IMEX, the Worldwide Exhibition for incentive travel, meetings, and events, debuted April 8 to 10 in Frankfurt, Germany, during one of the most difficult times in the history of the incentive industry. There were few planner or exhibitor cancellations, say the organizers.

The mood at the show was professional, quiet, and somber, reflective of the times. Exhibitors reported that regional and short-haul travel is in and long-haul travel, for the most part, is on hold. For example, many European destinations that once had the U.S. as their major market share for incentives are now depending on Europe to fill the gap.

A total of 5,624 attendees included 2,570 hosted buyers from 39 countries (hosted buyers are qualified meeting planners who are invited by show organizers and whose way is paid by sponsors). There were 2,200 exhibitors from at least 119 countries. The target for 2004 is a 10 percent increase in hosted buyers, says show organizer Ray Bloom. He also anticipates a 10 percent to 15 percent rise in attendance by nonhosted buyers. Next year's show is scheduled for May 12 to 14 at Messe Frankfurt.