Fifty five new stands including exhibitors from every continent and from every meetings market sector are amongst the 3 500 exhibiting companies who represent over 150 countries. In addition, 20 per cent of existing exhibitors have this year chosen to book larger stands at the show.
Notable expansion in stand space (16 per cent) comes from the Asia Pacific region as a result of significant expansion by China and Taiwan. In addition, countries including Japan, Indonesia, Macau and Singapore have also all expanded their stands and Busan, Korea takes its own space for the first time. North American exhibitors with significantly larger presence include BrandUSA, NYC & Company and Texas Tourism.
The presence of the Calabar Convention Centre means that Nigeria is represented for the first time as part of a growing Middle East and Africa area which also features Ras Al Khaimah for the first time; while the planned opening of ICC Sydney and investment in the Melbourne Convention Centre have prompted expansion on the Australia stand. Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands are among the nine European countries to have increased their stand sizes. Technology companies have also booked 16 percent more space and with seven new hotel groups and six others taking greater areas, this sector has also seen grown.
With 34 new hosted buyer groups, demand from buyers to attend the show from across the world has never been higher. Hosted buyer attendance from long-haul markets including Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East and Africa is forecast to be particularly strong this week; alongside the thousands of buyers due to attend from Europe and Germany.
In the hall for opening day are also the 300 plus international association representatives who took part in the highly successful IMEX Association Day & Evening on Monday, as well as 80 buyers from the corporate sector who attended the annual Exclusively Corporate @IMEX event and who together control budgets in excess of US$270 million.
Around 40 government representatives from all over the world including ministers, senior regional politicians and policy makers are visiting the exhibition today before meeting industry leaders and taking part in the 13th annual IMEX Politicians Forum.
The IMEX educational programme is now based around the Inspiration Hub on the show floor. It will host 170 education sessions, with 30 of these in German. There are new early morning sessions on Business Networking and Building Confidence and a new initiative, Creative Thursday. Two new tracks are geared specifically towards Young Professionals – for anyone with up to three years’ experience – and senior professionals – for anyone with eight or more years’ experience.
At the show’s opening ceremony, IMEX chairman Ray Bloom, Matthias Schultze, managing director of IMEX’s strategic partner, the German Convention Bureau, and Wolfgang Marzin, president and chief executive officer of Messe Frankfurt were joined by Bill McDermott, chief executive officer of SAP, the world’s largest business software company, a passionate advocate of the value and power of meetings in building business.
In a keynote address, Bill McDermott said: “Why do I admire the meetings industry? You are on the frontline in the battle against all the bureaucrats that think that emails and PowerPoints ever changed a darned thing.”
He went on to add: “Meetings matter. You have to celebrate the victories, re-invent the business and inspire the people.”
He concluded by saying: “Why do I think it really matters? Not just because you get the message out, you inspire customers and drive business. You matter because you create a network effect that is not just measured in numbers, because of the people that you touch, because of how many kids will get an education, how many ideas get exchanged, because of the events that the industry is putting on. You are truly changing the world.”
The full video of Mr McDermott’s speech, as well as an edited version, will be available on the IMEX YouTube channel and website in the coming week.