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IMEX hacks for a first-time attendee

Published 30th April 2018

Monica Compton

Monica Compton, CMP, is a global meeting planner and travel writer who has worked in over 30 countries and five continents. With three years’ worth of IMEX experience, she’s got plenty of tips and tricks to help your first time at the show go smoothly.

In 2013, I was given the opportunity to attend IMEX Frankfurt and write articles for a U.S.-based meetings industry magazine. I went into the show with great confidence. I was an international meeting planner with two decades worth of industry knowledge. Surely, I had more than enough background to prepare me for IMEX. I was wrong.

I quickly became overwhelmed. The exhibition was enormous! Almost every country in the world had a stand. There were representatives from international destination management companies, tourism bureaus and leading industry associations. For four days, I fast-walked from press conferences to educational sessions to buyer appointments on the show floor. By the end of the exhibition, I wrote an industry trends feature article, received credits toward my Certified Meeting Professional designation and met colleagues from around the globe.

Fast forward to 2017 and I have three years of IMEX experience under my belt. I no longer feel overwhelmed. For the first-time attendee – either to the show in the U.S. or Frankfurt – the size and depth of what IMEX has to offer can cause trepidation for even the most seasoned professional.

How to make the most of this world-class event:

  1. Plan your schedule before you land. This seems like a given, especially for those who organise events for a living. IMEX is different. There are 10 educational tracks and hundreds of stand activities occurring each day. If you are a hosted buyer, plan your appointments around educational sessions. IMEX makes sure there is enough time to fulfill your buyer obligations and still benefit from education and networking. That’s why they offer so many opportunities at the same time.
  2. Before the show begins each day, find the location of your appointments and top activity choices on the show floor map. While rushing for a meeting, I’ve turned in circles trying to find the correct aisle on the show floor. The amount of activity creates a vortex that can suck you in. From stands offering complimentary champagne and canapés, to country representatives dancing around in native dress, a hubbub ensues that is really exhilarating. By making sure you know the location of meetings in advance, you can still enjoy the festivities along the way (and no one cares if you carry your champagne around the show floor).
  3. Eat, hydrate, rest, repeat. IMEX is a four-day marathon. You have to schedule a lunch break likes it’s a required appointment. Although the main show floor can be chaotic, there are areas that offer a quiet getaway to sit, eat, drink and think.

The wonderful world of IMEX. There is nothing like it. The opportunities are as endless as the show floor. The memories are priceless. If you have yet to experience the show, register for IMEX in Frankfurt 2018 now!