From October 12-16, 2020, thousands of global events, meetings and incentive travel professionals gathered again under one, virtual roof, for the second edition of PlanetIMEX. The next-best thing to being together in Las Vegas, like we usually are each fall, it still delivered lots of the great experiences we’ve all come to expect. So, in honor of IMEX America’s 10th anniversary year, let’s dive in to the top 10 highlights of this “world of wonder, community and connections” that celebrated the value of our industry and proved its power to change the world.
The perfect prep for a productive week, Monday Funday launched this PlanetIMEX in the most playful, uplifting style—a curated day of exploring, being curious, energised and entertained, and bonding with likeminded people. Mystifier Mike Super blew our minds with his mind-blowing magic act, and we competed in digital games at DRPG BIGtalk World, a virtual theme park.
We enjoyed imaginative virtual site visits of destinations and venues, like a Germany fun facts quiz (and reminder of time spent at IMEX in Frankfurt), hot-air balloon ride over otherworldly Cappadocia and tour of AREA15, Las Vegas’ new, one-of-a-kind event space. Las Vegas also gave a glimpse ahead to future live events there, followed by a jaw-dropping performance by Cirque du Soleil. And the list goes on!
Nature Talking Point
PlanetIMEX featured intriguing content on its 2020/2021 Talking Point of Nature. Headliner Daniel Fox, a solo wilderness explorer and founder of Feel the Wild VR, kicked off Tuesday with “The Power of Nature.” During this must-watch presentation, we experienced profound concepts, including “we are nature,” “what’s invisible to our eyes is what’s keeping us alive” and how to embrace disruption in order to grow and transform.
Also, check out “#Natureworks: Why Create a More Regenerative Events Industry.” Download the subject of that timely conversation—IMEX’s brand-new industry research report, powered by Marriott International, THE REGENERATIVE REVOLUTION, A New Paradigm for Event Management.
COVID-19 – Where are we?
Tuesday and Wednesday were filled with the brilliant general education in which we’d normally be immersed at the live IMEX shows. One eye-opening, popular example: a lively headliner session delving into how, in the US, the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on communities of colour and revealed striking socioeconomic and healthcare inequities.
In it, we discovered ways industry organisations can make a positive diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) difference, prioritising social responsibility. A few tips: Create a strategic plan. Engage with local communities. Listen to them. Partner with authenticity.
Shrink the distance: The future of tomorrow’s technology, today
In this dynamic headliner session, Digital Futurist Brian Fanzo examined embracing innovation and technology smartly, in ways that bring people together, rather than push them apart. But before leveraging new tools, it’s crucial to assess our needs and pinpoint the right tech for today. Among the many takeaways were how we can—and should—leave offline limitations offline—and reinvent, instead of repurposing.
MPI’s Meetings Outlook: Future predictions for the business of meetings session
Lori Pugh Marcum, CMP, CMM, CED, Head of Meeting Innovation at MPI, navigated the association’s latest research on those trends most affecting meeting and event professionals. The insights touched on budget, attendance and business conditions, as well as what our next steps should be, as we stay competitive and bounce back. (Knowing and understanding your attendees will be key.) The Q&A digs even deeper into creative tips, so watch until the end!
She Means Business panels
IMEX continued its twice-yearly She Means Business programme with galvanising sessions led by influential panelists. We considered how diversity and inclusion strategies can steer our industry and eliminate barriers to entry, particularly improving the narrative and representation of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) women in leadership roles. A second panel talked about making tough decisions and guiding teams during the pandemic, leaning into the skills you have to become a better leader, and the significance of empathy, compassion and self-care.
Renowned storytelling project, Dear World, showed how to bring meaningful connection to our online events. David Broadus, the IMEX Group’s Database Manager, told a personal, heartfelt, captivating story about hosting and helping dozens of homeless kids. Then, we learned the “brain tattoo” method he used, and by reflecting on the seminal moments and most important values in our lives, we began to discover and shape a brave, inspiring story of our own.
Wellbeing is always a priority at IMEX shows, and our visit to PlanetIMEX was no different. Lee Papa, who IMEX America participants find conducting their tranquil Mindfulness Lounge escapes, shared “The secrets to mindful living” and led us step-by-restorative-step through “Ride waves of change like a master, surf into meditation,” featuring mindfulness training, a breathing and awareness exercise and guided relaxation and meditation.
We also replenished our bodies, brains and spirits during the Caesars Entertainment Wellness Challenge and in other sessions featuring intention setting, yoga, meditation and even hotel room workouts, all of which we can infuse into our everyday routines. Has there ever been a more important moment to take some time for ourselves? Ahhhhh…
Thursday was primarily dedicated to IMEX’s signature specialist education for a broad range of industry professionals, including the intensive, invitation-only Association Leadership Forum, Executive Meeting Forum, Faculty Engagement Programme, Future Leaders Forum and Independent Agency Forum.
Also on the agenda: The “Response to Recovery” series provided in-depth updates and useful resources from partners in North America, Europe, Germany, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. We looked at their state-of-business readiness, individual challenges, lessons learned and future forecasts.
Plus, during Virtual Event Tech Day by EventMB, a Skift brand, many attendees watched 20 leading experts answer the 20 most pressing questions about fast-developing virtual event technology—and how to best use it in your new strategies. Supplier matchmaking enabled planners to get “hands-on,” and we checked out the hottest options across tech showrooms and several demo days.
Last, but certainly not least, Community Day concluded the week with a subject close to all of our hearts. Delivered and hosted by IMEX partners, 30+ sessions encompassed an array of timely topics.
Among them were resources such as “Guidance from the EIC APEX COVID-19 Business Recovery Task Force” and Northstar Travel Group’s “Breaking news: Reporting on COVID-19’s impact on the meetings industry.” “Best Cities: Around the world in 80 minutes” presented the latest activities, innovative services and updates from global communities, and MeetGreen discussed “Sustainable and safe events: Comparing current guidance to event sustainability practices.”
IAPCO uniquely demonstrated how “Olympians and meeting professionals (are) not so different after all.” We gained a reenergised, refocused perspective on how to manage change, learning first-hand from an Olympic medal winner and a Director on the International Olympic Committee.
In a fitting touchdown of a finale, Mandalay Bay and MGM Resorts gave us a sneak-peek virtual tour of what awaits us next year—a stellar roster of team, venue and amenities—when IMEX America moves to their incredible resort.
Explore all of this timely content—and lots more—on-demand!
Keep riding the PlanetIMEX wave, and catch up on any highlights you missed. Browse on-demand education session replays, plus additional industry resources and content on giving back, safety standards, travel, hotels, CVBs and cities.
With IMEX already gazing beyond the blue horizon to its 2021 events, you can also find info on joining everyone for the full, live experience. Watch for when registration opens for IMEX in Frankfurt (25-27 May 2021), and plan to be at IMEX America (9-11 November 2021) in Las Vegas, too.