Places + Spaces

IMEX America Doubles Down

If you need one final sign that the backlash is over - against meetings, and Las Vegas, and meetings in Las Vegas - direct your attention to IMEX America, the Las Vegas–based meetings and incentives trade show.

In only its second year, IMEX America – held on Oct. 9–11 at the Sands Expo & Convention Center – saw a 20-percent increase in hosted buyers, to 2,400, and a 63-percent increase in show-floor appointments, to more than 38,000. That’s on top of 2,413 exhibiting companies and another 1,500 attendees.

“From last year, there has been extra demand for space, there’s no doubt about that,” IMEX Group Chairman Ray Bloom said in an interview with IMEX TV during the show. “And because of that, the halls that we are in are actually full, and in fact there were some exhibitors that wanted to participate who we couldn’t accommodate.” IMEX America had already planned to move into bigger exhibit space in the Sands Expo next year, but thanks to this year’s numbers, Bloom said, “plans are [also] already afoot for a considerable increase in the hosted-buyer program for 2013.”

In addition to a robust exhibit hall, highlights of IMEX America 2012 included Smart Monday, a day-long education program powered by MPI; Association Focus, which offered education sessions from ASAE, ICCA, and PCMA for association executives only; a first-ever Political Advocacy Forum, hosted by the U.S. Travel Association; EURO Party, a reception that sprawled throughout the booths of the European zone on the show floor late-afternoon on Wednesday; and PCMA’s Global Professionals Conference, which co-located with IMEX America on Oct. 11–12.

The use of allied organizations was far from accidental, even if IMEX America itself wasn’t something that Bloom had always foreseen. “We’ve been working with the United States – with the trade associations here – from the very beginning,” Bloom said. “…I’m very familiar with the industry here. I’ve been coming here since I started in this business. I didn’t know that I was going to be launching a show in North America. I’m thrilled to have done so.”

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Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso formerly was executive editor of Convene.