News & Views

Four Tips To Conquering IMEX America

Mandy Espey, Supervisor of Events and Purchasing and Industry Relations at ITA Group

Next week, from Tuesday, Oct. 10 to Thursday Oct. 12, IMEX America will bring together thousands of professionals from every sector of the global meetings industry, to Las Vegas for one of the industry’s most notable MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) events. This year’s 3-day exhibition will be held at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, and will provide an invaluable opportunity for meeting planners to meet with US domestic suppliers, global tourist office and convention bureaus, major hotel companies, conference and exhibition centers, cruise lines, airlines, spa resorts, technology providers and event management specialists.

To first-time buyers attending IMEX – booking appointments, navigating the floor plan, and arranging a schedule that maximizes the three short days of the exhibition can be an overwhelming feat. To give first-time buyers a better understanding of how to optimize their experience at IMEX, Mandy Espey, Supervisor of Events and Purchasing and Industry Relations at ITA Group, shares her advice as a MICE industry veteran.

Espey has worked at ITA Group, one of the largest incentive houses in the country, for the past 12 years in operation management, and on-site program execution, later transitioning into purchasing as a Strategic Accounts Buyer. At ITA, she is responsible for conceptualizing events, building program budgets, negotiating supplier partner contracts and maintaining client and supplier relationships for both new and existing accounts. She shares her top tips for how to experience IMEX America, below:

  1. How do you prioritize the appointments you book? Is there a method to the madness?

This can be quite overwhelming for new people and it’s difficult to know where to start. I typically book appointments with suppliers I’m currently working on a program with (sourcing/contracting) to move the process along further, next I try to target suppliers where I feel my business is trending to go in the future and lastly I target suppliers where I know little or nothing about their destination/service. This way I can stay organized and prioritize appropriately.

  1. What do you do during your “down-time” at IMEX? Do you make time for breaks?

It’s important to block your schedule for the occasional break in the day to grab lunch, check email in the buyer lounge, etc. I like to start my days at 10 a.m. and end early afternoon so I can spend some time walking the show floor on my way out. I tend to like to end my day earlier as well so I can go back to my room, change and freshen up before the long night ahead (and change shoes, this is very important!). If I have an appointment with someone where I think I may run over time, I leave the next appointment time “free” as well so I don’t run behind on my schedule.

  1. With an enormous floor plan – what’s the best way to get from A to B?

It’s helpful to take a look at the show floor map and map out your appointments as you block your diary. I think it’s nice to block your appointments by either proximity or same topic – I may have 3 appointments in a row where I’m talking about the same program – so I get in a flow and can build on my conversation.

  1. Any IMEX tips or tricks that you can’t find in the program?

I would say take advantage of the “extras” offered by IMEX: pre-check, global entry interviews, head shots, etc. You can get a lot of “to-do’s crossed off your list that you don’t have time to do throughout the year! Lastly, don’t take a bag or trinkets at the booths – your bag will end up 50 lbs. at day’s end. I just have everyone send me information electronically.

#Eventprofs  any other tips for #IMEX17 first-timers? Tweet us @aboutdci! 


Written By

Pam Balakian

Pam boasts almost 30 years of experience in the Hotel Sales & Marketing Industry. She joined the team 25 years ago after working for Scott Calder Intl, a hotel sales & marketing firm that specialized in marketing & sales of deluxe hotels worldwide.

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