The eighth annual IMEX America ended on a high note yesterday. At the show's final press conference, Ray Bloom, chairman of the IMEX Group reported that a record of over 13,000 participants took part in the event, and among them were 6,000-plus attendees including more than 3,300 hosted buyers. Over 70,000 appointments were made, including 64,000 individual appointments and booth presentations -- an increase of 7 per cent. "This was the largest ever IMEX," said Bloom.
Over 3,500 exhibitors representing 150 countries were present at the show.
"Going into IMEX we had a concern that the impending tariffs and the fear of an economic turndown might create issues for companies as they plan for 2019 and beyond. Although this concern was in conversations, there is no indication that it is impacting their travel and product decisions. We came out of IMEX with excellent opportunities for our product portfolio in consumer and employee recognition," said Paul Gordon, senior vice president sales, Rymax Marketing Services, Inc.
A significant factor in the growth of the show was its ability to expand into the adjoining hall. "This created space for the arrival of more than 60 new booths while enabling 81 booths to take larger spaces," said Bloom. The additional space enabled the exhibitors to create immersive experiences that highlighted the creativity and cultures of their destinations.
Freddy Flynn, senior director of event sales, Universal Orlando said, "This year's IMEX America was one of the most successful shows for us to date. We've seen an increase in clients asking about unique and customizable experiences that really wow attendees and bring their meeting or events to life."
Commenting on the energy and experiences at IMEX America 2018, Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX said, "It's been a great week of business and a great week of trying and learning new things. People from North America and all over the world have shared opportunities, smiles and connections. We've walked with giant puppets, talked to robots, synched-up in campfires and keynotes, and taken VR trips. Our industry has once again showed its vibrant personality and insatiable appetite for growth and innovation."
That creativity paid dividends for exhibitors as Ray Bloom reported that 70 percent of appointments had RFPs attached. "Over the course of three days, we've had a chance to meet with hundreds of IMEX attendees and the experience for our sales team has been amazing. Our appointments in the booth are up 30 percent from last year. We're excited about the momentum we have coming out of the show," said Ross Hosking, vice president of sales and distribution, Americas, for Radisson Hotel Group.
But exhibitors weren't the only winners at this year's show. Cathy Tull, chief marketing officer of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported that IMEX America 2018 had an economic impact of $19 million on the city of Las Vegas. Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of MPI said that Monday's Education Day attracted 850 attendees and that the 15 sessions that took place on the show floor brought the number up to 1,200 education attendees throughout the show. Further, the MPI Foundation raised close to $400,000 dollars from evening events.
"This was the strongest week ever in the history of our partnership with IMEX," said Deventer.
Leo Jakobson contributed reporting to this story.