Skip to main content

Because it was an event with so much to unpack, today we’re bringing you the IMEX America 2019 highlights! But this time around, we’re doing it Event Brew style. You already know this is the best podcast in the industry to learn what event professionals talk about behind closed doors. It’s your time to relax and get to the nitty-gritty of all the hottest topics and trends, unfiltered. And of course, featuring some of the most influential hosts working in events.

New call-to-action

So on today’s edition, Will Curran, Nick Borelli, Thuy Diep, and Dustin Westling are tackling all the best bits from IMEX America. What did they like? What got them extremely excited? And what are their opinions about the overall event? Choose your favorite brew and get’s going. It’s time to talk IMEX America 2019 highlights!

Click here for the full audio transcription.

IMEX America 2019 highlightsThe Road To IMEX America

Nick’s First Time

Our four hosts all have pretty different histories with the event. So before we tackle the actual IMEX America 2019 highlights, let’s hear how their journeys began. “Mine came in through SEARCH Foundation. They heard about our foundation, they wanted to have a conversation with us”, recalls Nick, who’s been coming to IMEX America since the very beginning. “The majority of the attendees are at least senior or vetted in some other fashion based on that they do in international business. All we knew from coming from other shows was, boy, these are really serious people, you know? First-year here and also just representing a small foundation”.

Thuy’s First Time

“I was a student becoming a young professional. And I attended the feature leaders forum that IMEX sponsors and handles, and it’s kind of like a mini IMEX. But for young professionals and they’re usually seniors in college”, recalls Thuy. ” So I came and we were a partner, of course. We have our booths here. But then I started becoming just so entailed in just the nuances of it. Because it’s unlike any others in regard to the amount of networking that you do”.

“And the diversity of networking as well”, adds Nick. “There are a lot of people who come from very different places that you don’t really get access to in any other way”.

Will’s First Time

This is Will’s fourth year in the row coming to IMEX. The first time around, “I came here for Creative Event Team. And I was asked to speak at the meeting they had. And then Julius and I collaborated and built this; well, it’s his event, the Event Tech of the Year event”, he recalls. “That was also the first time we ever did it live from IMEX for #EventIcons. And now we’ve done it every single time. And what’s funny is, at that conference though… I mean, I sat in that room and oh my God, I was star-struck”.

Dustin’s First Time

For Dustin, 2019 marked his first year at IMEX America. “I came to support this team and to launch Event Brew”, he says. “So, I think first impressions, it is a very, very well put together and well-run conference. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a conference this size and the scale of it is just, it’s just crazy. Trade show for the first time, that is just ginormous. And it’s a whole lot of people being represented, and there’s a hustle in that room that is unlike something that I’ve seen before”.

IMEX America 2019 highlightsIMEX America 2019 Highlights

The Takes Of A First Timer

“Great booth designs. I will say that as an attendee, that’s not a hosted buyer, I’m not even an attendee buyer”, says Dustin, “It’s like, I really was just there to walk around, and I don’t know that I engaged a whole lot. Just because there’s a lot of serious business happening in there”. Plus, he adds that “everybody here is focused. They’re engaged, and they’re scheduled, and they’re programmed”.

“I’ve noticed that people here are ready to buy”, adds Will. “Like, I can have conversations outside of the trade show floor. It’s not the trade show that enables it, it’s just like this whole entire event”. Dustin was also incredibly surprised by “the number of events that happen after hours. And you know, for somebody that arrived on Monday with no real plan, and no real idea. And the number of things that people are so generous to be like, “You need to come to this. You need to come to this, come with me. Here’s a wristband, here’s this, here’s this. That is really quite amazing”.

IMEX America 2019 Highlights; The Design News

“It’s really interesting to see all the different countries represented and how they represent their countries”, adds Dustin. Clearly, a lot of people took risks with their design. “And I like that because again, the safe one is so safe”, Nick chips in. “It’s like, “Alright, let’s do a top five of what people think about our country.” And then it’s like, “Right, so there’s a mountain and then there’s…” And they tick all the boxes and they play into stereotypes and they, you know, they just jump right into what you expect”.

“As far as the design perspective too, I did want to give a shout out at the coworking spaces right outside this recording studio”, says Will. “Brandt and I talked a little bit about how events need a coworking space. Because it inspired me a lot after we recorded the personal attendee strategies”.

The Social Media Magic In The IMEX America 2019 Highlights

Thuy gives a shoutout to the event. “Can you imagine the IMEX media team? They do so much”. But it was a wild ride to get to where they are right now, as Nick reminds us. “One year there was just, like, a million people doing social media at once. And then they would just aggregate and gatekeep and that was it. And then Miguel kind of kicked off that whole on the street video thing”.

“You can see that they are just laser-focused. They know what’s matters and they know what to say no to”, adds Will. “They did an experiment, I think for maybe a year to two years. As far as going from a high volume amount of man-on-the-street kind of like interviews. So interrupting people, to like higher production, more thoughtful exchanges”, explains Nick. “So, I think that they take a gamble, then they tested measure, and then they either double down or they cut”.

But what are the inner working of the IMEX America media center? “So it’s like three parts”, Will explains. “You have the media team’s office, which obviously they’re like editing videos, they’re social media. And they’re crisis communication plans and they’re everything like that. Then the next kind of section in the middle is a meeting room for press to interview people. It’s a little bit quieter, there’s actually hardwired internet, low seating. And then what most people don’t realize is there’s a press center where they do press announcements”.

Nick’s Change Of Pace

This is the first year where hasn’t been the hosted buyer. So, that means fewer obligations on the table. What does that feel like? “First off it, yeah, it’s a burden”, he says. “You feel it, right? It’s most of your time. I’m a spontaneous person, so it’s real. But again, these are supposed to be the most meaningful reasons that you’re there. You’re here to do something. So I get it, but for me, I literally only talk to event technology people. And the percentage of them that are new is so low”.

“But ultimately I wasn’t really getting the full value of my time there”, adds Nick. “And I just saw the opportunity cost for like great conversations that just pick up on the floor to be so much more valuable than a couple of nights stay”.

IMEX America 2019 Highlights – A Great Trend

Nick recalls all the Corporate Social Responsibility activities going on in the booths at IMEX. In particular, this one instance where “it’s the hundredth anniversary of Hilton. So they decided to celebrate by getting into some kind of a water conservation initiative. You get a water bottle that’s recycled and that if you use it more than two times, it’s officially sustainable”. IMEX took it one step further. “There’s no single-use plastics, period”, adds Will. “So, in the studio, we weren’t allowed to be given any plastic cups”.

Another curious thing in the food and beverages department was the Impossible burgers, which don’t contain meat. “It wasn’t that you ordered a burger and then they said, “Hey, for a dollar you can get the Impossible burger. Or for a dollar, you can get a veggie patty, or you can get a chicken sandwich”, explains Will. “It was, you got the Impossible burger and you paid extra if you wanted meat”.


And that’s a wrap on this week’s edition of Event Brew? How did you like our IMEX America 2019 highlights? If you were there, what else did you find noteworthy? Let us now in the comments below. And don’t forget to tune in next week for some extra brewing!

Resources For More IMEX America 2019 Highlights:

New call-to-action

Thuy Diep

Author Thuy Diep

Thuy's purpose in life is to positively impact our #eventprofs industry along with the participants involved by designing memorable experiences they’ll alter their thoughts on life. Outstanding multitasking, organizational skills with a can-do attitude, and ability to prioritize and work independently!

More posts by Thuy Diep
Share via
Send this to a friend