More than 12,000 international meetings industry professionals from 150 countries gathered in Las Vegas from October 1-12, 2017 for IMEX America. This is the seventh edition for the program in Las Vegas.

Ray Bloom, IMEX Group

Ray Bloom, Chairman, IMEX Group. Courtesy image

And while the focus of the program is to give exhibitors and attendees an opportunity to discuss future events, the timing of IMEX America was overshadowed by the tragic news of a gunman who shot at a crowd of concertgoers at an outdoor venue on the Las Vegas Strip less than two weeks before the convention. And it’s certain that security measures will change in Vegas in ways we are not sure yet and elsewhere. 

(My viewpoint: There’s a definite opportunity in front of this industry to leverage its influence and financial strength to ensure greater security measures at each phase of the travel experience worldwide in a way that should not be disruptive.)

So for now, IMEX America exhibitors, the industry’s associations and planners forged ahead to focus on the task, as they say, that meetings mean business.

And so everyone gathered, share ideas and renewed friendships. And this was done with a spirit of unity in the face of many serious challenges that several communities — not just Vegas — are facing around the world, most recently in Las Vegas itself.

IMEX America Highlights

This year, some of the exhibitors changed things up a bit — some increasing their space — and some new exhibitors joined for the first time, including Abu Dhabi and Rwanda Convention Bureau and Viking Cruises.

IMEX America 2017 Opening Day

IMEX America 2017 Opening Day. Courtesy image

More than 70,000 appointments were made including 60,000 individual appointments and booth presentations. “For exhibitors and buyers this simply means that we’ve created more opportunities than ever to do business,” said Ray Bloom, chairman of IMEX Group.

Ray Bloom also drew attention to an important milestone; the 150th IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum took place at the show. “We’ve always been committed to actively encouraging students from around the world to make careers in the meeting and incentive travel industry. Over the years more than 7,500 young people have taken part in this program and many have since gone on to positions in the industry. It’s very pleasing to see how far they’ve progressed.”

The new CSR & Sustainability initiatives this year by IMEX America included using recyclable carpet in the aisles and in some of the booths and not printing a Show Catalog. The show was also supporting “Spread the Word Nevada” by encouraging participants to donate books to a local literacy scheme. For those taking particular care of their health there was the #IMEXrun which this year attracted over 450 runners.

IMEX America is widely known for its networking opportunities. More than 6,000 peer-to peer introductions were made in advance of the show via the Zenvoy connections software, while a wide range of social activities such as SITE Nite North America, the EIC Hall of Leaders Reception, Shamrock Shootout Golf Classic and MPI Foundation Rendezvous, the IMEX America Night brought thousands of people together.

IMEX America Educational Programs 

With a record-breaking 250 education sessions on offer all week, the majority of which count towards CMP Certification, IMEX attendees were not short of choice or opportunity on day one.

IMEX America 2017 Hot Topics Table at Inspiration Hub

IMEX America 2017 Hot Topics Table at Inspiration Hub. Courtesy image

The program started with Smart Monday, powered by MPI, which brought over 1,000 event professionals to engage in a wide variety of learning events. At the first MPI keynote Janet Sperstad provided fascinating insights when presenting key findings newly published in a white paper about the IMEX Group’s Talking Point for this year, Purposeful Meetings. This is now available to download.

During the week, 250 education sessions took place, covering ten education tracks, and attracted several hundred participants. 80% of the sessions were assigned with CEs for CMP certification. Adding to the overall show experience was the new Inspiration Hub which used inflatable domes for the seminars, campfires and white space areas for the first time.

The “power of live experience” was a theme that came to life at the Lunchtime Live Zone, interactive live event experiences including instant personalized song writing, the first Virtual Reality Photo Booth and “Sand Selfies”.

Discussing the show’s extensive education program, Ray Bloom highlighted the new Event Design Certificate course and the Association Leadership Forum, created by ASAE, a new special education program which had brought together 85 association CEOs and executives on Monday. He also said that the Executive Meeting Forum for meetings strategists working in the corporate sector had attracted 30 senior executives from companies including BP, Allianz AG, McDonald’s, PwC and Toyota with an annual buying power in excess of $2.5bn.

IMEX America Schedule Announced

It was announced that 2020 will be the final year when IMEX America will be held at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas. Then it moves to Mandalay Bay. The dates and venues for IMEX America for the next eight years will be:

2018   October,16-18   Sands Expo
2019   September,10-12  Sands Expo
2020   September,15-17  Sands Expo
2021   November,9 -11  Mandalay Bay
2022   October,25-27   Mandalay Bay
2023   October,10-12   Mandalay Bay
2024   October,8-10   Mandalay Bay
2025   October,7-9   Mandalay Bay