Build up before show entrance opens. Courtesy image

The second edition of IMEX America, the largest trade show in the US for the global meetings, incentive travel and events industry, opened today by announcing significant increases across a range of key measures.

The show, which launched last October, is 28% larger than its inaugural edition. This year it features 77 new booths and showcases 2413 exhibiting companies. When doors opened this morning at the Sands Expo® in Las Vegas, 40% of the show’s original exhibitors had returned with bigger booths. Of these, 30% had more than doubled their booth space in order to attract buyer attention and make their mark.

Germany is this year’s single biggest exhibitor, while Californian exhibitors are grouped together on the show floor for maximum visibility and to help interested buyers find all its suppliers in one place. Similarly Hawaiian exhibitors have come together on a single, high-impact booth.

Increases Across All Sectors
In addition, representation from almost every industry and geographic sector has increased at this year’s show. Space taken from exhibitors representing Africa and the Middle East is up by 49%, Asia by 29%, the Caribbean by 61%, Latin America by 50% and European exhibitors are up by 14% – after already having a sizeable presence last year. Increased interest from US exhibitors means this area of the hall has grown by nearly a quarter – 23%.

Within the industry supply chain, cruise lines have shown a strong appetite for booth space with representation 33% greater than last year, including a pavilion from the Cruise Lines Association. Technology companies are up by 27% with the result that the show’s Tech Pavilion is full. There has also been a 33% increase in private sector companies exhibiting, including the Incentive Marketing Association which has taken a dedicated pavilion to showcase individual incentive products. Similarly, the hotel sector has increased by 31%.

IMEX America is also differentiated by the scale and quality of its hallmark hosted buyer program. This year organizers expect well over 2000 hosted buyers to have attended by the close of business on Thursday with significant increases in buyers from the US, Latin America, Europe and Asia in particular. Around 1700 attendees are also set to do business and enjoy the free networking and education program at the award-winning show.

New Developments
Show organizers have taken on board many of the suggestions and feedback from last year resulting in a range of new and extended benefits for buyer attendees to enjoy. These include: free shuttle bus transfers; free wifi hotspots; invitations to supplier – buyer receptions; access to the IMEX online exhibitor appointment scheduling system plus open access to the full pre-show Smart Monday (Oct. 8) education program and the 150 education sessions running throughout the show from Oct 09 – 11.

One of the show’s high points again is its extensive, free professional development and education program. This year strategic partner and premier education provider, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) is the ‘power’ behind Smart Monday (yesterday – Oct. 8) and is also hosting daily morning keynotes in the famous Venetian Showroom Theatre. Over 150 other free education opportunities are taking place during the three day trade show including informal, small group campfires at the Technology Pavilion and the Sustainability Hub, plus case studies on meetings and events that have set new boundaries – such as the new ‘Visionary Events Series’ – each morning at the Inspiration Center. Both IAEE and PCMA will be holding “open to all” mini-education sessions at their booths.

IMEX App Shows What’s On Next
The IMEX App, sponsored by Freeman, will help all participants navigate around the show with ease and to plan their seminar attendance around business meetings. A “What’s On Next” feature will highlight all events taking place in the next hour and a new two way schedule synchronisation with the IMEX website allows buyers to update their appointment schedules on the move. The app also features information on attractions and discounts available across the city of Las Vegas plus the many social and networking events taking place at IMEX America. These include the ‘Euro Party’ on the show floor on Wednesday Oct 10 and the MPI Foundation Rendezvous – The IMEX America Night at PURE, Caesar’s Place – also on Wednesday.

New U.S. Travel Advocacy Forum
Another important and influential event will be today’s Political Advocacy Forum by the U.S. Travel Association (at 4pm). This hour and a half session will feature Mayor of Las Vegas, Carolyn Goodman, U.S Travel Association CEO, Roger Dow and Rossi Ralenkotter of the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority (and Chair of the U.S. Travel Association) talking about their respective and continuing efforts to ensure that political representatives understand the true economic value of the meetings industry.

Said IMEX Group Chairman, Ray Bloom: “Our pre-show schedule got off to a strong and exciting start yesterday with Smart Monday and Association Focus plus its evening reception – which was packed with association buyers and suppliers – as well as Site Nite North America, which was sold-out weeks in advance. I am also delighted to announce on our official opening day that IMEX America 2012 is substantially bigger this year with an even greater variety of exhibitors from across the US and around the world. Buyers have made an outstanding number of appointments with exhibitors in the past month and we are certain that an enormous amount of business will be done on the show floor and in the networking receptions over the coming three days.”