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IMEX Files: New Year, New Talking Point

In what has become a yearly tradition, IMEX Group starts the New Year with an interview with CEO Carina Bauer (pictured above) about the choice and the thinking behind this year’s IMEX Talking Point: NATURE.

Q: Carina, can you put this idea of a Talking Point in context and also explain this year’s theme?

A:  Over the past few years we’ve been using this concept of an annual Talking Point to galvanize the industry and our attendees and exhibitors around a topic we believe is both innovative and important. We’ve learned some great lessons about how our Talking Point can drive positive progress, creativity and collaboration across the global business events industry.

Nature arose organically and it sort of chose itself. And that’s because no matter where you look or how you to choose to see the world, Mother Nature clearly needs our help! At IMEX we believe nature has many of the answers we urgently need to solve some big, real world challenges. Take diversity for example and then pick up a bestseller such as ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’. Here you learn that a forest is a self-balancing ecosystem that can only grow healthily because of diversity. It cannot flourish any other way and certainly not as a monoculture or a setting in which only one or two types of tree dominate. Look in a different direction and you’ll hear revered and much-loved scientists and conservationists including Sir David Attenborough or Dr. Jane Goodall telling us emphatically ‘there is a still a window of time. Nature can win if we give her a chance.’ This is why we’re running our nature theme over two years rather than just one. It—she—deserves more time and attention.

Q: What can the industry expect to see and learn about nature then?

By exploring nature and asking questions such as ‘What can we do for nature?’, ‘What can nature do for us?’ we’re instinctively leading the industry towards some powerful business disruptors. Take the circular economy, for example. The circular business model doesn’t have huge traction in the events industry yet but it’s coming up fast in other sectors (fashion being a big one) and we’re proud to be leading the way with education and information that could be transformative for the events sector. In nature waste doesn’t exist, everything has a purpose and holds value for something else. It’s the perfect embodiment of circularity. The circular model recognizes our historic ‘take, make, waste’ model won’t work for much longer and we’ll be there to guide and support planners in this new way of event design. Circular thinking is also the next step on from ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ and many see it as the only way forward for a planet whose natural resources are being used up, worn out, or destroyed without much thought for the future.

Q: How do you know if this Talking Point is going to work – and how do you define ‘work’ in this context?

We start by testing the concept on a few of our key partners and exhibitors and for nature their feedback was extremely positive. This is a subject that every exhibitor, partner, supplier and buyer can relate to whether they have a USP that promotes an extraordinary natural habitat or a breath-taking new BREEAM or LEED-certified hotel or resort. And before anyone gets the wrong idea, I want to make it clear we’re not celebrating natural landscapes over and above the built environment. With 60 percent of the world’s population forecast to live in cities by 2030, we want to explore how the design principles of nature can enhance human performance, improve meetings and business events and add to a richer experience of life. Expect some fascinating insights from architects, planners and designers and expect to become familiar with some new terms, including biomimicry, which is using the models and systems of nature in design, and biophilia, which describes ‘the affinity between human beings and the natural world.’

We plan to weave a host of ideas into our show experiences in Frankfurt (May 12-14) and Las Vegas (Sept. 15-17), our education programs, year-round content plus eye-catching sponsorship activations and a massive new research study. In fact, for IMEX in Frankfurt, we’re undertaking a complete redesign of Hall 9 where our education and live experiences take place, using nature as the blueprint.

Q: You mention research. What can we expect?

We’re enormously proud and excited to be working with two incredible organizations over the next two years to put strong research and data into the meetings and events market. Guy Bigwood and his team at the Global Destination Sustainability Index will work with leading academics and researchers Janet Sperstad and Amanda Cecil to produce a series of studies that will give meetings and event planners practical understanding and fresh insights into nature’s relationship to human experience, human performance and memorable events. At the same time, we’ll explain and introduce the circular economy.

IMEX Group brings the global meetings industry together in one place at one time, twice a year. For more info, visit https://www.imexexhibitions.com/

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