A week after IMEX in Frankfurt and I have only just been able to digest what happened. Before going I was hungry to learn, network and really understand the meetings industry. Coming from a B2C background it was interesting to enter a world that’s nothing like I’ve seen before.
As a new addition to the @IMEXsocialteam, I had a lot of first time experiences. However, nothing will beat my first glimpse of the show floor, it looked like “Disneyland for event planners”.
I had no preconceived ideas about IMEX although I had heard a lot of buzz around the show and how it’s a place where #eventprofs from all corners of the world come together to do business and exchange ideas.
At 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday morning, the doors opened for the hosted buyers and visitors to enter the hall. The @IMEXsocialteam watched them march on to the show floor, ready to shake hands, exchange business cards and learn something new. As the day progressed and the coffee kicked in, the calm hum of conversations 'crescendoed' in to a roar of networking, laughing and celebration.
The social team were ready. We had our smart phones in hand and our battery packs charged.
Guided by Gerrit Heijkoop (the brain of the @IMEXsocialteam), we were sent on missions throughout the IMEX show floor. It was like a treasure hunt. If an exhibitor tweeted about their stand and included #IMEX16 we were sent a task to find them, interact with their stand and tell the social world about it.
Through the eyes of an iPhone photographer and a filter loving Instagram professional, the content on the show floor was abundant.
After three days of stomping around on the red carpet, tasting traditional dishes and learning how to say “hello” in five different languages, my impression, through the eyes of a first-timer is there are three main areas to pay attention to on the IMEX show floor.
The first thing I noticed entering IMEX was the vibrant energy from the exhibitors. It was fascinating to see countries that are worlds apart, stood side-by-side sharing insights, communicating their interests, and coming together to promote themselves as destinations for meetings and events.
As the @IMEXsocialteam ventured to the various stands, we were graciously greeted with sugary treats and customised trinkets.
The food and drink made all the difference. I do love free merchandise, like a good pen or key chain, but if I can eat it and drink it, I will probably be a lot happier. And that’s exactly what happened. You did not have to ask the @IMEXsocialteam twice to go try some local food.
Disclosure: all the pictures are of food tried and highly approved of by the @IMEXsocialteam.
After we licked our lips and washed the food down with a drink or two we sought out the stands that were demonstrating culture from around the world.
Some exhibitors even put on a little show…
Even though IMEX is for business professionals, I think it’s great that each country, city or hotel has a chance to showcase their skills, trades and talents.
From what I saw last week at the show, event technology improves experience, enhances the senses and engages the audience. The technology used might not be new, but how they are using it for meetings and events is certainly new, and it’s transforming the industry.
Virtual reality was a big player for exhibitors with some of the larger stands gaving visitors the chance to immerse themselves in the destination. At first it felt slightly surreal to be “walking” around a hotel in Dubai, or on a beach in Monaco. It definitely looked slightly mad from an outsider’s point of view.
Some of the stands were even giving away their own cardboard VR sets. It comes like a flat pack, with IKEA-like instructions to help you create your very own VR head set.
Virtual Reality has the capacity to send event planners to their desired venue locations. It’s an added incentive for these destinations to be able to show planners what it “feels” like to be there. I’m intrigued to see how this will develop, the future possibilities are endless for VR and events.
To add to the tech excitement, touchscreens are great addition for exhibitors to get the visitors involved. Whether it’s a Giant iTab or a screen imbedded in to a table top, the interaction is great.
A few of the hotels offered their buyers customisable programs that allowed the planners to build their event in a room in the hotel so they could get a visual idea of how it would look.
Giant iTab are official suppliers to the IMEX in Frankfurt show. Strategically located around the event, these large touchscreens displayed the show app for visitors. Since people are already familiar with touchscreens, it results in better interaction and engagement.
A fun addition to this year’s show was Nao, the dancing humanoid robot.
Networking and Education
In addition to all the excitement on the show floor, IMEX gives you the opportunity to build on your career path by taking educational sessions and listening to speakers who are established thought leaders in their field.
IMEX can be a serendipitous place – you never know who you’re going to meet, where you’re going to meet them and what relationship will develop. The great thing is, everyone is there to meet others within their industry.
One thing I had to learn very quickly was remembering who I’d met throughout the three days. When someone handed me a business card, the first thing I did was whip out my pen and write a small note on their card, for example “Met her near the Inspiration hub, we talked about dogs and New York”. It helps when sending out the “It was a Pleasure Meeting You” emails later on.
As a new comer to the meetings world, I found that the education sessions were essential to anyone who wants to progress their career. There were countless opportunities to learn, discuss and build ideas throughout the show. Everyone had something to say, and everyone wanted to listen.
My favourite was the Sharing Economy session, it was more than informative, it was interactive too. Each speaker only spoke for 6 minutes, and after their slot the tables discussed the topic proposed by the speaker.
The result? A well informed discussion amongst people I had no prior connection to. None of us had the same view, but we all had some sort of input and learned off one another.
What I learnt:
- First and foremost, wear comfortable shoes to IMEX. The amount of walking is crazy.
- IMEX is an essential event for anyone in the meeting industry. From a pioneer to a newbie (like myself), I think anyone in this industry will greatly benefit from it.
- Live social media works. As a social media aficionado this is great to experience first-hand. Interacting with the audience in real-time really adds a personal touch to the messages being sent out to attendees.
- Not only do you learn, you connect, discuss and debate with peers who share the same passion but maybe different views. It’s a very stimulating three days.
- Don’t rely on WiFi alone, buy an international data package. It will save you a lot of aggravation.
- There will be serendipitous moments or synchronicities throughout the three days. Since everyone is there to make connections, the opportunities are there, you just have to take advantage of them.
To add to the excitement, Huong from the @IMEXsocialteam created a vlog on her point of view from the show floor and all the fun we had.