IMEX America 2021: An Industry ‘Homecoming’ Sets the Stage for Business, Education and Inspiration
Event professionals and suppliers have happily descended upon Las Vegas since 2011 for IMEX America, but this year is shaping up to be an even more joyful experience for everyone involved, as they join with peers in-person again after a long and challenging hiatus due to the pandemic.
IMEX America 2021, billed as a “homecoming for the global events community,” is the 10th edition of the show. IMEX Group is marking the milestone with plenty of unique opportunities to conduct business, connect, learn and grow Nov. 9-11 at its new home: Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
“We can’t wait to see the return of IMEX America and bring together our business events community,” said Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group. “For many in the industry, the show plays a key part in their business recovery and represents a unique opportunity to meet with colleagues and partners who they have not seen in almost two years.”
Bauer added that IMEX Group carefully crafted a show that has business at its core, while delivering top-notch learning and memorable moments and ensuring a safe event experience that’s fit for the times. IMEX Group is working with the city of Las Vegas and the GBAC Star-certified Mandalay Bay Convention Center to meet the latest health and safety requirements and keep attendee safety a priority.
"Our mission is to create a show that’s underpinned by secure safety measures while delivering the classic IMEX touch of fun, soul and heart that we know our community craves right now,” Bauer said.
Proof of Vaccination Required
Following a recent trend in North America for event organizers to produce COVID-safe events to an "unofficial gold standard," IMEX America will require all attendees to provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 to gain entry to the show.
IMEX will be using the CLEAR Health Pass app for all North American attendees and a different process for international attendees. CLEAR is used for identity verification at airports throughout the U.S. and has partnered with many of the largest venues in Las Vegas, including Mandalay Bay, and event organizers across the country for vaccine verification.
The CLEAR app offers validated, onscreen proof of full vaccination status against the World Health Organization’s list of approved vaccines. IMEX will not have access to the personal health records of attendees as that data remains anonymous and private. International attendees will be able to submit their vaccine status to an equally secure portal prior to the event to gain vaccine certification.
IMEX America will also feature a specialized onsite health clinic, together with access to testing stations for homeward-bound international travelers whose travel providers require them to show a negative test before departure.
Strong Buyer and Supplier Demand
IMEX America 2021 is expected to draw buyers and suppliers from 155 countries, with 3,500 exhibitors on the trade show floor offerings a plethora of opportunities for event professionals to meet through IMEX America’s pre-arranged appointment system.
According to IMEX officials, registration for the show has had a robust start, with hosted buyer demand higher one month after registration opened than at the same point in 2019. More than 3,000 buyers have so far registered to attend IMEX America from across the planner community—event agencies, corporate planners, associations and independents—all with business to place and many at a senior level.
There has also been strong demand from suppliers since the git-go, with both North American and international exhibitors returning to the show in force, as well as major hotel groups.
North American destinations including Atlanta, Boston, Canada, Detroit, Hawaii, Indianapolis, Los Cabos, Memphis, Santa Barbara, Santa Fe, Puerto Rico and Vancouver are confirmed so far. International representation currently includes Argentina, Australia, Brussels, Dubai, Dubrovnik, Italy, Jamaica, Korea, Panama, Singapore, St. Petersburg, Switzerland and Vienna.
Hotels were among the first to book, with Associated Luxury Hotels International, Four Seasons, Hilton, Hyatt, Mandarin Oriental, Radisson, Sonesta and Wyndham among those who have committed.
Education, Inspiration and Networking
Beyond the trade show, IMEX America 2021 will offer brilliant speakers, fresh ideas and opportunities to connect at 180-plus educational sessions and networking events.
The inspiring learning program running throughout the show begins on Smart Monday, powered by MPI, taking place on Nov. 8, the day before IMEX America begins. Dr Shimi Kang from the University of British Columbia will deliver the Smart Monday keynote, showcasing the latest research-based methods for adaptability, innovation, collaboration and lasting business success.
Dedicated sessions for various industry groups will allow attendees to personalize their Smart Monday experience. The Executive Meeting Forum is designed for senior-level corporate executives from Fortune 2000 companies, and the new Corporate Focus is open to event professionals from corporations at all levels. Participants can expect in-depth discussions on topics such as meeting design, effective communication with remote team workers, and mental health and wellness.
Association leaders can connect and learn with their peers at the Association Leadership Forum, created by ASAE. In a new workshop format for 2021, the forum takes a direct look at the changed business climate in which associations now operate. The forum will explore how to tackle the fundamental changes accelerated by the pandemic, namely higher member expectations, increased member diversity, differing generational values and accelerated advances in technology.
Championing diversity in the business events industry is IMEX America’s She Means Business initiative. The joint event by IMEX and TW magazine, supported by MPI, brings together a panel of female leaders from within and outside the industry to share their stories and advice. Ambition, Action and Accountability: Strategic Goal Setting for Women in Events is a practical session with tips on how to achieve a “big vision,” delivered by Juliet Tripp, deputy head of global events for Chemical Watch. Meanwhile, Michelle Mason, President and CEO of ASAE, and Courtney Stanley of Courtney Stanley Consulting will invite two men to join the diversity dialogue in the Diversity and Gender Equality—Women Seek Conversations with Men session.
Each day of IMEX America will begin with an MPI keynote. Movers and shakers from outside the business events industry will each bring their unique world view to the show. Attendees can expect an award-winning Harvard-trained doctor, one of the “most likeable authors in the world,” an intrepid wilderness explorer, author and nature photographer, and the founder of a global dance movement and community, among others.
The Inspiration Hub will deliver a packed scheduled of learning opportunities curated into new tracks designed to address the business needs of late 2021: creativity in communication, diversity and accessibility, innovation and tech, professional development and upskilling, purposeful recovery, and sustainability and nature.
A few unexpected experiences are also in store for attendees.
“We’re working closely with our new venue, Mandalay Bay, to deliver a show that’s rooted in business opportunities as well as delivering top notch learning and memorable moments,” Bauer said. “We’re making creative use of our new location, and attendees can expect some unusual new elements.”
Included is the new People & Planet Village, a focal point for sustainability, diversity, social impact and giving back. It will feature an educational campfire area dedicated to sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion as well as the chance to take part in activities that support the Las Vegas community. The village will also be where attendees can help build the KLH Clubhouse, a special play space for the kindergarten class of Luna, a local child with pediatric cancer.
Health and well-being will be top of mind at IMEX America 2021. Attendees can take advantage of the popular meditation and mindfulness sessions at the Be Well Lounge, which will be located at Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef, housing 2,000 sea creatures, including sharks, giant rays and green sea turtles, and fitness options such as the IMEX 5k Run and Caesars Forum Walking Challenge by Heka Health. Educational sessions spotlighting ways to incorporate wellness into events will also be featured.
Meanwhile, social events will be plentiful, with offerings such as an extensive culinary tour of Vegas hotspots with Lip-Smacking Foodie Tours and evening events such as the SITE North America dinner and the MPI Foundation Rendezvous.