We’re writing this as we wrap up a visit to the IMEX 2021 event in Las Vegas. If you’re not familiar with IMEX, it’s one of the largest conferences in the meetings industry. They call themselves “The heartbeat of the global business events community.” The attendees are primarily meeting planners and event organizers: the people who hire you. This year, there were 12,389 total participants from 150 countries.
We’ve been coming to IMEX for many years because we learn things about the meetings industry that we use to guide our own ship and that we use to help our friends who are speakers/trainers/coaches.
We took some notes on a few things we learned here that we think you’ll find helpful in making intentional plans for growing your business in 2022-23.
Hot off the press, In no particular order, here they are:
- In-person meetings are back, and IMEX proved it this year in Las Vegas. This was the largest meeting either of us has attended since 2019, and it felt good to see and feel the hustle & bustle on the exhibit floor and in the hallways of the convention center.
- We attended two “state of the industry” presentations (American Express and Meeting Professionals International (MPI)). Both agreed: spending on meetings is up, and the number of in-person meetings is on a healthy upward slope. Most meeting planners name 2023 or 2024 as the year we’ll be back to 2019.
- Smart speakers will get their internal workflow and marketing into ship-shape right now so that they can capitalize on the rising tide.
- Nearly half of meeting planners report increases in their budgets for 2022. That’s good! However, they’re also reporting that airfare, lodging, food, and other expenses are rising.
- Smart speakers won’t try to gouge buyers just because demand is increasing. Make a point in your negotiations that you understand that many of their other expenses are increasing and that you are keeping a level head.
- Planners increasingly want to record your presentation to re-use for reinforcement later, and your contract needs to address this.
- Smart speakers will include additional content for re-use, or explicitly allow re-use of what you perform for them, for an extra fee or as an included advantage of hiring them.
- This year, one of the two most important factors that suppliers consider when signing contracts is “supplier flexibility”. They need to know that if their event gets postponed/virtualized/canceled/etc. that their suppliers (you’re one of those) will adjust painlessly with them.
- Smart speakers will bring up flexibility in conversations with the event organizer. Be sure to include contract accommodations for late-changing plans: willing to apply the fee to a later date, change from on-site to virtual, etc. Make sure you have a force majeure clause in your contract.
- There are lots of different sizes and types of meetings. Right now the fastest-growing types of meetings are Internal, “small simple,” and advisory board meetings.
- Smart speakers will adjust content and marketing toward these types of meetings.
- Event organizers are leading the effort to get meetings & conventions up and running again. MPI reported that 80% of its members are vaccinated, and Scott Beck from the Toronto Convention & Visitors Bureau told us that the vaccination rate of event organizers in Canada is 90%.
- Vaccination proof is going to be a fact of your life for a while. We could only enter the exhibit area by showing the Clear app on our phone with a digital proof of our vaccination (IMEX warned attendees ahead of time to have this when they arrive). Once we showed our proof of vaccination, they gave us a green wristband that would get us into the exhibit area.
- Smart speakers will make it easy to book them by following the lead of event organizers worldwide and getting vaccinated or having a testing plan you can share with event organizers to show you are as invested as they are in getting meetings back up and running.
- MPI celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2021, and its focus this year is creating an engaging and diverse community. “DE&I” (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) was at the top of the list of things that meeting planners are interested in right now. We know it is one of the most searched topics in eSpeakers Marketplace and other directories we power.
- Smart speakers will think about DE&I in their presentations. You may consider adding content on diversity to your existing presentations as applicable.
So there it is — your steaming fresh news of the meetings industry from IMEX in Las Vegas. We hope this information helps you have a successful 2022!
Dave Reed & Joe Heaps