Last week over 14,000 Event and Marketing professionals gathered at Sands Expo in Las Vegas for the ninth annual IMEX America, the biggest event in the meetings industry’s calendar. With a record breaking number of attendees, this year’s exhibition gave professionals from around the globe the opportunity to explore trends and advancements that are impacting event services.
IMEX19’s session talking points focused on four central themes: imagination, event tech, experiential, and sustainability. So, what were the key takeaways from the biggest IMEX to date?
Imagination was announced as the main talking point for IMEX19 back in January, but what does Imagination really mean to the industry?
Carina Bauer, IMEX Group CEO, shone a light on the theme, explaining, “we now live in a world that’s changing faster than ever in history and a lot of that change is taking place in particular spaces such as the environment, health, infrastructure, travel and technology. Absolutely everything – and everyone – is connected or capable of becoming connected and the driving force behind all the positive changes we’re witnessing is the power of the human imagination – a uniquely human quality. So, we’re exploring and celebrating this aspect of being human – one that we frequently take for granted. Think of it as a human superpower; our instinct to ask, without judgement or limitation, ‘what if?’”
Throughout the event, attendees were asked to reflect on their curiosity and creativity – even their challenges and barriers to success – and discover how these all feed into Imagination. As meeting and event professionals, we all have this “human quality” Imagination and we need to harness and celebrate it as an industry to be able to further apply this quality to meetings and events.
Event Technology continues to constantly evolve, things like Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, facial recognition, biometrics and the Internet of Things are no longer reserved for hi-tech demonstrations, they’re now embedded throughout multiple different event touchpoints.
With all these new technologies, it’s easy to get caught up in what is new and shiny. Marketers and planners always need to remain focused on the goals they have and how they can leverage technology to reach their goals.
At Aventri, we know event and offline data is invaluable, that needs to be measured and optimized. How was the experience? What are the KPI’s that we are trying to optimize, too? What are the conversions like? What were the goals of the event and how do we measure and optimize them?
Wearable devices such as smart badges and biometric measurement tools offer new insights on the engagement levels of event attendees. With the added value of the Internet of Things, biometric and other wearable devices contribute to great experiences and these exciting new technologies can be deployed for better insights into attendee behavior and a greater return on investment.
Experiential Marketing is currently seeing a surge in growth and it’s no surprise when you consider it provides a great opportunity for consumers to interact directly with brands and build up a positive association.
Speaking at IMEX, Natasha Miller, President and Chief Experience Designer of Entire Productions, said, “in special events, if a brand, a product, or if a company holds a special event to thank their clients or to thank their internal team that is a whole different thing, it has to do with their culture, their products, and their success. But the Experiential Marketing events gets a brand’s target demographic involved personally and tactically.”
Hosting experiential events goes beyond planning and designing good events, it requires planners understand the psychology of Advertising, Branding, and Marketing. You need to identify your targeted audience and engage with their senses – allowing them to touch, feel, smell, taste, and enjoy the experience of the company’s product in person.
That’s the true value of experiential events, it’s a unique and fast way to develop one-to-one connections with audiences, by educating, improving perceptions and building an emotional association, which has been shown to drive brand loyalty.
We’re seeing a societal shift towards sustainable practices, with corporates in particular being subject to a magnifying glass on actions and behaviours, clients are calling for events to integrate sustainability.
Sustainability should not be seen as an enforced regulatory measure or unnecessary extra work for attendees and participants. Communication around sustainability is perhaps the single most important success factor. Vendors and partners need to be involved at every step. Participants should be made aware and encouraged to get involved in initiatives and it is the organiser’s job to make things simple and actions as easy and effective as possible.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – The Three R’s of sustainability are applicable to event planners and can be used in dealing with meeting materials from name badges to full exhibit booths and collateral. Using mobile apps, digital signage and online document sharing are great ways to also minimise single use signage and collateral.
In 2020, IMEX America will be celebrating a decade since its inception and will focus on the talking point of “nature”.