Belonging, creativity and the ‘Taylor Swift effect’ mark day one of IMEX Frankfurt

14 May 2024

Belonging, creativity and the ‘Taylor Swift effect’ were all themes that came through strongly in today’s education program and in conversations with buyers on the show floor on the opening day of IMEX Frankfurt 2024.

Fostering a sense of community is important for many attendees focused on rebuilding their networks post pandemic. JaNeece Strock from Alliances Management explains: “Most of our clients didn’t really go back to events until 2022 and because a lot of people left the industry during Covid, we’re now establishing new relationships with new people.”

The power of feeling as if you are part of a community sat at the heart of a session by Megan Henshall, Global Events Strategic Solutions Lead at Google, part of a series held at the Google Xi CoLaboratory. She guided attendees on the different pathways to foster a sense of belonging. “For an event to be truly successful, it must foster belonging, create community and generate meaning. We’re inviting event professionals to share their experiences and become active collaborators in our discovery work rooted in inclusive experience design,” explained Megan.

  1. Photo (left): Education at IMEX Frankfurt. Download image here
  2. Photo (right): First timers tour. Download image here

First timers – ‘it’s a sink-or-swim environment’

First timers at IMEX Frankfurt were welcomed with a dedicated ice breaker session designed to help them make friends with each other and ease themselves into a busy show.

Michael Badelt, who led the session, is a live-experience designer and theatrical attraction creator with over 20 years’ experience working in the theme park sector. He says: "For some people who are new to the show or the industry, going to IMEX can feel like a step into the unknown. I wanted to show that it's okay to feel fear and that overcoming it is such a joy as well as a source of empowerment. We ended with a small – but loud! – exercise to harness our collective power. It was certainly a lively and loud start to the show!"

Among the attendees was Evan Morgan from the Occasionall Group. He says: “I love events because it’s a creative industry and every day is different. In our sector you’re chucked in at the deep end. You may come in at an entry-level position, but be expected to step up – it’s a sink-or-swim environment! We’re in a fast-moving industry, so having fresh people come in from a younger age is important for creativity.”

The demand for an injection of creativity in events was shared by many planners. Chloe Smith from Glow says: “The main challenge? There’s a lack of innovation – and it can be difficult to find ideas and activities that are outside the box.”

Part of the new Impact Zone at the show’s Inspiration Hub was a session focused on encouraging a fresh approach through ‘serious play’. LEGO SERIOUS PLAY® to transform sustainable event planning, powered by memox, was led by Matthias Renner, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Facilitator at Brickolutio. He says: "My workshops show how our playful approach unites the analytical with the creative side of the brain to bring about real, impactful solutions for more sustainable event planning."

Hayley Landingham from Cisco talked about how they’ve found an inventive solution to attract employees back to in-person meetings: “Our virtual events are doing really well, but in-person not quite as much. We’re getting around this by organizing smaller intimate meetings, more one-on-one focus groups, and workshops. It is about giving attendees more power over content and giving them the chance to take something away that immediately benefits them versus a one-to-many delivery system. We're always on the lookout for that ‘a-ha’ moment.”

A Swift impact on destinations

The link between Taylor Swift and the events industry was the a-ha moment at the center of #Eventprofs unplugged. Tracy Halliwell from London & Partners and Michel Mari from Visit Paris joined the panel to share the impact of events in their destinations. Tracy said: “We’re set to host Taylor Swift in what will be the longest residency of any artist in Wembley Stadium. The fans represent a young generation who we hope will be repeat visitors to the city over subsequent years – doing business here, bringing their families on vacation and so on.”

Michel looked ahead to the Olympic Games held in Paris this summer. He said: “We saw a boost to the economy with Taylor’s concerts and we’ve made a huge investment in the city ahead of the Games with new arenas and public transport improvements.”

IMEX Frankfurt is currently taking place at Messe Frankfurt May 14 – 16.  #IMEX24

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Next year’s IMEX Frankfurt will take place May 20 – 22, 2025. 


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Press release

14 May 2024

Industry impact and growth leads the way: IMEX Frankfurt opens today