IMEX America lived up to its slogan — “the heartbeat of the global business events community” — as it welcomed participants and exhibitors from around the world.
After taking 2020 off due to the COVID pandemic, IMEX America 2021 roared into Las Vegas November 9 to 11, as more than 3,300 global buyers and over 2,250 exhibiting companies flocked to Mandalay Bay, IMEX America’s new site after being held at the Sands Expo since its first show in 2011. Though the ban on international air travelers to the U.S. just lifted on November 8 — also known to IMEX attendees as Smart Monday, the pre-show educational day powered by Meeting Professionals International (MPI) — attendees from 155 countries still managed to attend.
While IMEX America 2021 attendees and exhibitors had to certify their COVID vaccination status using the Clear Health Pass app, once they entered the show floor, masking was optional (though masks still were required throughout the hotel’s public areas).
Education on the Agenda
About 900 participated in Smart Monday, according to MPI, which also sponsored a keynote lineup throughout the show that featured headliners such as physician, best-selling author and global social entrepreneur Shimi Kang; Daybreaker cofounder and CEO Radha Agrawal; author and socialnomics thought leader Erik Qualman; and a closing “un-keynote” by Rx Fogarty.
There also were more than 200 sessions in nine tracks over the course of the event, most of which were held in IMEX’s Inspiration Hub. In a nod to COVID restrictions, sessions were socially spaced, separated by inflatable walls, and amplified by speakers on both sides of the audience so attendees didn’t have to wear headphones as they did in the past (though headphones were available for those that wanted them).
On Monday, Prevue held its 2022 Advisory Board Meeting next door at The Delano, with 15 senior meeting professionals in attendance. The feedback given at this annual meeting is Prevue editors’ compass in designing future content, webinars, research and events.
Networking All Over
In addition to a busy show floor and Inspiration Hub, there were no shortage of extracurricular networking opportunities, including the Events Industry Council Awards celebration. Held Nov. 7, the EIC welcomed its Hall of Leaders class of 2021: Arnaldo Nardone, Director, FIEXPO Latin America; Geoff Donaghy, Group Director Convention Centres, ASM Global; Rajeev Kohli, Joint Managing Director, Creative Travel; and Dave Lutz, Managing Director, Velvet Chainsaw Consulting. EIC also celebrated its Pacesetters award winner Rachel Klar, Senior Events Marketer Manager, Intuit. Lotta Boman, CEO and Owner, Sigtunahöjden Hotel & Conference Centre, was honored with the EIC Social Impact award; and the Adaptation and Innovation award went to Heather Seasholtz, Mary-Ann Urbanovich and Shannon Majewski, the Pandemic Compliance Advisor Course; and Matthias Schultze, Managing Director, German Convention Bureau.
Later that evening, SITE held its SITE Nite North America event at Resorts World, raising funds for the SITE Foundation. There also was a networking reception hosted by LGBT MPA, the association for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans meeting and event professionals; the annual IMEX 5k run/walk event; and MPI’s Rendezvous, an always-popular networking dance party held at Drai’s rooftop Beachclub & Nightclub, the major fundraiser for the MPI Foundation.
Sustainability on the Agenda
IMEX America also continued its tradition of showcasing sustainability in events, because, as IMEX CEO Carina Bauer, said, nature is “a rallying cry for us all to do more to save the planet, to protect, conserve, and help regenerate natural resources and species.” In fact, 28 of the sessions were in the “sustainability and nature” track, including sessions on reducing event carbon footprints, reducing consumption, supply-chain issues, regenerative event management, and sustainable food and beverage. There also was an overview of the EIC’s Sustainable Event Professional Certificate, which was retooled and relaunched last summer.