News & Views

How Destinations Can Maximize Efforts This Year at IMEX America

Left to right; Nicole LaVere, Sarah Williams


From Monday, October 15 to Thursday Oct. 18, 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 business events / MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) events.

In the meetings and conventions industry, IMEX America is the most attended industry event, according to our latest industry study, Winning Strategies – 56 percent of respondents reported having attended the trade show within the last three years. The study also states that meeting with destination representatives, through opportunities such as IMEX, along with visiting the destination are the top two ways meetings and events professionals form their perception of cities, states and countries.

While destinations and event suppliers have been busy preparing for the trade show with email blasts, special invitations and phone calls to try and fill up their diaries, meeting planners are strategically plotting out their schedules to ensure they are making the most of the annual gathering of industry professionals. To better understand the priorities of meeting planners and learn the reasons why they meet with some suppliers and opt out of meeting with others, we chatted with two top industry professionals to get their insights; Nicole LaVere, Sourcing Manager with the Creative Group and Sarah Williams, Sourcing & Proposal Design Manager with BCD Meetings & Events.


LaVere first gained industry experience working with a variety of popular hotel brands, Hilton, Marriott and Wyndham. In April 2015, she transitioned into meeting planning, her current role with Creative Group, Inc. as a Sourcing Manager.


Williams has been with the BCD M&E team for 18 years, and in the industry for 24 years. As a Sourcing & Proposal Design Manager, Sarah is responsible for creating strategic event solutions that WOW clients. With her wealth of industry knowledge, Sarah develops concepts for elite travel experiences, writes and designs proposals, and executes sourcing for clients.  Her role centers on destination and venue recommendation, program content development, and negotiating and contracting with suppliers around the globe.


Here are their insights into making the most out of the limited time at IMEX America:

  1. With hundreds of exhibitors vying for your time, share with us three key questions that you ask yourself when evaluating which suppliers to make appointments with at IMEX America?


Who are we currently working with? IMEX is a great opportunity to talk face to face with vendors and suppliers. What areas am I interested in learning more about? And finally, what trends are we currently seeing?


I make appointments with destinations and suppliers that I’m not able to see all the time, or will not get the chance to meet with face to face as often. I usually prefer to make overseas appointments since those are the hardest to visit and I do a lot of business there. We get a lot of face time with our Domestic partners so giving time to Int’l partners is a preference of mine, especially since I put business with their hotel/destination. Just to learn a bit more from them about their location and contract rules and how we can better partner.

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


It’s all about finding the right fit for what you are looking for and taking into consideration the location of the booths – it’s a big floor so booking back to back in the same areas will prevent you from rushing from one end to the other. Also talking with colleagues and booking to talk to suppliers together where it makes sense.


Not always a method, it all depends on where each booth is located. I try not to have to walk all over the world – literally. My plan is to book appointments with those partners that are near to each other and make sense for the business I put in their hotels/brands or destinations. I like to meet with CVB’s as well as they help me a lot overseas along the way with hotels for my specific business that I need.

3. What do you do during your “down-time” at IMEX? What are some of the best social events (either on the trade show floor or off) that you have attended during IMEX America over the last few years?


What down time?!  It’s go go go, but taking advantage of some of the entertainment Las Vegas has to offer is a nice compliment to the busy days.


I wish I had downtime at IMEX. We are kept pretty busy with events and appointments. Honestly since the time frame of flying and getting straight to the appointments, there’s not much time for much else other than our hosted events.  It’s exhausting and I wish they would allow an arrival day.

4. Which other trade shows and conferences do you plan to attend over the next 12 months?


I don’t have anything currently on the books, but we are preparing for our “Master Class”, where current clients come together to discuss trends, network and brainstorm best practices and share learnings.


Not sure at this time.


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