This year’s IMEX America program will be larger than ever: 50 of the trade show exhibitors will increase the size of their booths; 60 new booths have been confirmed so far, and new meeting and event planners from around the U.S. and the world will show up in Las Vegas from October 13-15, 2015, to network and learn new ways that people will meet in 2016 and beyond.

“It is always our goal to deliver increasing value to our exhibitors, hosted buyers and attendees,” said Carina Bauer, CEO of The IMEX Group. “Adding more new exhibitors, new buyer groups and providing new education ideas each year is our way of achieving this objective.

New Destinations and Hotels at IMEX America 

For meeting planners, the chance to meet face to face with some of the most popular tourism offices and their local partners really helps to make an initial (or final) evaluation for future events. Some of the new destinations joining the show from around the globe include:

  • Cincinnati USA, Cuba Travel Services, Detroit Metro CVB, Dominican Wings, Greater Birmingham CVB, IfOnly, Hungary, The Juneau CVB, Montage Hotels & Resorts, Oklahoma City CVB, Omaha CVB, Paraguay CVB, Richmond Region Tourism, SMG Convention & Exhibition Centers US, Taiwan, Telluride, and Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

Others are expanding their presence, including:

  • Accor Hotels, Bahamas, Bloomington CVB, Carnival Cruise Lines, Cirque du Soleil, Dominican Republic, Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB, Guidebook, Hilton, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Jamaica, Louisville CVB, Mexico, Omni Hotels & Resorts, Orlando/Orange County CVB, Playa Hotels and Resorts, Portugal, PromPeru, Puerto Rico, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, St Kitts and Nevis, Thailand and Visit Savannah.

Navigating the expanded trade show floor will be a little easier this year because the show floor navigation will have signage and show hostesses will be easier to find and ask questions. There will also be more food vendor options — healthier options — to consider on the floor, too.

What New at IMEX America for Planners?

First of all, new hosted buyers are coming in from Asia, China, Germany, Latin America, Russia and, of course, the USA.

And everyone’s going to have a little more time to explore the show floor this year. The show will open at 9:45 a.m. and scheduled appointments will be held only between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Learning Opportunities at IMEX America 

The limited hours for appointments scheduled on the trade show flow will also allow more time to focus on the education, too.  

The program begins with Smart Monday on October 12, powered by MPI, Association Focus and PCMA Business School, and it runs straight through to the show ending on October 15th. And many of the options count toward CMP / CEU certification points (continuing education credit). Options are designed for younger (under three years of experience) and senior meeting professionals (more than eight years of experience). The 10 tracks include:

  • Business skills
  • Creative learning
  • Diversity
  • General Education
  • Health/Wellbeing
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Research/Trends
  • Risk Management/Compliance
  • Sustainability
  • Technology/Social Media.

The trade show floor will include the Inspiration Hub this year, and, recognizing that everyone learns in different ways, the Hub will be split into five areas, each with a different learning format. There are seminar rooms, a Campfire area and a Hot Topic area providing opportunities to debate the latest industry issues with peers. The Meet the Experts Clinic offers individual appointments with an industry expert and presentations at the Research Pod area showcase the latest industry research.

A new Wellness theme – Be Well at IMEX – will also run at the show through educations sessions, a Meditation Room and the addition of a Wellness Guide with tips and healthy highlights at the show. Many exhibitors will also contribute to the theme in their booths.

The educational component will be live on the IMEX America website for the first time, and this is free of charge to all buyers, attendees and exhibitors.

Incorporating Creativity and Professional Play

IMEX America 2015 will have a new feature ‘The Play Room’ – sponsored by Play with a Purpose – which will run throughout Smart Monday and offer short ‘quirkshops.’ This upbeat, fun alternative to classroom learning lets attendees gain hands-on experience with a variety of tools, techniques and resources to create more engaging meetings in the areas of room design, tech, networking, teambuilding, F&B and more. The overall goal of the Play Room is to offer tangible, immediately applicable ideas that planners can build into their upcoming meetings.

Keynotes at IMEX America

Daily MPI keynotes will lend an intelligent and energizing note to each day of the show:

  • Monday: Wellness expert Lee Papa will discuss “How to Live and Lead Mindfully.”
  • Tuesday: Author, speaker and former magician will touch on “Human Connection: A Lost Art in a Noisy World.”
  • Wednesday: Film director Josh tick ell will address “Managing and Marketing to the Future Generation Y.”
  • Thursday: Former songwriter and author Patrick Henry will teach skills around “Becoming Remember-able.”

CSR & Networking

This year the group who took part in last year’s IMEX Challenge program will be revisiting Shade Tree to see the garden planted last year and write a song called Evergreen Shade Tree produced by Song Division. There will be limited places for additional participants. Further details will be on the IMEX America website from September.

There are, as ever, plenty of networking events at IMEX America 2015. Key dates for the calendar include:

  • Association Evening – cocktails and canapes, Mon Oct. 12th: Foxtail Nightclub, SLS
  • Site Nite North America, Mon Oct. 12th: Omnia, Caesars Palace
  • CEIR Golf Tournament, Mon Oct. 12: Rio Secco Golf Club, Henderson
  • 20th Annual CIC Hall of Leaders Celebration, Tues Oct. 13: Light Club, Mandalay Bay
  • DMC Network & Ovation Talent Search, Tues Oct. 13: The Bank NightClub, Bellagio
  • MPI Foundation Rendezvous, Weds Oct. 14: Drais, The Cromwell

Incorporate Social Media into Your Experience

Meeting professionals are searching for ways to incorporate social media into their own programs, and IMEX America demonstrates ways you can do by adding these elements into their own show:

Use other tools like Instagram, LinkedIn or even create WhatsApp groups with professional connections to share and discuss experiences while at an event like IMEX.

This year’s IMEX America continues the tradition of adding a mix of programming which contributes to  its popularity.

“Combining a strong business environment, top notch education and a powerful line-up of networking events, IMEX delivers business, connections, opportunities and knowledge sharing that last long after the show closes each year,” Bauer says.