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What's New in Meetings and Trade Shows: IMEX America 2022 Recap, Hurricane Ian Relief Efforts, New Leaders at Events DC and SITE, and More

BizBash rounds up the latest news related to meetings, trade shows, and CVBs/DMOs.

During IMEX America 2022's closing press conference, IMEX Chairman Ray Bloom said that this year's trade show was 45% bigger than last year due to an easing of travel restrictions, plus 40% of returning exhibitors taking more booth space.
During IMEX America 2022's closing press conference, IMEX Chairman Ray Bloom said that this year's trade show was 45% bigger than last year due to an easing of travel restrictions, plus 40% of returning exhibitors taking more booth space.
Photo: Courtesy of IMEX America

We're rounding up the biggest meeting, trade show, and CVB/DMO news of the month—in one convenient place. Got a tip? Get in touch! Want more content like this sent directly to your inbox? Then sign up for our brand-new BizBash Meetings & Trade Shows monthly newsletter to stay in the know on the latest meetings and trade show news.

In Case You Missed It
It was another busy month for our Meetings & Trade Shows vertical. In October, we wrote about Seattle's game-changing convention campus addition (which debuts in January) after getting a hard-hat tour at the end of September. And we took a look at some dazzling destinations that would make brilliant buyouts for your next corporate meeting or incentive trip (think: castles, private islands, and historic landmarks).

This month, we also covered Walmart's annual holiday meeting and how the retail giant kept 5,500 employees engaged on-site in Denver. BizBash also got a behind-the-scenes look at New York Comic Con and spoke with the convention's event producer about what it takes to draw attention at the massive event. Finally, we took a deep dive on corporate wellness retreats, and how resorts and facilities are welcoming a new wave of health-conscious group travel.

Here are five more things you should know about this month...

1. IMEX America returned full throttle.
Wondering what people cared most about at IMEX? Read our on-site reporting from BizBash senior editor Shannon Thaler. For a quick recap, we'll just say that the annual convention for the meetings and events industry was back full throttle. By the numbers, the event—which took place Oct. 11-13 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas—drew 12,068 meeting and event prof attendees, 4,339 total buyer attendees, and 62,000 on-site appointments. Big news unveiled during the show included the rebranding of merged event-tech suppliers MeetingPlay, Aventri, and eventcore into Stova.

During the show's closing press conference, IMEX Chairman Ray Bloom said that the 2022 trade show was 45% bigger than last year due to an easing of travel restrictions, plus 40% of returning exhibitors taking more booth space. International exhibitors returned in strong numbers too, he added. Of those who doubled the size of their booths, 24% were from North America, 23% were hotel groups, 15% were European, and 12% were from Asia. Latin America and tech exhibitors also showed significant increases, he noted.

"That’s not to deny that challenges remain," Bloom said during the press conference, according to an IMEX press release. "Equally, it seems buyers are being more discerning. We’ve heard they’re preparing RFPs in more detail and being more rigorous in their selection criteria."

IMEX Chairman Ray Bloom revealed key numbers of the 2022 show during a closing press conference on the final day.IMEX Chairman Ray Bloom revealed key numbers of the 2022 show during a closing press conference on the final day.Photo: Courtesy of IMEX America

2. Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show supports those impacted by Hurricane Ian.
Hurricane Ian, the deadliest hurricane to strike the state of Florida since 1935, caused widespread damage and power outages, with heavy rainfall and destructive storm surges and winds. To support rebuilding efforts for the hospitality industry, the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, which plans to take place Nov. 1-3 in Orlando, announced it will donate all registration fees to support those impacted by the hurricane. The show will also collect financial donations, food, equipment, and other items for a new disaster relief fund being formed by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA).

“After consultation with our association partner, the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, exhibitors, attendees, and our venue partner, The Caribe Royale, we have made the decision to continue hosting the event next month and take this opportunity to provide direct support for the rebuilding and recovery of our industry," said Rita Ugianskis, vice president for the Clarion Events Food & Beverage Group, in a press release.

The show also announced that new content will be added to "help the community affected by the storm to navigate the resources needed to begin to rebuild." This includes a panel that will touch on crisis planning on Tuesday, and a general session that will look at the foodservice industry’s recovery from the impact of Hurricane Ian on Wednesday. Registration for the show is open here.

Looking for more ways to support those impacted in Florida? Visit Fort Myers shared that a relief fund has been set up for its area's hospitality workers. 

3. Events DC names new president and CEO.Angie M. GatesAngie M. GatesPhoto: Marcus Bennett
Beginning Nov. 14, there will be a new leader at the helm of Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for Washington, D.C. Earlier this month, the board of directors for the organization named Angie M. Gates as the next president and CEO after an extensive national search. Gates most recently served as the city's Director of the Office of Cable, Television, Film, Music and Entertainment (OCTFME). 

"With decades of experience in the venue management and entertainment industries and a deep understanding of D.C., Angie will work tirelessly with staff, our customers, and other stakeholders to guide our organization through an extraordinary time in the District," Events DC Chairman Max Brown said in a press release.

Gates's background in entertainment includes serving as the first Black general manager of D.C.'s iconic Warner Theatre. Did you know she's also an Emmy-winning executive producer? She won the award during her time at OCTFME for the magazine format talk showThe 202, which airs on OCTFME’s DCN Network.

“As a Ward 6 resident, Washington, D.C. has been my home for many years, and the opportunity to lead this organization is an incredible honor," Gates said in a press release. “When I look toward the future, I’m inspired by the work of my predecessors and the commitment of the Events DC team to foster community across all eight wards and continue to bring in conventions and meetings from across the country and, indeed, the world. I will continue to further Events DC’s initiatives, such as our 9th Street retail project, booking events at the ESA in Ward 8, and, importantly, supporting our customers and partners who rely on us every day at the convention center.”

4. There's also a new leader at the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE).
A new CEO has also been announced for SITE—and she hails from Meeting Professionals International (MPI). The incentive travel organization announced last week that Annette Gregg will step into the role (taking over from interim executive director Rebecca Wright), and will serve both SITE and the SITE Foundation. She joins SITE following her position as chief revenue officer with MPI.

“We’re thrilled to announce Annette Gregg as our new CEO knowing that the depth of her experience, the strength of her relationships, and the clarity of her vision will help SITE navigate the road ahead and realize its vision to build and bridge cultures through the transformative power of incentive travel and motivational experiences,” SITE president Kevin Edmunds said in a press release.

Gregg added, "My appointment as chief executive officer at SITE will allow me to integrate my career experience to help move this legacy association to new heights. I have always been convinced of the transformative power of travel experiences for individuals, enterprises, communities, and society at large. I look forward to working closely with SITE’s IBOD and IBOT, its global committees and chapters, and our 2,000+ global members to make the business case for incentive travel and spread the story of travel as transformation. It’s a true honor to take on the role of CEO as SITE embarks on its 50th anniversary.”

5. Tourism Australia launches new global campaign.
Tourism Australia wants international travelers (both business and leisure) to "come and say g'day" to the land Down Under. The organization is launching a new global campaign—dubbed "Come and Say G’day"—to entice markets like the U.S. and the U.K. to book travel to Australia. The campaign is one of the country's many marketing pushes since its borders reopened earlier this year to all fully vaccinated visitors. The new campaign will run in 60-, 30-, and 15-second broadcast ads, as well as in print, social, digital, and content marketing initiatives.

“After a challenging time around the world, our uplifting and joyful campaign will stand out in what is a highly competitive international tourism market," Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison said in a press release.

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