Camaraderie, optimism and fortitude mark 20 years of IMEX in Frankfurt
The first IMEX in Frankfurt since 2019 proved to be a momentous occasion for the global meetings, events and incentive travel industry this week.
After an enforced break of three years due to the pandemic, the feedback from exhibitors and buyers was very positive. Throughout the IMEX education programme, many presentations focused on future trends, current behaviours and changes to ‘industry norms’. Shorter sales cycles; an emphasis on sustainability; niche, highly targeted events plus shorter meetings and events are all forecast, and desired by attendees. Wellness is now front and centre, with a change in the story: an end-to-end duty of care to attendees, including consideration for their mental health, rather than a traditional focus on smoothies for breakfast or morning yoga, although both are expected too.
Corporate planners attending Exclusively Corporate on Monday 31 May, confirmed that, although some destinations are offering financial incentives of up to 100 Euros per delegate to attract events, buyers’ current top priority is how well that destination has managed Covid. Many agreed that financial incentives are helpful (if ethics policies allow) but proof of consistent and ongoing health management is more important, coupled with strong partnership values.
IMEX saw an excellent attendance of around 9000 in the halls this week, including close to 3000 buyers, of which the majority were hosted. Exhibiting companies numbered 2300.
Speaking after the closing press conference, IMEX Group CEO, Carina Bauer said: “It’s clearly been a great week for our global industry. The show was imbued with a sense of camaraderie and celebration, and it felt good to be back together in the same room - that’s the feeling our industry thrives on and is motivated by. We’ve heard about some huge contracts being signed and masses of business deals being done. All the indicators suggest that 2023 and 2024 are going to be very good years for our industry. However, we can’t deny the challenges of a new business reality – labour shortages, travel disruptions, supply chain issues. However, planners are resourceful, adaptable and determined by nature. They’ve learned a lot and I sense a strong determination to rebuild, but on new foundations. Equally, suppliers are doing their level best to flex and respond. The future looks bright.”