“Long-term confidence is returning”’ – Rajesh Agrawal, the Deputy Mayor of London for Business summarises the city’s outlook for meetings and events and this positivity was found across the show floor at IMEX in Frankfurt, taking place until 2 June.
Investment in destinations and venues has helped drive the sector’s progress with ExCeL London, South Africa and Bangkok among the exhibitors announcing major development plans at the show.
Remo Monzeglio, Vice Minister of Tourism, Uruguay, explained that his country’s fast, assertive reaction to the pandemic helped establish its reputation as one of the safest events destinations, ranking in the top five globally. With 80% of its 3.5 million population fully vaccinated, Uruguay has hosted a series of large business and sports events, each with over 50,000 participants. More recently, UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day took place at Punto del Este, widely known as the Saint Tropez of South America.
Image: Remo Monzeglio, Vice Minister of Tourism, Uruguay. Image download here.
Shorter sales cycles and niche events are big post-pandemic trends, according to new findings from The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR). Speaking on the MPI and ICCA stand, Cathy Breden, Managing Director of CEIR and CEO of IAEE, said that organisers are understandably “jittery” post-pandemic, leading to shorter sales cycles and new event models. These include small, niche and regional events which present new opportunities to the industry.
Breden urged organisers to explore co-location and targeted market opportunities, focus on year-round engagement, and prioritise sustainability and diversity and inclusion. She also said that “omnichannel marketing is here to stay”. She explained: “Make sure that you understand what your omnichannel marketing strategy is to reach all your different audiences and stakeholders. Digital is complementary, it’s not competitive to the live in-person physical event.”
Image: Catching up on the show floor. Download image here.
A tour of the tech landscape
Attendees were guided through the current event tech landscape by Miguel Neves, Skift Meetings Editor in Chief. In The Ultimate Guide to Event Tech 2022, Neves explained that growth in event tech has shot up 1000% since the pandemic: “This is a busy and tricky space to manage right now,” he said.
Before thinking about or approaching any tech companies, he urged: “You have to know what event tech can, and can’t, do. And if anyone asks you if the perfect platform exists, it doesn’t! That’s why I strongly advise every planner to start with concept first, then process and then tools. You can get very lost if you think about tech too early in your experience design.”
In ‘It’s time to start building your brand’, one of over 150 educational events taking place during the show, Shameka Jennings shared her strategies to develop a successful brand for individuals and organisations. “Craft a statement that summarises the ‘what, where and why’ of your role – and use that as your north star when introducing yourself. It’s about identifying a clear path, remaining unapologetically you, grabbing your success with a firm grip, and never letting go.” Her top tip? “Take advantage of your time here at the show – there’s so much content and so many people to meet.”
Data underpins the ‘foodprint’
Sustainability also features high on the agenda for planners: “It’s one of the biggest challenges our industry faces” explained Isabel Schmittknecht from MCI Germany. Eric Wallinger from Meet Green explained how “F&B is at the crossroads of sustainability – it’s the point where all elements of sustainability meet” in his session ‘Your event’s environmental “foodprint”’. The group shared their own challenges with data proof figuring highly – “If I remove five dishes from my menu, how does this change the world? I need the numbers to back this up” explained one attendee.
Visitor, Beau Ballin, Vice President, Global Market Leader at CWT Meetings & Events in Minneapolis sums up the joy of reconnecting on the showfloor: “I was at IMEX America, so it’s good to continue the journey and see the show open and people gathering together again. These two events are sort of what I call “Old Home Week”. It’s about meeting new suppliers and hoteliers, but it’s also about seeing my friends in the industry and peers and colleagues.”
IMEX in Frankfurt takes place 31 May – 2 June 2022 – the business events community can register here. Registration is free.