Making connections

The minds behind IMEX Frankfurt 2016 discuss the show’s complex software, long-term partnerships and balancing the latest tech with a personal touch.

Twitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn
IMEX-new-resized.jpg

If you walked into the small IT office at IMEX Frankfurt, you might not believe it’s the base for a unique software system that has been 15 years in the making.

 

“The fun thing is that back then, none of us really had any inkling of what we wanted,” says Simon Clayton, chief ideas officer at RefTech. “The reason it’s stood up so well for so many years is that we built in flexibility to start with.”

 

IMEX, which has shows in Frankfurt and Las Vegas, has become a mainstay in the incentive travel and meetings sector in part due to its emphasis on pre-scheduled appointments.

 

An event registration and badging company, RefTech was selected in 2001 (two years before the first IMEX exhibition) to build a bespoke backend system for the show. The result was a portal for hosted buyers and exhibitors allowing them to connect online before the show.

 

One of the main benefits of this system is that buyers and exhibitors can exchange information and send proposals before they meet in person. According to IMEX CEO Carina Bauer, this helps both sides have a more efficient two days:

 

“Ultimately they’ve only got 30 minutes, and by the time they arrive and say hello it’s more like 25. The people that use the technology well can have a really productive time,” she tells EN.

 

“It’s all about trying to maximise the value of the time that people have here,” Clayton adds. “The last thing they want to do is wander around aimlessly. You’re making the event more valuable for everyone concerned.”

 

Peaks and troughs

 

According to Clayton, one of the quietest periods for the portal is during the show itself.

 

“In the run up to the show there are so many people making so many appointments,” he explains. “One of the problems is that you get peaks and troughs in demand. At 8am on Monday morning you suddenly get all the really proactive exhibitors going ‘right, got to send an email’.”

 

In the run up to the show an average buyer can expect to receive between 2,500 and 3,000 emails, which means that in total the website will be required to host millions of emails.

 

“It’s a huge load on the server,” continues Clayton, “We have to do a lot of work in the background to ensure that it carries on being responsive. There’s a huge amount that goes on behind the scenes that no one every really notices or thinks about. And that’s how it should be.

 

“I’ve said many times that if software does what it’s designed to do then no one should notice it. It’s when it does something wrong that people get annoyed. And it’s only when it does something incredible that people get excited.”

 

The personal touch

 

The collaboration between IMEX and RefTech is far from the only long-running business relationship the show has brought about.

 

“For us it’s all about partnerships and learning to work together,” says Nikki Williams, director of hosted buyer programmes at IMEX. Williams is celebrating her 20th year working with IMEX Group CEO Ray Bloom.

 

“The team is so important to Ray,” continues Williams. “Without the team there wouldn’t be IMEX. If there’s something bad that you have to tell someone then you have to go and talk to them face to face.”

 

Every year Bloom stands at the bottom of the stairs and shakes hands with visitors as they leave the show.

 

“People are always surprised to see you in person because they see IMEX as this big faceless machine,” adds Williams.

 

This perception is likely due to the success of the show, which this year welcomed almost 9,000 visitors and more than 3,500 exhibiting companies.

 

For CEO Carina Bauer, the popularity of the show is easily explained: “Online is great, technology is great, but it can only take you so far. We try and get people to the point that when they’re meeting face-to- face it’s a productive conversation.

 

“It’s not by luck that people are doing lots of business on the show floor. It’s something that takes detailed understanding and detailed writing.”

 

When asked to account for the success of the relationship between IMEX and RefTech, Bauer thinks for a moment, before saying “Simon is very skilled at listening to what we say we want, and then working out what it is we actually want.”

 

IMEX Frankfurt 2016 took place on 19-21 April at Messe Frankfurt.

 

Twitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn

Related Stories

Elsewhere on EN

Fast Forward 15 encourages future female talent to apply

Fast Forward 15 encourages future female talent to apply

Industry initiative Fast Forward 15 is looking for its third intake of mentees.
ESSA partners with Department for International Trade

ESSA partners with Department for International Trade

The Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) has announced it has entered into a partnership with the Department for International Trade (DIT) aimed at giving members resources for overseas trading.
Hiring companies announced for The Eventice

Hiring companies announced for The Eventice

Apprentice-style competition The Eventice has announced that Bluehat Group, Artexis Easyfairs and Identity Group will be offering event industry roles to the winners.

WATCH THE EN AWARDS 2016 HIGHLIGHTS


silverstream.tv

Most read Stories

Building emerald cities

Building emerald cities

From Malaria to Blenheim, through to UBM, Jane Risby-Rose – the 20-year story of her yellow brick road industry journey.
5 top marketing tips from AEO Forums 2016

5 top marketing tips from AEO Forums 2016

Looking to the future and learning from the past at AEO Forums 2016.
2 Minutes with Sarah Mayo

2 Minutes with Sarah Mayo

Sarah Mayo, marketing director EMEA, Freeman and FreemanXP talks about her new role, playing golf with Westlife and the skills needed in our industry.

Latest News

Fast Forward 15 encourages future female talent to apply

Fast Forward 15 encourages future female talent to apply

Industry initiative Fast Forward 15 is looking for its third intake of mentees.
ESSA partners with Department for International Trade

ESSA partners with Department for International Trade

The Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) has announced it has entered into a partnership with the Department for International Trade (DIT) aimed at giving members resources for overseas trading.
Hiring companies announced for The Eventice

Hiring companies announced for The Eventice

Apprentice-style competition The Eventice has announced that Bluehat Group, Artexis Easyfairs and Identity Group will be offering event industry roles to the winners.

Latest Galleries

London Boat Show 2017

London Boat Show 2017

Award-winning British actress Joanna Lumley OBE was on hand when the London Boat Show officially opened to crowds at ExCeL London.
NHM’s last dance with Dippy

NHM’s last dance with Dippy

The Natural History Museum hosted a New Year celebration for 600 revellers to make history and be part of the final event with the iconic Dippy the Diplodocus in the Hintze Hall.
Christmas lunch at ExCeL

Christmas lunch at ExCeL

Mash Media, ExCeL London and Brand Events came together with other industry bodies to host a festive lunch across East End London for Newham communities.

Latest Opinions

10 years in the making

10 years in the making

As the association has gone from strength to strength over the last 10 years, Andrew Harrison, ESSA director talks achievements, expertise and knowledge.
The Dealmaker in January

The Dealmaker in January

Steve Monnington of Mayfield Media Strategies runs the rule over the latest global exhibition deals.
‘We are the torchbearers’

‘We are the torchbearers’

Julian Agostini, Mash Media MD, on the importance of sticking to your guns and not making excuses.