IMEX America Preview: Q&A With IMEX Group CEO Carina Bauer

September 26, 2023

IMEX America is less than one month out. Are you prepped and ready for the global gathering for the business events industry? This year’s event runs Oct. 17-19 at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

TSNN has the inside scoop on what you need to know about IMEX America 2023 — whether you are a first-timer or regular attendee. 

Launched in 2011 in Las Vegas, IMEX America is produced by IMEX Group, which also produces IMEX Frankfurt. Last year, IMEX America drew more than 4,000 buyers from 69 countries and more than 3,300 exhibiting companies from 180+ countries, according to an IMEX press release. In terms of business meetings, the show reported 62,000 appointments between buyers and suppliers over three days. 

Attendance and exhibiting companies are expected to be up year-over-year, according to IMEX Group CEO Carina Bauer.

“All parts of the show have grown, and we really see it as a reflection of our marketplace, which is rebounding strongly now,” she said. “It will absolutely be the biggest show for buyers and exhibitors this year — without a doubt.”

We caught up with Bauer to get a high-level preview of the event, and she shared insider tips for making the most of the meeting. The key: Plan ahead. 

IMEX expo floor

“Spend a little bit of time planning your meetings and your content,” Bauer advised. “Get it all into the IMEX schedule because that's where you'll make the most of the meeting.” 

As of Sept. 11, attendees can log into the IMEX web site, create their profiles and start researching exhibitors, while exhibitors could log in and post their events. Beginning Sept. 18, attendees can add education and events into their schedules.

Here are excerpts from our conversation with some key highlights for planning purposes. Watch or listen to our full interview here.

IMEX America 2023

When: Oct. 17-19

Where: Mandalay Bay Convention Center, which offers 2.1 million square feet of exhibit and meeting space, in Las Vegas. The venue is just 4 miles from the Harry Reid International Airport. 

Who attends: 4,000+ buyers from 69 countries attended last year. This year, Bauer is predicting more than 4,500 global business event buyers, including corporate, association, incentive, meetings, trade show and more.

Who exhibits: 3,300+ companies from 180+ countries exhibited last year. Bauer told us the show will have about 3,500 organizations, including destinations, hotels, convention centers and the entire supply chain, from transportation and cruise lines to production and technology companies.

What attendees will notice on the show floor: Many North American cities are increasing their presence on the show floor, Bauer said. “It will be the biggest-ever presence from North American destinations and hotel groups and convention centers.” There will also be an increased international presence, particularly from Asia, with Vietnam exhibiting for the first time, she added.

Encore activation

What’s one must-see activation: Encore’s immersive theater, which generated a major buzz with its activation last year. It will be even more integrated into the Inspiration Hub, Bauer said. This year’s theme is Break Free: Continuing the Journey. “Discover the thought-provoking factor of full sensory immersion that challenges preconceived notions of events and how we work together inclusively for all. Walk away with inspiration and tools to design for inclusion and belonging,” according to the IMEX website. Book time here.

What’s on the program: There are more than 150 education sessions over four days. Here’s a link to some of the education highlights. “We've also redesigned the whole education area to make it much more cohesive,” Bauer said. She recommended Event Profs Unplugged. “It's like a talk show program every morning for one and a half hours, but they're in six- to eight-minute segments so you can dip in and out,” she added. 

What’s new in 2023: Google Xi’s new CoLaboratory. With a focus on collaborative exploration, learning and growth, Google and various exhibiting partners and speakers have devised a special program of sessions and spaces focused on experience design and the principles of belonging. “Google actually experimented with this in Frankfurt, and we're bringing it in an even bigger, more integrated way into the education program for IMEX America,” Bauer said. 

What first-timers need to know: IMEX offers tips for first-timers here. “We're going to be doing some webinars pre-show for first timers,” Bauer said. “We'll also have some tours for first timers on Tuesday morning to help people navigate the show, get your bearings. I would encourage people to do that, and our team will be there to support them and help them make the most of their experience.”

Pro tip: “For those who haven't been before, if you really love your content and want a deeper dive, come in for Smart Monday,” advised Bauer. There are a variety of education events, including Corporate Focus, Skift Innovation Lab, Association Leadership Forum and more. A full list of events on Monday, Oct. 16, can be found here.

IMEX runners

What networking activities are planned: There are typically about 200 exhibitor events, and Bauer recommends reviewing the full schedule of exhibitor events. “We have a lot of different types of events going on — from high-octane networking events to fitness sessions in the morning,” Bauer said. “People can craft their journey through the show but that needs a bit of planning.”

What’s the biggest party: MPI Foundation’s Rendezvous at Drais on Wed., Oct. 18.

Pro tip: “If you want to go, buy a ticket early because it sold out last year for the first ever,” Bauer suggested. “The show is bigger this year, so I really would encourage people to do that.”

What tours are available: On Mon., Oct. 16, IMEX is offering tours of MGM’s solar array in the Nevada desert and Area 15.

What attendees need to know about the show’s sustainable initiatives: “I am really proud of our waste diversion rate,” Bauer said. “We are a classified zero-waste event, which means we're able to reuse or recycle over 90% of the waste from the show.” In August, IMEX published its Net Zero Strategy, which outlines IMEX’s roadmap to deliver net zero events and operate a net zero business by 2030.

Take note: “On the menus, you can actually see the carbon footprint and which choices are more sustainable from a water perspective or from a miles perspective,” Bauer said. “Those things are more visible, and I hope it will help people to make better choices.”

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