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IMEX exerts international ‘magnetism’ in 2008

A combination of a rise in long-haul hosted buyers, increased German visitor numbers and its largest ever educational programme will set IMEX 2008 apart when the international meetings industry exhibition opens at Messe Frankfurt on Tuesday.

The award-winning trade show will provide a vibrant business platform to the 3,500 exhibiting companies and an anticipated 3,600 hosted buyers from over 50 global markets this week. Its international scope and diversity, together with its lead on industry issues, makes IMEX the hallmark worldwide exhibition that meet the needs of meetings industry buyers and suppliers.

IMEX 2008 will also be the ‘greenest’ IMEX to take place so far. A combination of hydroelectric green energy, recycling paper, food and other waste and the use of recycled and compostable materials for items such as badges and delegate bags all go to make IMEX 2008 a benchmark environmental event.

An extra 19 new long-haul hosted buyer groups will be attending IMEX this year, with the US and Canada accounting for 22 groups and Latin America eight. IMEX organisers have also achieved an increase in African and Middle Eastern representation (10 groups) and will welcome a further 30 groups from Eastern Europe, including 18 from Russia. From Asia Pacific there will be 5 chinese groups and 4 Australian, in addition to hosted buyers from India and Singapore.

Demand for exhibition space has been exceptional in the run-up to the exhibition with the US area in particular showing strong growth.  Many existing IMEX exhibitors from across all industry sectors have increased their stand sizes by significant margins. These include Emirate Airlines by 36%, Tourism Australia by 40%, Bulgaria by 85%, Florida by 68% and Argentina by 36%. Other notable increases come from Morgans Hotel Group, Silversea Cruises, Japan, South Africa and Kuoni. European destinations together with the hotel sector and private sector suppliers have accounted for a large proportion of the 2008 growth.

Another indicator of business confidence – the number and quality of new exhibitors – is also strong this year. California Tourism, the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau, Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for Indonesia and Ukraine are among the line up of new exhibitors. New hotel groups for 2008 include Iberostar, Capella Hotels and Resorts, Prestige Hotels of the World, Protur, Leonardo Hotels and Preferred Hotel Group.

As in previous years, one of the focal points of the exhibition will be the German Convention Bureau’s striking two-storey pavilion. This will provide an impressive showcase for 150 German meetings market suppliers, including three new German Wild Card winners. As a result of an extended and highly targeted marketing campaign to German buyers, including Germany marketing managers, IMEX forecasts a substantial rise in the number of German buyers attending this year’s show.  The German outbound market remains one of the most influential in Europe (together with the UK), and delivering strong representation from this sector is an important factor in IMEX’s ‘magnetic’ market appeal.

Ongoing trends within all three German-speaking markets are also examined in detail each year by IMEX research partner, the Travel Marketing Factory, whose MICE Market Monitor provides valuable insight into buyers’ changing needs.

For the first time, the IMEX educational programme now extends to 58 seminars and workshops including 15 German seminars and six seminars organised by major industry trade associations. In addition, visitors will be able to participate in 16 workshops on the CIC-sponsored Professional Development Pavilion.

Included in this extended educational offering is the IMEX Corporate Programme, which provides a day of tailor-made presentations specifically for corporate buyers. Organised in partnership with trade association, Eventia, the programme is now open to buyers from all world markets with the result that 100 corporate delegates will attend this year’s sessions.

The IMEX New Vision programme is now a well-established platform for encouraging fresh thinking, supporting professional education and driving change. Testimony to its growth is the Future Leaders Forum (FLF), which is organised in partnership with MPI. This year the FLF will welcome 160 students to Messe Frankfurt over two days. The international programme now offers the industry’s most promising young students eight different Forums across Europe, Asia and the North America.

Other parts of the New Vision programme that have gone from strength to strength include The Politicians Forum, which this year welcomes more than 80 politicians and VIPS; the Corporate Responsibility Centre, Cross Cultural education and the Women’s Forum, which will run over two days.

Commenting on the advances made by IMEX, Chairman, Ray Bloom, explains, "IMEX never stands still – and that’s because it reflects and responds to the dynamism and ambition of the international meetings industry. The next three days will be marked by our customary mix of high energy, expectation and revitalised business relationships. We aim to underpin every element of the show with "IMEX intelligence" – an approach to business that ensures everyone goes away satisfied, better informed, more motivated and with more business in hand than before they came."

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.