In Dana Travels, Trade Shows

imex america 2018 signIt’s been a few weeks since the global sensation ended, but I’m still coming down from the high that was IMEX 2018. What is IMEX, you say, and what makes it such an elevated experience?

Dana has been working with the IMEX Group since 2011. That’s when they duplicated their wildly successful, worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events from Frankfurt and exported it to the United States. And for each of the last five years, I’ve been lucky enough to spend a week in Las Vegas—where the IMEX America edition quickly grew to become the country’s biggest industry trade show.

This year, for the first time ever, I was shipped off to cover IMEX, German style. Sure, it was the same model, with buyers and suppliers getting down to business, learning in education sessions and forging in-person bonds. But to say the show truly reached new heights—and not only for me—would be an understatement. Here are some of the many reasons why.

Frankfurt is a long way off from Vegas, but shines just as bright.

Since the Middle Ages, this bustling metropolis boasts a history as an international finance and trade hub, and it’s considered a major financial center for Europe. Hey, it’s nicknamed “Mainhattan” (Main River + Manhattan) and “Bankfurt” for a reason.

Clearly, Frankfurt’s respectable reputation preceded it…and seemed diametrically opposed to “The Entertainment Capital of the World.” I was curious to discover if it could hold its own against the extravagant glitz and glam of the Vegas Strip.

imex attendees in elevated chairs

With help from partners like C2 and its Sky Lab, IMEX literally elevated the experience.

Well, I am pleased to report that you don’t need hypnotic neon to lure 14,500+ participants. In fact, the more buttoned-up background only made the largest-ever IMEX seem more vibrant!

Gemütlichkeit translates across every language.

Ubiquitous German “Gemütlichkeit” expresses a warm, almost indefinable state of coziness and well-being, good cheer and belonging. While no direct English translation actually exists, I certainly felt it, infusing the entire show and transcending cultures and language barriers.

From our extended IMEX family’s heartfelt welcome, to inviting in-booth hospitality provided by colorful exhibitors. As I read the stories posted on the Legacy Wall, focused on the 2018 Talking Point, which will expand into IMEX America too. And when meeting strangers-turned-instant-friends both on and off the show floor and in gatherings like the brand-new She Means Business conference on EduMonday.

Let’s not forget the parties! Namely, those of our awesome clients, IMEX and SITE. The IMEX Gala Dinner & Awards, as well as SITE NITE Europe, really showed this American gal a good time!

The whole world rolled out the red carpet.

One of my favorite things about IMEX America? The opportunity to walk around the US and the rest of the globe, under a single roof, much of the floor occupied by our wonderful states and domestic destinations, companies and attractions.

At its European counterpart, our nation was, of course, represented. But it was fun to see that its more compact presence opened up space for exhibitors from international cities, regions and countries (160+ of them!) I’d never explored. And those I had flaunted new ways of making a fabulous scene.

IMEX raised the bar again—and, literally, its attendees.

dundu puppet

Is somebody following me? It’s the DUNDU Giant on the loose!

IMEX continually looks future-forward to help planners recharge their meeting, event and incentive travel missions. Shows feature cutting-edge suppliers, technology and concepts, and Frankfurt was no exception.

On the show floor, in the Inspiration Hub and in the Live Zone, the imaginative and collaborative experiences were too many to mention. The IMEX Group’s partnership with C2 International brought wow-worthy additions, like the Sky Lab (mid-air meetings) and the Dark Lab (convene in total darkness).

They also included the whimsically soothing Schönes Wasser (“Water Café,” serving only water, naturally), Musicworks’ communication-enhancing ideas, the interactive Walking Piano and the mesmerizing, double-decker, media-enabled G-SMATT event structure.

Another towering highlight? The DUNDU puppet, an impressive storytelling and team-building tool. Very cool, though I admit to being unsettled when the Giant started following me home…okay, it was heading to the official EduMonday Happy Hour in my hotel’s lounge.

Given the innovations I witnessed in Deutschland, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for this year’s IMEX America.

We get to do it all again in a few months…

…and the Dana team would love to meet you there! IMEX America 2018 is right around the corner, on October 16-18. Don’t miss Smart Monday on October 15 either, a full day of free education and networking before the trade show opens.

Until then, we’ll be resting our feet, but not our marketing muscles, as we busily assist our IMEX friends, as well as other clients with maximizing their time at the show. Email Lynn Kaniper at—or call 609.466.9187, ext. 117—to find out how.




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