IMEX Las Vegas: Chris’ International Insight

IMEX USA claims to be the biggest events industry expo, with this year’s event attracting 15,029 attendees from all around the globe. This year the event welcomed 5,364 buyers, 3,443 exhibiting companies from 150 countries, and facilitated more than 80,000 appointments. I was one of these buyers, hosted by one of our favourite hotel partners, Mandarin Oriental.

IMEX Las Vegas 2023

I have attended almost every IMEX USA since it began in 2011. It’s not quite as old as the Euro-version, held in Frankfurt since 2003, but it’s almost 50% bigger.

IMEX USA is a must-see event for any serious event professional, because quite simply, everyone who is anyone in the events world is there.

The community is split into exhibitors, with something to sell, buyers, with big budgets to spend, press, and delegates from the general meetings and events community wanting to heighten their knowledge of what’s new and what’s hot.

Buyers are generally hosted by an exhibitor, which means they attend as a guest, with travel and accommodation expenses taken care of. Depending on the host there may also be some add-ons to enrich the buyer’s experience further. These add-ons may include a pre-show fam trip to showcase a destination or hotel, or a unique experience which can then be promoted to the buyer’s clients. My hosts, Mandarin Oriental, treated their hosted buyers to a night-flight over the Las Vegas trip, which having experienced it, I would certainly make this a key element of any incentive programme to Las Vegas, it was breath-taking.

For the core 3-days of the show, buyers are encouraged to schedule one-on-one appointments with exhibitors that interest them and their clients back home. The IMEX website makes this very easy and operates a Tinder-like system that tried to match buyers with exhibitors, so if you both ‘swipe right’, you are more likely to get an appointment.

IMEX Venue

The event is held at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Convention Centre which has 2.1 million square feet of expo space, 3,209 bedrooms and a footprint of 120 acres! Squeezing an average of 8-15 appointments into each packed day meant I smashed 20,000 daily steps, and that’s on top of my 6am daily visit to the hotel gym, due to punishing jet lag. Evenings are equally packed, with various parties and events hosted by international hotel groups, local venues, and global associations. The MPI party has the reputation for the biggest, best and not-to-be-missed.

As well as leaving the event armed with the very latest on where and what is hot for events and incentives, I also managed to catch up with most of my long-standing friends and colleagues across the wonderful world of global events. This really is a fantastic industry, filled with excitement, passion, and creativity, and IMEX manages to tap into this with well-tuned style and substance.

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