Surekha Ragavan
Apr 16, 2018

Tipping points that changed meetings industry: IMEX CEO

Carina Bauer reflects on how the industry has taken great strides in the last decade.

Tipping points that changed meetings industry: IMEX CEO

In honour of Global Meetings Industry Day on April 12, CEO of IMEX Carina Bauer shared four major tipping points that have transformed the industry over the last decade.


Less then a decade ago, the industry was talking about the “rise of China” and other Asian powerhouses. But fast forward to present day, Bauer said that buyers and sellers are faced with more innovation and more choice – but also more competition and more complexity.

“We have exhibitors from over 150 countries coming to IMEX in Frankfurt next month, including many from Africa, the Middle East and Central America who were not at the show in the early years,” she said.

“At any point in the business cycle, a showcase such as IMEX provides an instant snapshot of the health of a highly globalised marketplace.”

Innovation hubs

Bauer highlighted the rise of places that have deliberately leveraged their local innovation economies to elevate their destination brands, develop new multi-partner coalitions, and create better attendee experiences in the process.

“When cities, policy makers and local government leaders work together to drive economic value through increased jobs, intellectual capital and infrastructure investment, it’s a win-win for the meetings industry,” she said.

“And increasingly, it’s been the local meetings industry businesses or partners who’ve kick-started that coalition effort.”

Mobile technologies and internet

In rapid speed, the industry went from rolling out tech innovations to wondering whether face-to-face connections would be suffocated by a world in which “everything is online”.  But Bauer argued that tech has ignited a new appreciation of what it means to make meetings a “human” experience.

“Meetings and events are the ultimate expression of a human desire for shared experience; one that’s rooted in a single, distinct behaviour – gathering together in one place at one time,” she said.

The TED factor

Bauer pointed out that it’s hard for those in the industry to remember the pre-TED days. “For anyone in the business of regularly delivering information or education, be it to B2B or consumer audiences, TED changed the game and the rules,” she said.

For instance, events such as SXSW, the me Convention in Frankfurt and C2 in Montreal were partly shaped and inspired by TED talks.

“Looking ahead, there’s a new space in which events such as IMEX are now working. It’s defined by a kind of ‘super-convergence’ of business, technology, entertainment, academia and politics,” she said.


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