IMEX in Frankfurt was full of first times for me. Although I’ve been working at IMEX for almost a year now, it was my first time working on the European edition of our trade show. Thankfully, the meetings industry is becoming much more familiar to me and I’m finally starting to find my feet!
This show marked my first time in Germany. I know, that’s pretty bad for someone who lives only an hour’s flight away. However, I did get to put the German lessons my colleagues Sarah and Roger had delivered to good use. Even though the only word I could remember was “entschuldigung”, it still came in handy!
I was also welcomed into the onsite IMEX Digital Team for the first time. It was a fun role to have at the show, running around to capture special moments and monitoring all your social media activity. I also helped direct our hello and goodbye videos, which was really fun!
Beyond my job at the show, when I had the chance to take in the buzzing atmosphere of IMEX in Frankfurt, three things really stood out for me. Firstly, the theme of Legacy throughout the show, the emphasis on experiences, and finally the push for inclusivity and diversity.
What will your legacy be?
There were many opportunities to see IMEX’s talking point, legacy, in action throughout the show. On the second day of the show I sat in on the Future Leaders Forum (FLF), where final year hospitality, event or tourism students had the opportunity to gain expert insight into the meetings industry. It was great to see so many young people keen to learn from the professionals and make exciting new connections - who knows what this might lead to?
One FLF participant, Praeploy Petretti from Chiang Mai University, was lucky enough to win the MPI Foundation / Maritz Global Events Student Scholarship Award, presented during the IMEX Gala Dinner awards. Praeploy represented this new generation of meeting professionals, joining dozens of big names in celebrating truly outstanding achievements
Seeing all of these inspirational people got me thinking… What will my legacy be? At 22 years old, the legacy I will leave behind rarely crosses my mind. But hearing everyone’s achievements from over the years was so impressive, it was hard not to walk away from that night feeling motivated to reach my full potential.
Living in the moment
You can’t deny that social media has impacted the way we experience things. Instead of living in the moment often we find ourselves glued to a screen. So, I was pleasantly surprised at IMEX in Frankfurt to see people engaging with each other instead of their phones. Hall 9 was a brilliant example of how to make meetings more experiential, causing people to think differently and retain information more effectively. My colleagues and I were some of the first people to try out the C2 Sky Lab, before the show opened on Tuesday morning. With shoeless feet swinging (health and safety!) the Sky Lab reminded us of our relaxed and playful childhoods. It definitely facilitated a new way of thinking.
One of my favourite tasks at the show was assisting in the creation of our hello and goodbye videos. Getting team members to throw and catch the globe might sound simple, but it was no easy feat! However, the outtakes gave us plenty to laugh about, and relieved any pre-show tension. I hoped that with all the practice I had throwing a ball, it would take me one shot during filming. Alas, I was wrong.
On the night of the Gala Dinner Awards, I didn’t touch my phone once. Not to Instagram my delicious food, not to Shazam a great song I didn’t know the name of, not even to text my friends. Because I was having too much fun! The occasion was a fun break from the show floor, where we could all unwind, meet new people and dance to the excellent music courtesy of SongDivision. Of course, social media has its benefits, but man, did it feel good to unplug and be present.
A change is coming
This IMEX in Frankfurt marked the first She Means Business conference, which celebrated the role of women in the meetings industry. I am so proud of the IMEX team and its partners for making this event happen and the great things that will hopefully follow. One instance of the power of this movement was the launch of PCMA’s Ascent CEO Promise, which asks CEOs to commit to embracing a culture of inclusiveness in their organisations and events.
There was plenty of education during the show which focussed on diversity and inclusion, and the ratio of female speakers hit a new record for IMEX, with a large number of women taking the stage. After hearing Jeannine Koch’s inspirational presentation at She Means Business, we are even more determined to encourage women’s voices.
So, now IMEX in Frankfurt is over, I think it’s time to accept that my time as an IMEX newbie is over too. But that’s not to say that there won’t be plenty of new and exciting things ahead in the year!
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