we’ll be talking again before the event.
Carina: Absolutely. Thank you very much.
Mike: And I will talk to you very soon.
Carina: Thank you.