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IMEX America 2023 Opening Day Breaks Records

Crowded trade show floor

Skift Take

An estimated 17,500 are gathering in Las Vegas for IMEX America 2023. Many conversations that started at Skift Meetings Innovation Lab on Smart Monday spilled onto the show floor.

This year’s IMEX America is the largest show in its 12-year history. Some estimates are as high as 17,500 attendees. IMEX will reveal official figures at its closing press conference on Tuesday. If IMEX confirms the attendance estimate, that would make this show 25% larger than the previous record of 14,000 in 2019. A far cry from the 12,000 that took part last year.

IMEX has revealed that the show floor has grown by 20% in terms of space taken by exhibitors, and there are 9% more booths, bringing the total to 360. Nearly half of all exhibiting companies have increased their booth sizes, and every market sector has grown, the majority by double-digits.

“These figures are good news for the market and bode well for short-term business and, importantly, long-term positive economic impact. In a world experiencing so much turmoil, it’s incumbent upon us to focus on the underlying impact of our industry – bringing people together for deeper human connections and mutual benefit,” said Carina Bauer, IMEX Group CEO Carina Bauer.

Focus on Destinations

While buyers are exploring their options across the show floor, destination and venue selection conversations were the focus of the second part of Monday’s Skift Meetings Innovation Lab.

Art combines with science when choosing the ideal destination, shared Skift Meetings Innovation Lab attendee Juan Fernando Rubio of Rubio Meeting Architects Worldwide. Art is the soft power of a destination that includes gastronomy and culture, while science focuses on logistics, like how to get there.

A discussion about doing more with less spurred helpful ideas: for example, allow chefs and audiovisual experts to be consultants on your gathering. Explain to them what you are trying to accomplish with what budget. Ed Carey, chief sales officer of Discover Puerto Rico, stressed the importance of return on experience.

Carey also discussed navigating attrition in hotel contracts is always a hot-button topic. Transparency on both sides is imperative when it comes to contracts, and convention bureaus can play an important role. “We do our best to advocate for you, and hotel attrition is blood money. You don’t have to have it if you are communicating effectively. It can be a win-win if you do it right,” he said.

The Ideas Theater, part of the Inspiration Hub education area at IMEX America 2023

Content Is King

The Inspiration Hub, the home of education sessions at IMEX America, has seen a significant upgrade. Multiple education stages match the different session formats, all on the show floor. The largest theater is the Ideas Theater. This is also the home of the Google Xi CoLaboratory, which focuses on experience design and the principles of belonging, and the IMEX|EIC People and Planet Theater, with a focus on sustainability.