If you are working in the MICE industry, you know IMEX! Today we will take you behind the scenes. In our first edition of the IMEX backstage series, Kit Watts, a member of the IMEX group PR team, will reveal some of the key factors of this successful tradeshow.
We are working with you all day long: who is the IMEX team?
The number of employees at IMEX (which is based in Hove, near Brighton, on the south coast of England) rises to around 40 just before IMEX America. We take on a variety of students at different times of the year, as well as temps. They help with visas, flight arrangements, calling up buyers and exhibitors to help with their travel plans or to check problems with their diaries. Many people would be surprised to discover just how many calls we make and what level or service we aim to provide to ensure that all IMEX attendees are happy.
IMEX is a private, family-run company. Ray Bloom is the IMEX Group Chairman and his daughter, Carina Bauer, is the CEO.
Several of the senior staff members have worked with Ray for many years and through a variety of his shows. They include Christopher Perrins, Director of Business Services, Nikki Williams, Director of Hosted Buyer Programs and Dale Hudson, Knowledge and Events Director.
The 2 annual editions of IMEX take place in Europe (Frankfurt) and in America (Las Vegas for November 2013). What does it mean in terms of an organization working in different continents?
The German and US markets are entirely different. There are different customs laws, different labor laws, different visa requirements, different charging structures…the list goes on and on. However, in both cases we are extremely fortunate to work with excellent local partners. We also enjoy strong working relationships with the facilities operators at both the Sands Expo and Messe Frankfurt. So, in many ways, although it might look as though we can simply duplicate the show from one country to another, it simply doesn’t work that way. Even regulations to do with how and where we can place signage are distinctly different between the two show locations.
What do the IMEX team members love about IMEX and why?
Although the team is getting bigger all the time, IMEX is essentially a fun place to work. Offices are open-plan, teams are informal and there is generally a lot of laughter and collaboration. IMEX’s chairman takes a personal interest in what everyone is doing and makes a point of saying hello to everyone individually when he comes into the office. There is also a culture of innovation at IMEX. If someone has a bright idea that’s relevant and IMEX’s team thinks they can make it work, 9 times out of 10 they will be given permission to go out and put their idea to the test.. IMEX has never been scared of taking risks. Team members know that risk can mean failure, but it’s also part of culture to support the long-term success of the meetings and events industry. This often means investing in something and bringing it to life when others won’t touch it! Other times that means running projects or initiatives that are ahead of their time (green meetings awards, politicians forum, future leaders programs….etc). All of these IMEX Vision initiatives demand a great deal of work and commitment, and while they don’t necessarily appear to add to the bottom line of business, it’s important to take a long-term view of what’s beneficial to the whole industry. That commitment comes from the heart.
What do IMEX members look forward to doing/seeing while in Las Vegas (do they even have the time or energy to do anything outside of the show??)
There is SO much to do in Vegas but IMEX America itself will also keep you very busy. Our top tips are always to ask your concierge or to visit the LVCVA booth to get some helpful tips . Also if you take a look at the IMEX YouTube channel there’s a “48 hours in Las Vegas” video by Simon Calder, an independent travel correspondent from the UK. It’s a really good way to get a grip on what the city has to offer, and also how to do it on a budget. As for the IMEX team, they’ve managed to see some good shows over the years, with Jersey Boys and the new Michael Jackson Cirque show among those that left a lasting impression. Being a ‘foodie’ and a coffee-loving company, there are generally a lot of chats about good places to eat and good shops to buy chocolates, cakes or other delicacies from. (Ray used to own and run a chain of coffee shops before launching IMEX – in between running other shows – so we have a strong ‘coffee’ heritage!). Carina’s suggestions for Las Vegas include CUT at The Palazzo…if you love steak and are not on a budget. SushiSamba as a fantastic place for sushi fans who like something a bit unusual. And she says you can’t beat the sliders and beignet at Society Cafe at The Encore. Finally, last time she visited, she rated La Case at The Wynn as “best for coffee.”
What about some of the more crunchy details/requests or interesting stories?
We’ve had all sorts of strange requests over the years but nothing we’ve not been able to handle with style….and part of that style is keeping them a secret so as not to embarrass anyone. Discretion is our middle name!
However, one part of IMEX life that is worth sharing is the work we do in the local community as part of our commitment to CSR. Over the years that has included Carina, Nikki, Jon Bradshaw and others in the meetings industry climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for charity.
More recently under the banner of the ‘IMEX Challenge’, we have also helped to build a bee colony in Ljubljana, Slovenia. 15 people from across the meetings industry had the opportunity to work together with staff and patients at CUDV Draga – a residential Care Centre for mentally and physically handicapped children and adults – and the Slovenian BeBee campaign, which supports the habitat of declining bee colonies.
We have a very new and exciting IMEX Challenge planned for 2014 that will be taking place in Las Vegas for the benefit of The Shade Tree refuge for women, children and their pets. Host sponsors, GES and Sands Cares are onside and we’ll be making a full announcement at the show.
We Love: The IMEX Recipe cards – members of the industry share their favorite recipe and explain what makes the recipe special for them!
We Like: The IMEX Facebook page to discover pictures, team spirit and company philosophy.
We Follow: IMEX on twitter: @IMEX_Group – #IMEX13 and IMEX on LinkedIN
Written by: Ellen Seguin