When it comes to IMEX America and Vegas, what happens there definitely does not stay there! IMEX America brought together 3,250 exhibiting companies from 139 countries. There were over 70,000 individual and group appointments and booth presentations over the course of three very productive days.
Every day, the event kicked off with a keynote speaker sponsored by Meeting Professionals International (MPI). In addition, over 200 education sessions were offered during the three days with the vast majority of them right on the show floor. Here are our impressions of the sessions we attended:
During the Room Block Poaching Session, we learned that there is a new Bill (HB 4526) that is going to Congress in 2017 which includes language that will protect your organization and your attendees from these poachers and make the scams they pull illegal. Some best practices presented include the following: Warn your attendees in advance (Unauthorized Solicitation Warning) and post the information on the website in advance; complete a “dummy registration” with a ghost e-mail address so you know immediately if there is a scam happening; and give the housing provider an official (un-copy able) seal to use so your attendees know what to look for.
In the Boardroom to Bake Sales, How to Have it All presentation presented by Barb Myers, COO of IMN Solutions, she said the most important thing you can do is to find your passion and make sure you are fueling it through your work and your personal life. Diversify your work schedule as you are able within the constraints of your organization and have a mindful purpose when you are focused on your family or hobbies. Myers said it is important to let go of the “Should-Do’s”, don’t be afraid to ask for help and take the time to nurture yourself.
The Future Meeting Space session, presented by the German Convention Bureau, gave us insights into technologies developed to promote interaction and knowledge transfer: Besides the virtual reality glasses we already know of and use, 180-degree projection was mentioned which builds a virtual reality through 3-D optic for attendees. For exhibitors not wanting to ship heavy materials onto a show floor, virtual pictures layered on a fog-curtain can be used as an interactive touchscreen for product presentations. Holograms of speakers for sessions in case they can’t be there in person, and digital translation are the next big things. The latter is already available for trial by Microsoft and Google and will eliminate in-person simultaneous translators.
ExCeL London (International Convention Center) held a breakfast presentation on the effects of BREXIT for England’s meeting business. We learned that the UK will remain a member of the EU until at least 2019 (Article 50 will be triggered by March 2017) and besides the temporary drop of the GBP, London was ranked first in PwC’s recent “City of Opportunities” ranking. ExCEL specifically gets 25% of bookings from the USA with a growing tendency. An ALoft hotel is connected to the ExCeL and between now and 2019 there will be over 20,000 additional hotel rooms built. This leads us to our main takeaway: London is very much open for business.
IMEX is not all work and no play! On Tuesday night IMN represented at the Marriott party at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The party was held on the pool deck with half of the actual pool being drained for us to walk around. Pretty cool! They had food stations from all of their restaurants including Rose Rabbit Lie, STK, Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar and Holsteins. The night ended with a bang by Bret Michaels singing all of his hits! After the Marriott party we shuttled over to the SLS and W Vegas for the Starwood SPG Pro After-Party. There we delighted in eating off of a donut wall, watching a hula hoop fire dancer and a swimming mermaid and being mesmerized by a speed painter.
On Wednesday morning, Marriott hosted a breakfast at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The main focus was on relaying the excitement for the acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Marriott will now represent 30 brands and is already referring clients to Starwood Hotels. A focus for Marriott is seamlessly merging the best of the loyalty programs so the guests have the maximum benefits and members can already link their existing Marriott Rewards and SPG accounts receiving matching elite status. The combining of the companies will take two years to complete with no major changes in the sales teams happening until Q1 2017.
All in all, IMEX America is the most productive US trade show for the hospitality industry of the year! WE are looking forward to the 2017 edition held from October 10 – 12.