IMEX America has always been a trend-setter. One trend the industry has been awaiting is to see the show go live—and signal the start of F2F events once again.
That’s why followers were abuzz when IMEX America Chairman Ray Bloom and CEO Carina Bauer announced on the Meetings Made Easy Facebook and LinkedIn weekly livestream that, as of now, they were moving forward with their show. IMEX America 2021 is scheduled for November 9 to 11 at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Convention Center. “There is no doubt,” said Bloom. “We want to get back to doing business.”
The last live IMEX, in September of 2019, drew 13,500 attendees. Bauer wouldn’t make a prediction about 2021 attendance but said she and her team “will be doing our best to have as many exhibitors and buyers attend as we can. But we will also be looking at the flow of the show and other things to be sure we can keep people safe.” She also mentioned the new ventilation system installed in Mandalay Bay’s convention center, which replaces the air 12 times per hour—the equivalent of a hospital ICU.
Bauer admitted that if the gathering size restrictions in Las Vegas remained as they are right now (1,000 people total, with a maximum of 250 in the same room), obviously IMEX America could not take place, but “restrictions are slowly lifting in Las Vegas and they expect that by May, they will be lifted significantly. And obviously our show is 8 months away.”
In general, Bloom encouraged meeting planners to start booking events again. “There’s a great deal of demand building up for future meetings. I’m hearing that facilities and hotels are filling up for later this year. The important thing to bear in mind for planners considering doing this is that they will find more flexibility from the hotels because there is still some uncertainty about later this year. If they are considering it, they should go ahead and book with the understanding that if the event can’t take place that the booking will be moved to a date when it can.”
He also pointed to two positive recent pieces of news: the announcement from President Biden that enough vaccine would be available by the end of May to vaccinate everyone in the United States who wants it, and the steps being taken by travel industry associations such as IATA to get a vaccine passport in place. “And really, we’re dependent on this. We’re dependent on the virus numbers going down and the vaccine to stop them from going up again.”
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