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March 2010 Conference+ Meetings World www. c- mw. net 29 IMEX VIEW T he latest IMEX Global Insights Report asked a standing panel of 45 senior international meetings industry and corporate professionals for their views about opportunities and 57 per cent expected the number of meetings, events and incentives they organised to remain the same in 2010, while 33 per cent expected the number to be even higher than the 2009 figure. Armed with this research and " mounting exhibitor bookings and visitor and hosted buyer registrations" for the eighth annual IMEX exhibition this May, organiser, the IMEX Group, is predicting that this year's show is set to deliver " more business opportunities than ever before". Chairman of the IMEX Group, Ray Bloom believes the show's enduring success is founded on making sure that exhibitors and buyers can do as much business together as possible. " The industry returns to IMEX year after year because we deliver maximum return on investment for their money and time," says Bloom. Exhibitor confirmations Among the hotel groups, Ritz Carlton, Moevenpick Hotels, Fairmont/ Swissotel Raffles and Starwood Hotels and Resorts, IMEX reports, have all increased their stand space for 2010. Scandic Hotels and Albert Management of Latvia will exhibit for the first time and Warwick International makes a return. Other new exhibitors so far confirmed for 2010 include Colombia, Meeting Point International and Showcare. The Wild Card Pavilion will host one of the fastest emerging destinations in Africa, Uganda, together with the mountain town of Morzine in France and the new Hof Conference and Cultural Center, Iceland. IMEX is reporting strong demand for exhibition space from Asian meetings industry suppliers with Korea, Seoul Convention Bureau, Macau, Sri Lanka and Indian Holiday all expanding their presence. From the US, Anchorage, Arizona, Chicago, Texas and New York City have contracted and IMEX expects all those who attended in 2009 to exhibit on IMEX targets opportunity 2010 IMEX MD Ray Bloomtells CMWthe Frankfurt show is ready to deliver on the show floor and via pre- show webinars. the IMEX US Pavilion again in 2010. The Spanish Tourist Office is set to be the largest exhibitor outside German destinations, with 800 square metres of floor space. Both Madrid and Valencia will be taking their own exhibition stands. Other exhibitors that have increased their exhibition sizes at the Frankfurt show include the Czech Tourism Authority; Uruguay; Luxembourg; Carat Tours; Liberty International and Discovery Jordan. " Virtually every sector of our industry is consistently prepared to commit to IMEX knowing that they have the opportunity of meeting the right people, doing good business and being assured of getting all the support they need. Together with the results from the Global Insights Report, there is a strong suggestion that the underlining fundamentals in our industry are robust, in spite of a changing global economic outlook," says Bloom. Meetings for success With virtual events becoming more prominent and widely accessible, the IMEX Meetings for Success webinar series is another IMEX initiative and the next webinar is scheduled to take place on 3 March. Participation is free. For meetings industry professionals keen to learn about the challenges involved in staging virtual events, Angie Smith, global sales experience manager at Cisco, will be providing the inside track on Cisco's entirely virtual event, the 2009 Global sales experience. More than 19,000 employees from 89 different countries attended that four- day event and Smith is promising to reveal the event's ' virtual secrets' during the webinar. To register interest in taking part in this webinar, contact: Rachel. munro@ imexexhibitions. com For further information on IMEX 2010, 25- 27 May, visit www. imex- frankfurt. com Ray Bloom ' 90 per cent of meetings professionals surveyed expect the number of meetings and events they organise in 2010 to remain the same or be even higher than in 2009.'

30www. c- mw. net Conference+ Meetings WorldMarch 2010 INTERVIEW K enes International is a global medical congress organiser and association management company. It is the long-term PCO for 45 European and international clients in key medical areas and also services the meetings and conference needs of 18 European, Asian and international medical associations. It recently boosted its UK presence by merging its activities there with London-based PCO, Confab Consulting. How many conferences and meetings on average do you organise in a calendar year? I estimate around 50 regional and world conferences and around the same number of national meetings, the vast majority in the medical and scientific specialities. What do you estimate the value of those events to be? A direct economical contribution of between ? 1,620 to ? 2,200 per delegate per meeting for international and regional meetings. An all round economic contribution of ? 85m. Have your meetings and events retained average delegate numbers this year? Most of them did and we have seen in several the continuation of growth as well. There were, however, a few meetings that suffered a decrease. I can attribute it also to factors other than the economic situation eg. unattractive or expensive destinations, and competition. How did the recession affect your meeting plans in 2009? As we focus on a field that relies heavily on networking to create progress and spread education, we continue to see that meetings with a valued scientific content continue to flourish. Research- based meetings were hardly affected by the economic situation altogether. We are long distance players. We did not stop our investments in developments of new projects, such as gaining our knowledge base and virtual platforms, just because of a one- year recession. What steps have you taken to change policy or adapt to this economic backdrop? Have you been able to drive a harder bargain on venues and services? To a degree. Since most contracts are long term, the benefit may be feasible this year, as we are able to receive favourable terms. We have materialised benefits to our clients also on a shorter term for this year. However, we look at long term co- operation with our suppliers, and as much as we anticipate only a moderate increase in prices in good times, we would not want to go for short term gains on the account of our long term credibility as a fair partner. What are the most common challenges when organising a conference or event? The biggest challenge is understanding different cultures. This is a key to doing business around the world. This understanding follows the rest of the challenges we face; such as understanding the changing needs of our clients from the association boards, through the industry sponsors and exhibitors, to the participants. These expectations have changed dramatically during the past few years, and the services and products need to address these changes. For example, the industry is looking more into educational rather than commercial products. Changing regulations within the medical industry and the preservation and distribution of knowledge are definitely a challenge. Long distance players Vikki Carleychats exclusively to Kenes International's MD Dan Rivlin, about growth, challenges and Darwin's theory. Kenes' Dan Rivlin and CMW's deputy editor Vikki Carley ' The biggest challenge is understanding different cultures. This is a key to do doing business around the world.'