How can we create Impact in the events industry? The IMEX Talking Point for 2024

By Kit Watts

4 mins

In 2024, IMEX's Talking Point is Impact. How can we as an industry create a postive Impact?

Ever since we introduced our annual Talking Point, which acts as a single, cohesive theme for our two market—leading trade shows, we’ve gleaned huge satisfaction from exploring and planning the impact we could make with it each year.

Previous Talking Points included:

  • Legacy
  • Imagination
  • Nature
  • Human Nature

Having lived through so much change in the global events industry, and having initiated so much change within IMEX as a company, all signs pointed towards Impact being right for our 2024 Talking Point.

Impact Talking Point Graphic

What Impact means to IMEX

As always, we asked our own impactful leader, CEO, Carina Bauer, to give us her take on what Impact means to her and why it’s the right choice for 2024.

She says, “IMEX is in a unique position in the global events industry. We ‘only’ run two annual trade shows and yet, because of their global market significance, our team's visibility and experience, and our deep relationships with the sector, we’re often treated differently. That means people expect us to lead, to have a voice and to represent the best interests of all involved. I’ve learned not to take this responsibility lightly but to embrace it as an extraordinary opportunity to make a bigger, positive impact on the world."

“This became acutely meaningful for me and many other business leaders and owners during the pandemic. Like it or not, it was rich with painful lessons, and it changed us. I used that time to focus on changing aspects of the company knowing this would positively impact our shows and our clients in the future."

How can we keep learning and growing in the events industry– work on yourself first

You’re never too old to learn. As a leader I know the health of my business is dependent on my own growth, and health longevity. That means I need to surround myself with experts, be they colleagues, authors, coaches, podcasters or people from a mastermind group. Some of those who’ve made a positive impact on how I lead the business in the past few years are: Aga Bajer who runs the CultureBrained Community, Jon Barnes—an organizational consultant and of course, the extraordinary IMEX team.

In terms of health, mine is a demanding job but I know from experience that the fitter and more active I am, the happier, stronger and less tired I feel, and the better my decision making becomes. It’s no coincidence that the most common practice of Fortune 500 CEOs is that they workout 4-5 times a week.

How IMEX is creating impact by celebrating our local community and supporting local businesses

I’m enormously proud of my Brighton (UK) roots but IMEX’s international success is something of a hidden secret in my hometown. It’s not surprising given that we don’t do any business in the UK, let alone the city. And given what I know about the power of events—and the events industry—to make a lasting positive impact on a local community, we’ve worked hard to cement productive and meaningful ties with local businesses as well as support organizations. Everything from lobbying Meeting Professionals International to bring EMEC to Brighton, to buying from local suppliers, to helping the city’s many homelessness charities work together and co-ordinate resources better, making a positive local impact is woven into who we are and how we show up, and we extend this care to our host cities Las Vegas and Frankfurt too.

Sustsinability as Impact

Sustainability as Impact. Improving environmental impact

Ever since our original PR advisor, Chris Martins, told us IMEX should be advocating for ‘green meetings’ in 2001 (!), we’ve been consistently committed to reducing the environmental impact of our shows. Initially we did it quietly, chipping away at change and pressing partners to make small but viable improvements. We learnt. They learnt. And we kept on asking. Now, 20 years on, we have a robust, informed and confident approach, aided by some excellent supply chain and venue partners who work with a well-informed, caring team who understand what’s possible, and why it’s important. This year, for example, we’ll be using the Better Stands 10-point framework to assess and improve stand sustainability at our shows. In this day and age there’s no excuse for specifying a build and burn stand. The same applies to single use plastic. We all know better, and we must do better! That's why IMEX is also on its way to being Net Zero by 2030. Easy to say.... The test lies in making it happen.

Be kind and compassionate—there's a science to it

If there’s one thing I really don’t like it’s virtue-signaling, and there’s a lot of it around especially at the corporate level. But genuine acts of kindness and generosity should be celebrated and encouraged. The world needs them! I find it fascinating that there’s a proven science to compassion and the positive impact it has on us as individuals and collectively as a society. Read 5 Ways Giving is Good for You for a deep dive into the science that proves being altruistic is both contagious and healthy. And let’s not forget, it feels good, doesn’t it? I think this is another reason live events are more powerful, effective and necessary than ever. Nothing beats being in the room with others to share the chemicals and visceral experience of kindness, generosity and human connection.

Finally, making an impact is about taking action

The word’s sitting right there to remind us that impact is nothing without doing. Intention is something, but action is everything. Whether you decide to change a small personal habit such as not sleeping or eating well enough or not speaking up at work, or your impact decision is a bigger one, such as volunteering to lead on a change project or launching a new purpose-led business venture, I encourage you to make 2024 your year of bigger, better, more positive impact.

If not now, then when?

Our IMEX shows will offer you lots of Impact ideas, activations and speakers including a new Impact education track. We’ve also added new impact factor bonus points to our Innovation in Sustainability Award this year, inspired by our Talking Point. Block the IMEX dates in your diary now, before it’s too late.

Let's go!

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About the author

Kit Watts has worked with the IMEX team in several guises, including PR and content, since the first IMEX Frankfurt in 2003.

Kit Watts

Communications Strategist