Carina Bauer on IMEX Frankfurt

Carina Bauer
IMEX Frankfurt 2022 will still be a prime place to meet, network and learn. However, the IMEX Group has had time over the past two years the show has been on hiatus to reinvent IMEX Frankfurt 2022 for its post-pandemic debut later this month.

After two years in hiatus due to COVID, IMEX Frankfurt is coming back in style to Messe Frankfurt, Germany, May 31–June 2. While it likely will be a bit smaller than it was pre-pandemic, when about 14,000 exhibiting companies, hosted buyers and trade visitors came to mingle on the show floor, the size and scale of the show will be reflective of the industry as a whole as we start to come out of hibernation, said IMEX CEO Carina Bauer in a recent video update.

“All the destinations, hotel groups and major companies will be represented,” she said. “We actually have the largest African area we’ve ever had. Asia also has come back much quicker than we expected at the beginning of the year…and of course Europe, North America, and [we’ll have] a solid presence from South America as well,” she added.

“People will be able to come to IMEX Frankfurt and see the industry again and meet with their colleagues and peers from all across the world.”

But will Russia be included? IMEX announced shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year that Russian state companies would not be allowed to participate in IMEX Frankfurt 2022. And with Germany banning inbound flights from Russia, organizers don’t anticipate Russian buyers to participate either. However, Bauer said, “We want to be very careful about not discriminating against Russian people who live all across the world and may represent Western companies. They are obviously very welcome. There is a distinction between state-owned companies and Russian individuals. We should be very careful about that.”

Addressing Lingering COVID Concerns

Now that Germany has opened to visitors from all countries, anyone who wants to attend IMEX Frankfurt can go to the show, as long as they are fully vaccinated and/or can provide a negative COVID test. And Frankfurt has lifted all COVID-related restrictions, so no vaccination proof or negative test needed to go to IMEX Frankfurt this year. But that doesn’t mean that those who still have concerns will have to don full body armor to feel comfortable, said Bauer.

“We are keeping in place a lot of the things we had planned to create a more comfortable experience.” Among those accommodations are wider aisles in some areas, two entrances to the trade show hall, and traffic-flow management to minimize crowding in every area of the show, including registration, she said. For example, at IMEX America, held in Las Vegas last fall, attendees could print their badges at home if they wanted to, which helps keep the reg line short. While not required, anyone who wants to wear a mask is welcome to.

Reinvention on the Agenda

Being unable to host the show in-person for the past two years did give The IMEX Group time to rethink and reinvent the show, Bauer said. Among the changes:

  • A simplified registration process. While the show has always been free to attend for qualified buyers, there now are new tools in place to make it easier to build your own schedule of individual appointments and stand presentations, she said.
  • No appointment quotas. “We want people to come and participate in the show that’s going to be most meaningful and valuable to them and to the exhibitors as well, which means that we’re not putting any quotas on the appointment numbers that they have to have,” Bauer said. “It’s about trust and mutual business opportunities.”
  • A redesigned experiential zone. Hall 9 will have a new nature-inspired look and feel this year, along with enhanced education areas. Also new is the More than Experience theater by DRPG and Maritz, as well as a revamped Hosted Buyer Lounge, Media Zone and food court. “We’re really differentiating between the business end of the show in Hall 8 and the experience area in Hall 9 where…we have music and different smells and sounds,” said Bauer. “We want to bring innovation to the industry and use the show to showcase [new trends and new business models] literally.”
  • An enhanced event technology area where people can see the new platforms that have evolved over the past two years.

Bauer stressed that it’s important not to make assumptions about what the industry is doing now, but to instead get out there and see what’s new for yourself at IMEX Frankfurt and other industry events.

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