The future of IMEX? A change in education strategy means higher value for planners and more access to buying power for exhibitors
A conversation with Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group, reveals a change in content and education strategy for the company, kicking off in January 2017.
The change? The introduction of a single educational theme for the whole year. With one cohesive theme providing an even stronger source of inspiration and direction for its education programmes, IMEX is confident that meeting and events planners will notice, and importantly appreciate, the difference. And by raising the bar on how it satisfies the needs of meetings planners, IMEX is once again giving exhibitors greater exposure to what matters most – buying power.
Q: What’s behind this idea of a single theme for the whole year?
A: As the organiser of two market-leading trade shows for the global meetings, events and incentive travel industry, we’re wholeheartedly committed to providing a valuable and inspiring mix of networking and learning opportunities. These are essentially the icing on the IMEX cake. They provide added value to our core reason for being, which we see as bringing buyers and suppliers together in the most efficient and enjoyable way possible so that they can build powerful and profitable business relationships.
To achieve that we keep pushing for more - and better. That means asking more questions, staying ahead of industry trends and setting ourselves higher standards every year. We feel strongly we’d be doing our buyers and our exhibitors a disservice if we didn’t keep asking: What are your biggest problems? How can we help? What do we need to focus on next?
That, combined with the hundreds of conversations and meetings we had with partners and collaborators last year, naturally evolved into the idea of a yearly ‘Talking Point’: A single storyline (if you like) around which we could plan and also refresh our education, events and partnerships.
And, interestingly, this move feels ‘just right for right now’. We know that meetings and events buyers often feel overwhelmed or burnt out from the pressures of doing their jobs combined with trying to keep up with latest trends, developments, compliance and legislation. And we see one of our jobs as distilling and filtering the important information and issues from the side issues. To help them understand what’s going to be most valuable in the long run. Having an annual IMEX Talking Point ticks will tick all of these boxes.
Q: Ok…so the obvious question is what is the IMEX 2017 Talking Point?
Great question! Our 2017 Talking Point is ‘Purposeful Meetings’, supported by the strapline: ‘How to plan with deeper meaning, innovation and insight in mind.’
Now, we’re fully aware this phrase is not in common industry use (at least not yet) but we think that’s also part of the fun! The definition goes like this: A purposeful meeting or event is one that’s planned with specific outcomes and attendee behaviours in mind. To achieve that five areas of meetings and event planning must be taken into account above all others, and they are: Behavioural Science; Health and Wellbeing; Meeting Design for the Human Experience; CSR and Legacy Building and, by no means least, Technology.
Some of these areas have grown in importance and value over the past few years while some are still quite new. However, we’re crystal clear that any planner who truly wants to have an edge and who cares about their craft will be excited to dig deeper into these areas and to learn from experts who live and breathe these specialties every day.
Q: How’s the Purposeful Meetings theme going to work in practice? What differences can IMEX participants expect to see?
In practical terms, our IMEX Talking Point will give direction to our education programme but it WON’T dominate all programme content.
In the case of Purposeful Meetings, for example, we’re partnering with PSAV to support a major piece of industry research which will be conducted by Dr. Amanda Cecil, PhD, CMP, Associate Professor and Chair, Indiana University, School of Physical Education and Tourism Management (PETM) and Janet Sperstad, CMP, Program Director, Meeting and Event Management at Madison College, USA. Janet and Amanda will research and produce a white paper entitled: ‘Purposeful Meetings: Creating deeper meaning, innovation and insight’. They’ll explore and curate many pieces of research that already exist but which sit in silos, bringing them together in a way that’s meaningful and valuable to meeting and event planners. We’ll also be running a keynote about this research on the Wednesday morning at IMEX in Frankfurt, when Janet Sperstad will present preliminary results which we’ll develop and explore further in time for IMEX America.
On top of that, we’ve entered into a very exciting three-year agreement with the EventCanvas.org Foundation which allows IMEX to offer Event Design Certification using the EventCanvas methodology at both of our shows as part of our preshow Monday education offering.
We’ll gradually release more news about Purposeful Meetings as 2017 goes on and, of course, once we have full details of our German and English language education programmes, we’ll promote those widely so that purposeful meetings and event planners out there can take full advantage!
As you can tell, our Purposeful Meetings Talking Point is already paying dividends. We’re excited to be bringing fresh knowledge, insight and value to the industry and looking forward to hearing how everyone reacts.
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