Editor’s note: The following column was written by Ray Bloom, chairman of the IMEX Group.
With another IMEX in Frankfurt now behind us, we have a brief pause before IMEX America comes powering into view.
At this year’s Frankfurt show – the largest in our 12-year history – I heard dozens of remarks about the definite optimism that was palpable in the halls. This return to a more positive business outlook than we’ve seen for some time in the global meetings, events and incentive travel business is welcome in every corner of our industry.
It also helped to generate strong figures at the show. We welcomed just under 4,000 hosted buyers from 74 countries, of which 32 percent came from long-haul markets including Argentina, Brazil, Hong Kong, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and the U.S.
The power of the Chinese outbound market was also clear for all to see. This year, Chinese buyers accounted for 4 percent of all total hosted buyers.
In line with our strategy, German buyers continue to make up the highest proportion – 14 percent – closely followed by the U.S. (10.5 percent) and the U.K. (10 percent).
Almost 5,000 trade visitors also attended the show, who came in from 93 countries. The end result was a strong 65,000 business appointments over three days.
Of all the highlights that took place, I was especially pleased by the historic joint statement announced during the IMEX Politicians Forum by the UN World Tourism Organization, the World Travel and Tourism Council and the Joint Meetings Industry Council.
This agreement to work together on three areas of common interest, together with the UNWTO’s recent publication of the “Global Report on the Meetings Industry,” gives the meetings industry a louder political voice than ever.
Prospects for IMEX America which will take place Oct. 14-16 in Las Vegas, already look very strong. Interest from new exhibitors, as well as space demands from previous exhibitors, are all pointing towards further growth and a strong business performance.
New services, which were so well received in Frankfurt, will be rolled out in Las Vegas. They include new pre- and in-show hosted buyer concierge services and the new IMEX app.
We also look forward to celebrating some great industry team work and local community achievement when a small group of industry volunteers will spend the weekend prior to the show building a new healing garden for the women, children and pets who seek sanctuary at The Shade Trade shelter as part of the IMEX Challenge.