IMEX's 16th Frankfurt show has opened, its largest-ever edition in terms of space taken by exhibitors, total floor area, number of technology exhibitors and the 250-plus education sessions. There are around 3,500 exhibitors in total representing 150 countries.
“A market showing solid growth and inspiring innovation; those will be the outstanding impressions that buyers will take away from IMEX in Frankfurt this year,” says Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group.
“While the political climate has been unsteady, the meetings and incentive travel industry has been resilient and has progressed steadily worldwide. The continuing growth of the show is clear evidence of that.”
Several new exhibitors including hotel groups and convention bureaus have joined, with increased participation from Latin America (up 8%) and Africa (up 7%) most notable.
Technology will also have a larger presence with a new Tech Café offering product demonstrations, and new exhibitors in the Tech Pavilion including Bravura Technologies, Event Tech Tribe and Etud Bilsim.
The education component kicked off before the main exhibition with EduMonday, a day dedicated to free professional education.
The second edition of EduMonday offered more events for specific interest groups including an Agency Directors Forum; Rising Talent for meeting professionals under 35; and She Means Business, a celebration and debate on the role of women in the meetings industry. Exclusively Corporate and Association Day were also back with new programmes.
The latest PCMA Business School was led by Adam Kingl of the London Business School who explained how to use the principles of strategic innovation to disrupt existing business models.
Participants in the Event Design Certificate Programme, from the Event Design Collective, left with both useful practical skills and a Level 1 Certificate of Participation, as did those who completed the CIS Certified Incentive Specialist course delivered by SITE.
Many of the learning innovations at the show this year will be centred in Hall 9, separate from the trade show floor. There, a Learning Zone has been created with the Inspiration Hub, the home of the show’s 250-plus education sessions, along with a Live Zone bringing together experiential ideas and products for attendees to try.
This includes the SkyLab, a chance to experience a meeting or brainstorm suspended in mid-air. SkyLab is one of the Learning Labs brought to the show by C2 International as part of a new three-year partnership with the IMEX Group aimed at driving innovation and creativity throughout the sector.
Social and networking opportunities include SITE Nite Europe, cim-clubbing by MPI Foundation, an Association Evening, and the IMEX Gala Dinner as well as TechnOvation, a new tech afterwork event hosted by Ovation Global DMC in partnership with Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos and the Zeus Consortium.
TechnOvation welcomed hosted buyers and key IMEX decision makers to The Mantis Roofgarden on May 15 to network and learn about the latest developments in event tech as well as vote in the ‘1st event tech elevator pitch contest’, which pitted four leading event tech startups against each other.
The IMEX 2018 talking point is ‘Legacy’, which will have five strands: political legacy, knowledge legacy/social impact; CSR legacy; environmental legacy and personal legacy –that is, “exceptional people doing exceptional things”.
“As the meetings and events industry has evolved over the past five years we’ve seen a shift away from planning an event around a ‘single moment in time’ towards planning an event with longer-lasting, more meaningful impacts – impacts that can be seen long after the event has ended,” says Bauer.
“That impact could be on the attendees, the host community, the local innovation economy, the destination partners, the city leadership, the environment… At the same time, developments in technology and, of course, social media, have allowed meeting and event planners to exploit and generate memory, meaning and value far beyond a single meeting or event.”
IMEX Frankfurt runs from May 15-17 at Messe Frankfurt Halls 8 and 9.