IMEX America 2017 opens today (10 October) in Las Vegas, following the eve of show traditional Smart Monday programme.
This year 1,000 delegates attended Smart Monday, which witnessed 43 sessions.
MPI Keynote Janet Sperstand (pictured) revealed the results of an IMEX and PSAV sponsored White Paper on Purposeful Meetings, the overarching theme of the day.
On the association front, the day’s new Association Leadership Forum – created in association with ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership – provided a strategic look at topics such as governance, talent management, strategic planning, M&A and global management and leveraging technology to increase member engagement.
“The speakers and thinking are at a much higher level here today – at a big picture level,” said Frank Gainer, director of conferences for the American Occupational Therapy Association. “It gets you thinking and I have a list of ideas and questions to discuss with my team – and my boss – when I get back.”
An Association Evening topped off the day, and there was a new North Texas Reception organised by MPI, the Arlington CVB and the Irving CVB. SITE Nite North America also give back to the SITE Foundation at Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq.
Ray Bloom, chairman of the IMEX Group said: “During the months, even the week, leading up to IMEX America, it has been so very sad to see the devastation caused by natural disasters in the US, the Caribbean, Mexico and the tragic loss of life in one of our second homes, Las Vegas.
“At the same time, it has been inspiring to see the resilience of those communities and the supportive fellowship of the industry’s response to those whose regions and cities are now faced with rebuilding – both physically and emotionally.
“There is also a great willingness to contribute financially to help the victims of these tragedies and many people have asked us how best they can help. We’d like to encourage the industry to join us in contributing to the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund and to the American Red Cross.
“Our industry has rallied in extraordinary ways recently. It has an ability to come together with determination and resourcefulness unlike any other. Importantly it also has the power to pull destinations out of crisis; events and meetings are vital sources of regeneration, re-inspiration and renewal.”
As a mark of respect, there was a moment of silence observed by hundreds of members of the industry before the first MPI keynote.
Organisers say they expect 3,300 exhibitors from 150 countries and a major expansion of the Inspiration Hub at the show this year, set to be the largest ever IMEX America.
This year 58 stands, or 20% of returning exhibitors, have booked larger spaces while there are also 500 new exhibiting companies and 64 new stands at the 2017 show, organisers report.
Africa and the Middle East have both grown significantly this year, (31%), as a result of Abu Dhabi and Rwanda Convention Bureau exhibiting for the first time.
The Technology area is 12% larger mainly due to six new exhibitors including Groups360, PigeonLab Pte, Events Ready and Lead Interaction, and both new and larger booths have led to the USA/Canada and the hotel area of the show each growing by 8%.
IMEX America runs at the Sands Expo and Convention Center until 12 October.