Belonging and Bleisure: Reimagining Events at IMEX Frankfurt

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Attendees at this week’s IMEX show in Frankfurt

IMEX Frankfurt, taking place May 23 to 25 at Messe Frankfurt, has tapped into what is most important to event attendees in both their personal and professional lives and used that to craft a creative and innovative educational agenda.

In “How to measure and manifest belonging for events,” David Allison of Valuegraphics, Naomi Crellin of Storycraft LAB and Megan Henshall of the Google Experience Institute gifted a new diagnostic tool to session participants. The Belonging Index Map, available only to IMEX attendees, distills 912 different expressions of belonging to reveal what they mean in the nine different regions of the world.

As Allison explained, “Everyone wants to feel as though they belong. Your job as event designers is to understand how this one value—belonging—might play out among your attendees and then bake that into your approach. It applies to everything from how you communicate and message your audience to their lived experience of your brand at the event. Try this tool for yourself. It has the potential to be transformative.”

In the same way as event messaging is becoming more inclusive, planners need to pay attention to the shift in attendees also wanting to extend their stays and also to include their families. According to preliminary findings from MMGY Travel Intelligence’s Portrait of European Meeting and Convention Travel 2023 report, nearly 60 percent of attendees are likely to extend a business trip for leisure purposes in the next 12 months and two-thirds indicated they’d invite their spouse or partner along.

“There’s been a distinct shift in the way people approach their working lives and we want to be able to support them in this, said one hosted buyer, Tatiana Tudela. Along those lines, at the show’s  Inspiration Hub, travel writers Daniel Scheffler and Alexis Steinman sparked ideas on how to create business travel experiences with a difference encouraged the audience to remember why they love travel and to focus on local, authentic experiences with meaningful connections, a hint of belonging and interactions at the core.

“Create small moments that touch the heart. We should also encourage people to let go of their expectations and prejudices. When we let these go, adventure follows. Isn’t that what many of us are seeking?” Scheffler said.

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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.