IMEX Group: Organizations Must Do More With Data, Tech in 2019

New Year’s resolutions aren’t just for individuals — they’re also for organizations. And in 2019, organizations that plan meetings and incentives will resolve to make better use of their assets. So predicts the IMEX Group, organizer of the annual IMEX in Frankfurt and IMEX America trade shows, which last week released its annual forecast for the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (aka MICE) industry.

“2018 has been the year when interest in live events, experiential activities, women in leadership, mental well-being and robots skyrocketed,” an IMEX press release noted. “In 2019, IMEX Group expects all these trends to continue; but what other trends does the international exhibition organizer see on the horizon? There’s one unifying storyline that can help us all make sense of 2019 before it arrives: how to leverage organizational assets.”

In particular, meeting and incentive planners will leverage the following assets in the year ahead, IMEX anticipates:

• Creativity. According to IMEX, MICE planners are under increased pressure to create “wow” moments for attendees and participants. In 2019, planners who feel the “pressure to delight” will therefore continue the drive toward experiential meetings and events by seeking out ever-more creative ways to impress audiences.

• Data. The MICE industry has spent years promoting the business value of meetings and incentives. What its arguments were missing, however, were strong financial data with which to support them. The industry now has such data thanks to the Events Industry Council’s “Global Economic Significance of Business Events” study, which recently revealed that business events generate $1 trillion in direct spending for the global economy every year. In 2019, IMEX says, the MICE industry will leverage this research to prove its value to external stakeholders, including national and regional governments capable of making pro-MICE policies and investments.

• Collaboration. Whether between industries, organizations, genders and/or generations, collaboration is the new innovation, according to IMEX, which cited an EY report in which the authors stated: “In a world of digital disruption and industry convergence, companies now often find they must collaborate to secure the skills, assets and support they need. Successful innovation, in particular, is difficult for any organization to achieve alone.”

• Technology. According to IMEX, technology remains an important asset for MICE planners, and social media will continue to drive meetings and incentives for the foreseeable future as planners seek “Instagrammable” and “Snapchatable” moments. Meanwhile, a new technology poised to impact the industry in 2019, reports IMEX, which cites the growing use of facial recognition for ticketing and security in transportation. “While many [MICE professionals] have taken it up, more will do so next year,” IMEX says.

• Sustainability. Sustainability has been an issue of import in the MICE industry for years. It took on new importance in 2018, however, with hoteliers’ focus on eliminating single-use plastics, like plastic straws and stirrers. Meeting and event planners will take up similar single-use-plastic bans in 2019, predicts IMEX, which also expects planners to move in greater numbers from vinyl to nonvinyl banners.

Concludes IMEX Group CEO Carina Bauer (pictured), “Ours is a diverse industry that needs to make the most of technology and every single asset it has while continuing to encourage social responsibility, inclusion and environmental awareness. Overall, these emerging trends present exciting opportunities, and one thing’s for certain: They’ll quickly disrupt the marketplace and raise expectations in ways that we can barely imagine.”