Event Trends From IMEX Frankfurt 2017
Summer, sunshine, IMEX! Event professionals from all over the world got together in Frankfurt from 16-18 May, not only to enjoy the truly beautiful weather during the three days, but also to indulge in trade show madness at one of the most renowned industry events for the MICE and event industry. This year, IMEX put a focus on purposeful meetings, technology, well-being and collaboration. What’s behind these trends?
1. Purposeful meetings
As the name suggests, it’s all about purpose! The idea is to raise attention towards meetings with high-quality content and a clear target on innovation and insider knowledge. Meetings that are based on the concept of "purposefulness" should be fun to follow, motivating, inspiring and have a long-term effect on participants. IMEX considers the following five areas as key for purposeful meetings: design thinking, behavioral science, health and wellbeing, social responsibility and technology. The topic “purposeful meetings” will be incorporated in future IMEX shows, too, and hence play a major role in their education and seminar programs.
The need for purposeful meetings surely doesn’t surprise industry professionals. Digital offerings and the massive usage of mobile devices make us less attentive, maybe even less patient. Participants have much shorter attention spans than they used to and this will even be more visible in future meetings. Clear targets and efficiency will be essential to reach attendees and engage them. Industry associations around the globe are creating frameworks and guidelines to support the idea of high-quality meetings. A recent example: The initiative “Future Meeting Space” led by the German Convention Bureau in collaboration with Fraunhofer IAO and EVVC, the European association for event venues.
The idea of purposeful meetings is furthermore reflected in the way we work, and much more importantly, in the way we want to work in the future. An increasingly digitized work environment allows us to automate tasks and to work smart instead of hard. The art of succeeding here certainly lies in the smartest possible way of using apps or other tools to create an efficient work environment (and not to get distracted by the flood of possibilities).
As we speak about purposeful meetings, we need to ask ourselves how the concept can be supported by technology. IMEX is the place for event technology providers to showcase their solutions and to push innovative ideas in the industry.
Technology is one of the main drivers of change in the event industry. The seminar program at IMEX offered various sessions on future meeting technology and the tech zone was packed with great ideas and innovations. The guided IMEX Tech Tours offered insights into technology exhibitors' solutions. Visitors were able to get to know new products and services and to exchange with other attendees during the tour.
Once again, IMEX managed to create a “healthy” environment of well-being in Frankfurt. With this theme, the show clearly reacts to the trend of visitors and exhibitors looking at healthy options during business travel. Coffee, cakes, sweets and heavy lunch-breaks are a thing of the past: More and more people seek to maintain their healthy lifestyle even during a trade show. Fruit and sugar-free drinks are very popular, especially among young event participants.
At this year’s IMEX, trade show participants had the possibility to attend Yoga and QiGong classes or try guided visualization and relaxation. The catering offerings included healthy drinks and snacks and some exhibitors offered smoothies, juices or other healthy options on their exhibition stand.
Conversations with event planners and venue event managers have shown that collaboration is another important topic to address within the meetings and events industry. As we look at future event formats, we also need to take a closer look at changing customer expectations. Planners and venues must be familiar with the changing needs and requirements of their customers. "Short and sweet" information chunks, interactive elements and healthy catering options will be indispensable for future meetings as a result of changing attendee needs at events, conferences and trade shows.
However, the changing expectations cannot be part of the planner’s burden only. Venues are very knowledgeable when it comes to delivering smooth events, so why not share experiences with planners? In the end, successful events are based on a common goal that venues and planners share: Customer satisfaction. Partnering up is therefore beneficial for both parties.
What were your key takeaways from IMEX? Comment below!