More than 3,000 meeting and incentive planners from at least 50 countries attended IMEX 2005, the Worldwide Exhibition for Incentive Travel Meetings and Events, in Frankfurt, Germany, last week. IMEX Chairman Ray Bloom said the three-day show also enjoyed a record attendance of 3,000 exhibiting companies representing 140 countries. Hosted buyers and German buyers used the IMEX Web site to schedule some 25,000 appointments at the show.
At a press conference on the final day, Bloom noted the increasing success of several IMEX initiatives, including:
- Association Day, with a record 262 association buyers attending this year. The International Convention and Congress Association and IMEX organized the event in association with six meeting industry associations, including U.S.-based International Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus, International Association of Exposition Management, and the American Society of Association Executives. New for this year were 25 roundtable discussions based on subjects nominated by the delegates.
- Meeting Professionals International has formally joined with IMEX to develop and enhance the show’s Future Leaders Forum, launched in 2003 for students interested in joining the meeting industry. The program had been open only to students from Europe and Asia, but it will now be available to students from North America. Thirty to 40 North American students will attend MPI’s 2005 World Education Congress July 10 to 12 in Miami as part of the new North American Future Leaders Forum.
- For the third year in a row, IMEX held a Politicians Forum, which invited 15 European politicians from 10 countries to meet to discuss the economic and political issues surrounding the meetings, incentives, and events industry. Many of the politicians were from the new EU destinations and former Eastern European countries such as Lithuania, Slovenia, Poland, Hungary, and Croatia.
Moderator Michael Hirst, chairman of the Business Tourism Partnership U.K., made the point that the Politicians Forum exists to encourage positive change and to facilitate economic growth throughout Europe. He said, "We all appreciate that new initiatives such as these take time to develop momentum, and to gain the widespread respect and goodwill that ultimately makes them powerful. By keeping the Forum’s sights firmly set on measurable results and by broadcasting our successes, big and small, I believe this initiative will become a leading driver for change."
The IMEX Politicians Forum is organized under the auspices of the Joint Meetings Industry Council and through the European Federation of Conference Towns.
- IMEX welcomed a 40-person delegation of senior executives from HelmsBriscoe, the world’s largest site selection company. Bloom said IMEX will work closely with the company throughout the year to explore a number of marketing initiatives. In addition, IMEX hosted MPI’s Global Corporate Circle of Excellence, a group of senior-level corporate meeting managers, who also attended for the first time this year.