Carina Bauer CEO IMEX Business Event Trends and Politics


Caria Bauer, CEO IMEX Group gives an insiders view on the MICE industries future. During IMEX 2016, MICExchange discussed with Carina Bauer how optimistic the MICE industry appeared to be from the perspective of a key MICE and Business Events Travel Expo. Bauer noted that there was cautious optimism and budget were showing signs of opening up to higher spends. Bauer noted that Event planners and Destinations were more engaged politically in promoting event destinations and the business event industry.

Event Business Industry Cautious Optimism

From the floor of a busy IMEX 2016 on opening day, Carina Bauer, CEO IMEX Frankfurt states, “The event industry can be described as cautiously optimistic and this has been the case for a little while now – and looking forward there is quite a lot of optimism.”

“But I think we have all been through a lot over the past 10 years and economic indicators are mixed around the world, so that’s why I would say there is a cautious optimism. Generally what we are hearing from the suppliers looking forward into 2017, they do have good bookings on their books and certainly we are seeing from the Buyers side they are expecting attendance to be up or a little bit more budget to work with.”

“We are not talking double digit growth but certainly growth and I think we felt that at IMEX America. For IMEX Frankfurt, there is a good buzz and we are expecting a good number of buyers here – so I think we are going to see that optimism.”

Global & Regional Business Events Trends

When asked about the regional socio-political events unfolding for Europe, USA and Asia and how they were affecting event planners and the industry in general, Bauer responded – “On a macro level if you like – whats happening outside the industry of course impacts us – so security, economic indicators etc. We see quite a lot of buoyancy in the USA but we are naturally a little more conservative with that in Europe. But we do see optimism in Europe, we can see even by the exhibitors – where stands are back to pre-2008 sizes so we are seeing [expectancy] of growth from the suppliers from many different areas and the established western European destinations.”

When Bauer speculated on the unfolding business event industry trends, she speculates, “What I think has happened over the past 10 years, what the destinations and event planners have had to look at the business in a much more strategic sense that took us while – I think it’s good for the industry and that people are understanding the value of the industry.”

“[When] events are held in a destination – using the event to build a knowledge based economy to drive inward investment or in terms of direct economic spend – they understand that better, they using the messages better and they are working with their politicians.”

“The other side of the scale – the planners are understanding how to tIMEX-politician forumalk about their events in the sense of driving the business objectives of their companies. So – ‘what is it you want to achieve’ – sales, increase motivation – so how can I as a meeting professional achieve that for you. As an industry we are getting much better at understanding how to use it to our benefit.”

Business Event Industry Using Political Advocacy

When asked how much politics is interacting and impacting on the industry in general – Bauer said, “I think it goes two ways – a part of it is that our industry, the destinations, planners understanding more how to work with their political leaders whether its their mayor, civil servants or influencing the policy makers or whether its the ministers. So they are understanding how to talk to them in the right way – AND – the politicians as well are constantly looking for ways to drive the economic indicators of their destinations. Also [in turn] they are understand how the meetings industry and business events industry or the business events industry as they are calling it – is actually a horizontal sector that goes right across all the verticals and it’s a tool they can use to drive inward investment in technology, or to drive knowledge sharing in the Biotech sector – or whatever [industry].”

MICExchange then asked, how much she has seen the industry become more involved in advocacy, whether political or strategic, Bauer answered, “Four years ago our Politicians form attracted about 25-30 politicians, now we are getting 40-45 – coming of different levels so you can see the difference just in terms of the numbers. That is partly the destinations who wanted their politicians to come to see the industry to showcase their place in the industry – it’s valuable for them just to see the show floor – and to have the chance to talk to other politicians and industry leaders at the forum.

Event Exhibitors get Strategic

When asked about how she a representative of IMEX saw the changes from year to year as exhibitors respond to industry and perceived value, Bauer spoke at length, “Yes, I think those changes are aligned to this change in understanding of our place in the world. We do see that the exhibitors are very strategic in the way they are promoting themselves at the event and that sometimes is promoting their industry sectors – you can see that in the daily paper and the adverts they are placing – You see adverts [that are] talking about their industry sectors, such as their Technology, Biotech or Engineering sector. The other thing we see is they are very strategic in aligning their marketing goals with their teams with their training with their sponsorship activities and they want to really activate their brand – so they want sponsor-ships that are much more experiential. They don’t just want a banner, they want it to be linked to the experience they can give to those buyers. That takes a lot of creativity. It pushes us (IMEX) to deliver those services, so that good for everyone.”

“The Hyatt Recharge and Relax Lounge is a perfect example of that – they have place advertising but they have also created a lovely space – and its aligned to their brand values.  These innovations bring another dimension to the show.”

Carina Bauer was enthusiastic as she summed up, “ It’s only the first day, but there is a great buzz on the floor, we’ve got a very high number of registrations this year from our hosted buyers and from our visitor buyers so we are very positive.”

See the entire interview on the MICExchange YouTube Channel

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