This year’s edition of IMEX America was the largest show yet, with more than 3,500 exhibitors from 150 countries filling three halls of Las Vegas’ Sands Expo and Convention Center. A record 13,000 participants took part in the event, including more than 3,300 hosted buyers. More than 70,000 appointments took place, 70 per cent of which had RFPs attached.
After three days of meetings, networking, and a series of big announcements, here’s what we learnt…
Greater industry collaboration is the future
Three leading industry associations, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), have joined forces to launch the Global MICE Collaborative, an initiative to help develop the MICE industry in emerging markets in Asia, Latin America and Africa.
“This is a ‘of best’ collaboration,” said SITE 2018 president Annamaria Ruffini. “We each had to put our egos aside to collaborate and serve the greater good.”
The new collaborative will provide competency-building and certification to develop the workforce, destination consulting, research and advocacy, and access to a vibrant community of more than 73,000 global MICE professionals.
“This is a long-term play, not a short-term play,” IAEE president and CEO, David DuBois, said. “The knowledge and synergy created between IAEE, MPI and SITE will have a positive lasting impact on the global MICE industry.”
Watch our exclusive interview with SITE CEO, Didier Scaillet, to learn more about the Global MICE Collaborative and what it means for Asia.
Politics plays out on the show floor
Despite the record-breaking number of exhibitors, bureaus from China and Macau were noticeably absent from the show floor.
As a result of the ongoing trade war between China and the United States (each country has introduced tariffs on traded goods), convention bureaus from mainland China and Macau chose not to attend IMEX America.
Greater Bay Area ripens for MICE
Pacific World has highlighted the Greater Bay Area along the Southern coast of China (Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macau and Shenzhen) as an emerging destination to watch in 2019.
“Investment in tourism mega projects will see the construction of new hotels, entertainment hubs, shopping arcades and theme parks, offering wonderful opportunities for multi-destinations meetings or incentive programmes,” said Pacific World business development manager, Dwirt Ang.
One of the most densely urbanised regions in the world, the Greater Bay Area is experiencing incomparable growth and new government-backed infrastructure projects such as the Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong Express Rail Link, and the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge (pictured above), are providing even greater accessibility.
Looking to leverage this growth, the Hong Kong Airport Authority recently acquired AsiaWorld-Expo Management Limited, which manages and operates the 70,000 sqm exhibition centre. The organisation also plans to expand the centre and develop the surrounding area with an integrated retail, dining and entertainment complex known as SkyCity (pictured below).
CK Ng, chairman and director of the board of AsiaWorld-Expo Management Limited, told Biz Events Asia the group is committed to supporting the future growth of the region’s convention and exhibition industry.
“It’s not about competition, it’s about drawing people into the region and into Hong Kong,” Ng said. “The whole region is now more accessible, connected and convenient than ever before. There is more demand [for meeting space] than what we can currently cater for so there’s no need to fight over the same piece of cake… these new development projects will change the Hong Kong dynamic quite a lot.”
Incentives on the rise in Asia
Incentive travel budgets are up and the number of qualifiers is increasing, according to a new study released by SITE, the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), and Financial and Insurance Conference Professionals (FICP).
The inaugural Incentive Travel Index surveyed more than 1,016 senior industry players across 86 countries. Fifty-four per cent of buyers reported an increase in budgets, with corporates spending an average of US$8,151 per person.
Globally, 65% of all buyers are increasing the number of qualifiers, but Asia is well ahead of the average, with a reported 73% increase (compared to 58% in the US and 67% in EU).
Wellness is the new golf
The Incentive Travel Index also revealed an increased interest in wellness. When asked about “inclusions” in incentive travel programmes, 86% of buyers highlighted wellness activities such as yoga and healthy meals. Meanwhile, CSR is seemingly falling out of favour with corporate buyers (down from 94% in 2017 to 73% in 2018).
MPI launches masters’ degree in meeting and event management
MPI is set to roll out a master’s degree in meeting and event management in partnership with Santiago State University. The 18-month course is scheduled to begin in August 2019 and is designed so that participants can study remotely and continue with usual employment.
“This is the first of its kind,” said MPI COO, Darren Temple. “Since launching the marketing campaign, more than 900 people have shown interest. The programme is designed not only to enhance skillsets, but to raise the status of the profession overall. It’s time meeting professionals receive the recognition they so richly deserve.”
MPI also announced a new partnership with C2 to showcase its experiential activations at various MPI events. However, when Biz Events Asia questioned whether the organisation is concerned by the recent cancellation of C2 Melbourne, MPI CEO Paul Van Deventer, admitted he had no knowledge of the cancellation.
He said: “We’re looking at how we can learn from the creative ways that they bring meetings to life. Their philosophy and approach to innovation is very different. I don’t look at [the partnership] as an investment in C2 as much as a learning from C2.”
SITE launches Pacific Chapter
SITE has officially entered the Asia Pacific region, with the establishment of its first-ever Pacific Chapter. Based in Sydney, the chapter will be led by Directions Conference and Incentive Management CEO, Damion Breust (pictured centre), with Marissa Fernandez, managing director of DMS, by his side. The announcement comes just four months ahead of the 2019 SITE Global Conference in Bangkok.
Meetings mean BIG business
The Events Industry Council released its Global Economic Significance of Business Events report. The research found that globally, business events generate more than US$1 trillion in direct spending, matching the consumer electronics sector in size.
IMEX Group chairman Ray Bloom said the research puts the industry’s economic contribution into clear perspective and “places it among the world’s leading business markets”.
High-speed wifi is now a basic necessity
Along with bricks and mortar, high-speed wifi is essential to the success of a convention and exhibition centre – and with the increasingly widespread use of wearable devices and the Internet of Things, this dependency will only increase. As such, IACC, the association that represents conference centres across the globe, has developed a ‘speed measuring’ app for event planners to assess the wifi capabilities of a particular venue based on the number of expected attendees. The app will be launched next month.
Workplace diversity boosts productivity
In a keynote address, marketing expert Kelly McDonald (pictured) shared tips on how to work effectively with different people. As the workplace becomes increasingly diverse, McDonald says conflict or difficulties can be overcome, using a smarter communication, empathy and common ground.
She explained: “Association planners work with the board and wider membership base. Corporate planners work with stakeholders, investors and customers. Both work with suppliers and vendors. This amounts to a wide range of people, backgrounds, opinions and personalities – and that can be of real business benefit.”
IAPCO sharpens focus on Africa
The International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) inked a partnership agreement with the Rwanda Convention Bureau as the organisation looks to expand its outreach in Africa.
Rwanda completes IAPCO’s stable of regionally exclusive global partnerships, and together they will look to create platforms for knowledge exchange, business and cultural understanding in Africa.
Cvent acquires Social Tables
Cvent announced its acquisition of Social Tables, an event diagramming, seating and collaboration platform. Cvent said the acquisition will help improve collaboration, create a more interactive sourcing experience and increase group sales at venues.