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IMEX, MPI Show Unity and Industry Strength with Record-Setting IMEX America

IMEX America 2017

A week that began with somber reflection and a moment of silence to honor the victims of the Las Vegas shooting ended with a sense of unity and strength for the meeting and event industry.

IMEX America, the largest meeting and event industry trade show in the United States, concluded its seventh annual event Thursday at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in record-breaking fashion, but the big winner was the city of Las Vegas and its juggernaut conference business.

“I’m grateful to see the industry come together this week,” said Ray Bloom, chair of IMEX Group. “It was fantastic to see the camaraderie to support Las Vegas.”

Less than a week ago, the city was reeling after a shooter on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest festival across the street, killing 58 people in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Another 500 people were injured.

As a city dependent on meetings, events and tourism, industry leaders, after first reaching out to support those impacted by the tragic event, turned their concern to how the shooting would impact an important economic driver.

Instead, IMEX America, along with its strategic partner Meeting Professionals International, responded with a record of more than 12,000 exhibitors, hosted buyers and attendees at this year’s event. The more than 3,200 hosted buyers, an additional 2,500 attendees and 3,300 exhibitors representing 150 countries resulted in the largest ever IMEX America.

“It’s been a difficult time for Las Vegas,” said Cathy Tull, senior vice president of marketing for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “We have seen the greatest in humanity in the aftermath of this tragedy. Everyone has been steadfast in their commitment to move forward. We received many calls from people asking how they can help. We asked them to keep your plans to visit. It is important for us to see that support.”

Tull said the 12,000 attendees generated US$24 million for the Las Vegas economy during the show, which began with MPI’s Smart Monday day of education and ended Thursday. There are more than 85,000 jobs in Las Vegas that depend on the hospitality and meeting and event industry with a $12 billion economic impact.

Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of MPI, began Smart Monday with a message to the many communities that have been impacted in the last month by hurricanes, flooding and the Las Vegas shooting. He was joined on stage for a moment of silence by industry colleagues Bloom; Brian Stevens, CEO of Conference Direct and chair of MPI’s International Board of Directors; keynote speaker Janet Sperstad; Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group; Chandra Allison, senior vice president of sales at The Venetian/The Palazzo Resort Hotel & Casino; Bradley Kent, senior vice president/chief sales officer for Visit Dallas; Richard Harper, executive vice president, HelmsBriscoe; and Michael Massari, senior vice president, Caesars Entertainment.

MPI would deliver 30 different education sessions on Smart Monday with four keynotes each morning during IMEX America. About 850 unique attendees participated in Smart Monday along with 1,827 total scans, reflecting attendance at multiple sessions. There were more than 1,300 attendees for the keynote sessions, Van Deventer said.

The MPI Foundation raised about $400,000 at two events during the week, Rendezvous and the MPI Foundation Wine Auction. More than 2,000 people attended Rendezvous, the IMEX America Night. Funds raised from both events will be invested in scholarships, grants and pan-industry research, all of which will help secure the future success of the meeting and event industry.

MPI also provided booth education throughout the week.

Bloom said 58 booths at IMEX America, 20 percent of returning exhibitors, booked larger spaces and the show welcomed 64 new booths. He said 72 percent of the 70,000 appointments were based on RFPs, an increase of four percent.

“For exhibitors and buyers this simply means that we’ve created more opportunities than ever to do business,” Bloom said. “The has been a week when the positive outlook of everyone has ensured that doing business, planning meetings and events continues to be a powerful way to regenerate and drive economies forward.”


About the Author

Rich
Rich Luna

Rich Luna is director of publishing for MPI and editor in chief of The Meeting Professional.