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June 10, 2008

IMEX six-year high reveals vibrant global conference sector

International meetings and event exhibition IMEX 2008 produced particularly strong results for its sixth exhibition at Messe Frankfurt this year, as revealed by final figures released by organisers Regent Exhibitions recently.

This follows equally impressive figures from Reeds Exhibition’s GIBTM and EIBTM held earlier in the year, showing meetings and events industry professionals are hungrier than ever for new ideas and global networking opportunities.

The total buyer increase was 5.3% against the previous year, with hosted buyer and trade visitor numbers up to 8,751 from 8,310 in 2007.

Much of this increase was attributed to a higher number of hosted buyers attending from markets beyond Western Europe, as well as a 10.5% increase in the number of German trade visitors attending.

The rise in German visitor numbers is largely the result of a highly targeted and extensive marketing campaign conducted with strategic partners, The German
Convention Bureau. The campaign targeted German meetings industry buyers, as well as those secondary audiences that are becoming increasingly influential within the German meetings market, namely brand and event managers and business travel managers. Aside from the USA, the German outbound market is the second largest in the world, and IMEX is keen to stress its commitment to increasing its penetration of this market year on year for the benefit of exhibitors.

IMEX also succeeded in fulfilling its objective to secure a larger number of association meetings buyers. As event director Ray Bloom reminded his audience at the show’s closing press conference: "Many of the world’s congress centres do not do a great deal of business with corporate buyers. Their sole focus is the large association meetings, so it is important that we deliver these buyers to the show, in addition to all the other groups we attract."

As a proportion of total hosted buyers at IMEX, association buyer numbers rose to 12.5%, up from 11% last year, with a record 270 buyers from 30 global markets attending the show’s Association Day.

Improvements to the IMEX online diary system also led to a surge in pre-organised appointments by hosted buyers this year. More than 40,000 appointments were made online in the six weeks prior to the show, of which 30,000 were made by individuals, with the remaining 10,000 representing the successful group appointment system run by the IMEX organisers. This represents an increase in prearranged appointments since 2007 of more than 30%. The pharmaceutical sector dominated in terms of businesses represented at IMEX 2008, followed by financial and banking buyers and the electronics, telecoms and IT sector. 

IMEX 2008 was also the greenest yet, with innovations such as the use of hydroelectric power, recyclable plastic badges, the use of bio-diesel fuels and anti-idling policies on shuttle buses, as well as strict policies on food, paper and waste recycling. Next year all exhibitors will have the option of using green energy for their power supply during the exhibition.

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