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Lessons learned at IMEX America

The third edition of IMEX America, which was held in Las Vegas in October, proved to be the largest yet. IMEX Group Chairman Ray Bloom announced significant increases in all areas of the show.

IMEX America, a worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events, is the largest tradeshow for the industry in the U.S. Hosted buyer numbers — professional meeting planners and corporate incentive travel users — increased from 2,400 in 2012 to just under 2,700 this year. Exhibitors increased from 2,413 in 2012 to 2,694 this year.

Aside from incentive travel and meetings being planned right on the show floor — Bloom reported that one company booked 10,000 room nights in Austin, Texas — there was a wealth of valuable education. Meeting Professionals International, the show’s strategic partner, developed a strong education component that featured Smart Monday, a daylong lineup of “deep dives” on the day before the show opened, as well as “camp fire” sessions on the show floor each day of the show.

Here are some of the key insights from those sessions.

Successful celebrations — Scott Friedman, Chief Celebration Officer at Friedman & Associates, shared best practices in workplace recognition garnered from “the world’s most admired organizations.” Four elements that are essential for successful celebration of workplace successes: inclusiveness, gratitude, play and surprise. “Wake up with an attitude of gratitude and not just an attitude,” Friedman said.

Heed generational differences – Paul Gordon, Sales Vice President at Rymax Marketing Services, presented insights on tailoring rewards to multiple generations of event and meetings attendees and clients. Baby boomers tend to appreciate rewards that are more traditionally brand- and family-oriented, whereas GenXers prefer items that are functional and help them when working and traveling. Millennials, who will make up 50 percent of the workforce by next year, are looking for rewards that are fashionable and electronic and that foster peer-to-peer recognition or connection.

BYOM (bring your own motivation) – Employees are responsible for providing their own motivation, said Paul Bridle in his presentation entitled “Leadership From Within.” “If managers take that role away, they do them a disservice. Leaders provide an environment where a highly motivated person can accomplish some incredible stuff.”

Put your knowledge to work – Keynoter Eileen McDargh, CEO of The Resilient Spirit, emphasized the importance of adaptability, agility and “laugh-ability” in today’s turbulent workplace. “To know and not to do is not to know,” she said. “Put something in action.”

The Zappos way – Jenn Lim, consultant to Zappos (headquartered in Las Vegas) and CEO of Delivering Happiness, gave a keynote address on the dedication needed to create a corporate and client service culture that delivers personal emotional connections (PEC).  PEC in turn builds happy and productive employees and delighted, returning customers.  

Educational “campfires” were held each day on the show floor at IMEX America. The show also featured a Tech Hub on the show floor and “Smart Monday,” a series of deep-dive seminars on the day before the show opened.