Conference & Meetings World Issue 102 - Page 27

IMEX America love our appointment system such that we have to call people up and point out they’ve left no time for lunch or a break. Now we work to ‘recommendations’. We recommend hosted buyers make up to eight appointments a day and this can be a mix of group appointments, stand presentations (open to everyone) and individual one-to-ones. Truth is, we work on trust. We have very few who abuse that trust. It’s an unusual business model but it works for us. Our feedback shows that our hosted buyers appreciate being treated like grown-ups. Is it hard managing the show from the UK? We’ve got so used to designing and delivering international shows from our base in Brighton that I can’t imagine running the IMEX business any other way. Our team are highly experienced in managing shows abroad. We don’t have permanent staff in North America but are helped enormously by having consultants and our New York marketing agency, Dana, on our side. Together with IMEX America’s Strategic Partners, MPI, plus other association partners, they ensure we are finely tuned to the North American market. The power of imagination is a big topic this year… This year’s Talking Point virtually chose itself because it’s all around us – we now live in a world that’s changing faster than ever, much of this driven by technology. The power of imagination is one that’s uniquely human (as far as we know!) and it’s highly prized. As EventMB’s Julius Solaris puts it in our Imagination research report, which we’ll launch at the show, “The bar has been raised for our industry. If event experiences are the natural evolution of events, imagination is the driving force behind this change. This change is ultimately what the next few years will be about.” Smart Monday has a TED talk speaker delivering a keynote. How did he come on to your radar? A couple of the IMEX team had heard Phil Hansen speak, but when I heard him at the Site Global conference in Bangkok I knew that his story and expertise would help us bring our Imagination Talking Point to life in an engaging and playful way. This crossover between art and events is also a really interesting space. Although Phil isn’t about to persuade everyone to become an artist, he makes a compelling argument for how to change your perspective and how to apply that to your everyday work. And who isn’t intrigued by a man who can paint using a hamburger? What are the main differences in the kind of tasks your teams face in Las Vegas compared with Frankfurt? In Vegas we’re dealing with Nevada state labour laws. We know these inside out now but in the early days they proved a very steep learning curve. Also, the build-up of the show is entirely different in Vegas where stands are typically delivered in a modular system which is then assembled onsite (less labour and less weight). In Europe, however, the stands are often fully constructed by carpenters, welders, painters, so the construction process is more complex and frequently a lot more messy. How will you manage to raise the bar in the area of sustainability at the show this year? This year we’ve launched a sustainability pledge, encouraging exhibitors to commit to three green actions to minimise environmental impact at the show. This can include reducing all single use plastic, using public transport and a sustainability education session. We share what we learn, running education on sustainability at our shows – look out for our new ‘sustainability superheroes’ panel. For everything we do, we look at ways we could do it more sustainably, benchmarking our performance against industry standards such as the APEX/ ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Event Standard. We’re proud to have achieved an increased APEX/ASTM Level 1 score of 93% for IMEX America. As far as we know no other tradeshow on the planet has ever got this far. Above: Changing dates but the IMEX song remains the same What is your own personal favourite addition to the show’s content? One particular education workshop we’re offering at the show is one I’ve done myself, courtesy of SITE. InsideRisk are hosting an interactive session on Smart Monday (our pre-show day of education) – What kind of leader are you under maximum pressure? It’s based on the true story of Swiss executive J.P. Mottu, who in 1988 found himself in charge of saving a young engineer kidnapped by Colombian rebels. The programme thrusts everyone into real-life hostage negotiations, using techniques and information that’s been a secret for over 25 years. It’s a truly immersive and dramatic experience. I learned a lot about my own behaviour and decision-making under pressure…oh, and we weren’t allowed to use our phones. “We work on trust. We have very few [hosted buyers] that abuse that trust.” ISSUE 102 / CONFERENCE & MEETINGS WORLD / 27