For the first time, The BNC was invited to take its own group of members as part of a hosted buyer scheme to this year’s IMEX – writes Melissa Ruel.
Fast becoming the trade show favourite, the international newcomer, IMEX (the worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events) had its best year yet. Visitor numbers were up by several hundred from 7130 to 7,600; 3,400 of which were hosted buyers from over 57 countries! Buyers traveled from as far as South Africa, India, Russia, the UAE and over 20 global airlines were partners in bringing the MICE world together in Frankfurt.
Flying from Gatwick direct to Frankfurt The BNC group left on May 31st for a one-night visit to the exhibition. Upon arrival they went directly to the Messe Frankurt, home to the four-year-old IMEX. With excellent air conditioning, with lots of room and plenty of natural daylight the Messe Frankurt is an ideal location for an event of this type.
After a successful day at the show our group of seven were guests of Visit London who held a party at Frankfurter Botschaft. A gourmet dinner was prepared by the venue’s chefs, who worked alongside chefs from Fifteen, Jamie Oliver’s London restaurant. Our group spent a night of networking with BNC preferred suppliers and with 25 representatives from Visit London.
The following day was spent at IMEX before flying back to the UK. Many BNC Preferred Suppliers were exhibiting, such as the Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau, Malta’s Alpine Sterling and South Africa’s Walthers DMC.
The BNC group had a positive experience at the show, all commenting that it was a worthwhile opportunity to network and to make new contacts. Sue Keyes, Exhibition Manager for Janes, gives her account of IMEX and other trade shows.
“This was my first trip to IMEX. From my point of view it was invaluable. I have recently taken on corporate hospitality for my EMEA sales team and needed to find DMCs and venues in various parts of Europe in which to entertain our clients. I was after information which would help me plan events for locals (not bringing UK clients to Europe).
“I came away with some great contacts but I didn’t have time to compare DMCs from the same country. I basically chose one and arranged a meeting with them – if I’d chosen badly I will have to wait for the next show (or ask the group) to meet another.
“The pre-appointment system was good except that the four group appointments meant less personal meetings I could have had which met my needs better. I also didn’t have any time left to wander and explore…..
“I have been to EIBTM several times (last trip last time in Geneva) – I think EIBTM is much larger and busier than IMEX was this year and therefore IMEX was much easier to get around and less intimidating. I also visit CONFEX regularly and actually find CONFEX better in many ways because it has the extra elements of suppliers and UK venues as well as the European and of course being on the doorstep makes it much more accessible. Although for that same reason it is easier to put off and therefore miss altogether.
“All in all (this year particularly) the international shows have been - and are - an extremely useful tool, but I would find it hard to justify visiting every year if I had no real objective.”
Louise Spooner, from Mercer, adds: “I think IMEX is great. I have been twice and found it really useful both times. It is much less hectic than other shows like Confex and much more relevant.”
“IMEX is constructed with an abundance of ingenuity and the show itself has a great energy to it,” reports Kim Paulden, who led The BNC group. “With each year it catches people’s imagination and enthusiasm with new ideas, more forums for discussion and it embraces new technology such as this year’s mobile phone ‘Exhibition Assistant’. Much praise is also given to IMEX for its growing support and emphasis on CSR, where special kudos is given to suppliers who are ‘green’ and who put special effort into making a difference in their part of the world.
Summing up the success of IMEX, Chairman, Ray Bloom, said: “Germany is our home. We have tremendous partners in the German Convention Bureau and in the management team here at Messe Frankfurt who have played a critical part in our success so far.
“I am extremely pleased to announce the dates for IMEX over the next five years: 17th – 19th April 2007, 22nd – 24th April 2008, 26th – 28th May 2009, 25th - 27th May 2010 and 24th – 26th May 2011. Our message is clear: IMEX has vision, it has heart, it has imagination and, above all, it has a dedication to generating business that, I believe, is unparalleled across the industry.
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