Over 3,500 exhibitors, 150 countries and 180+ education sessions make up IMEX America. Billed as “three days of discovery, business and learning” IMEX is one of the most preeminent events of its kind. Plus, this year it was in America’s Playground: Las Vegas.

But just because it happened in Vegas, it’s not going to stay there. Here’s the rundown of what happened to our team at one of the biggest expos in the United States

Experiential Activations

Walking in the door to IMEX, you’re inundated with the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of seemingly countless vendors at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. And we were pleased to see that most of these vendors had developed at least one experiential aspect to their booths. Experience does run the world, after all. Especially when it came to IMEX’s all-new area, Discovery Zone.

“With Imagination being the Talking Point for this year’s IMEX America, our new Discovery Zone provides vivid new experiences that will encourage attendees to stretch themselves – figuratively and imaginatively – testing the theory that experimentation leads to innovation,” Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group said in an interview with ETN.

Whether it was a selfie wall, a teeter-totter or even a little corner in which to meditate, these activations offered everyone an experiential opportunity, all the while learning about the exhibitor. And if you were vibing with what you discovered, you’d have the chance to set up an appointment with them.

In fact, our group hit it off quite well with the team behind Visit Dubai and we went to dinner with them.

It was a pretty powerful moment to us for to see in-person what we’ve been preaching.

Takeaway? Activations and experiences are only as useful as the human connections built around them.

Educational Opportunities

Another component IMEX presented was the opportunity to learn from individuals from across many different industries. IMEX presented these sessions in an interesting way.

“We were in these inflatable igloos to create separate temporary rooms for the educational piece,” Haley Kilar, Director at CONVRG said. “Then everyone had had these headphones, kind of like a silent disco, where we could hear the speaker give their presentation in their own personal headphones.”

The topics covered diverse areas of business, event tech, professionalism, public speaking and more. We hope that in the future IMEX continues to develop this area.

But one of the best educational opportunities offered by IMEX wasn’t found in a keynote – it was IMEX itself. We always love the chance to better ourselves when it comes to making experiences.

What We Loved

IMEX encouraged exhibitors and participants to get experiential. Especially when it came to the Discovery Zone. This area was for exhibitors of all sorts to use the power of experience to change hearts and minds.

“The Discovery Zone [was] very creative and makes IMEX really stand out from other events I’ve attended,” Patricia Torres, a hosted buyer from ISA CTEEP in Brazil, said in an interview with MPI. “This area encourages you to open your mind to new concepts and creative thinking.”

Imagination was the big talking point for 2019’s IMEX. Making the use of the experiential even more fitting during it.

What Could Be Better?

While we enjoyed our time at IMEX, the whole process of booking appointments and talking to vendors sometimes felt transactional. But that can be fixed.

As we like to say, at the core of every valuable experience is a human interaction. You can take a transactional relationship to an authentic one. Some of this comes through taking the time to cultivate it, not just booking it out in 30-minute slots. Starting these moments off with the right intention takes a relationship from transactional to relational.

That’s our goal as experience people. To help create and cultivate the relationships that started with shared experience.

At IMEX this year, we found lots of great shared experiences. But it takes that bit of refinement to turn “networking” into moments of authentic connection. Because that’s why we do what we do.

Header image ©IMEX, second image ©Haley Kilar for CONVRG, third image ©IMEX, fourth image ©IMEX.

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