The secret sauce of business, the rise of incentives and positive destination impacts

Imex America 2023 Medium

Business and human connections continued to energize IMEX America on Wednesday as thousands of planners and suppliers powered through a second day of business meetings across the show floor, in coffee lines and cafes.

“Day one I negotiated a contract and day two we finalized it. It was for an association group. I’ve just had an appointment with a Fortune 500 financial institution, so I’m thrilled!” said Jessica Cox of Embassy Suites, Nashville Downtown.

Some of the business success stories have been underpinned by established relationships, many of which were forged at previous IMEX shows. Dawn Candrea of Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, explained: “I had a meeting with a client I met for the first time at IMEX America last year and this led to her signing a contract and booking a program. She returned to see me at the show and to rebook. The encounters and relationships made here are what I consider great success stories for us.”

Secret sauce
Relationship building is the “secret sauce” across many areas of the industry, including the association sector as KiKi L’Italien, CEO and founder of Amplified Growth, explained: “We have so many tools to help us, but the human connection—how we work together—is crucial.” Kiki was part of an Association Leaders Power Hour panel discussion on the show’s Inspiration Hub, sponsored by WebEx. The theme: how to build trust, membership retention, building a strong community and brand.

She shared some favorite communication hacks: “Communicate with consistency, clarity and transparency. There’s always a way we can improve on the way we communicate.”

Meg Fasy, founder and CEO of FazeFWD, also part of the panel, added: “Don’t be afraid to own your mistakes—this can reinforce relationships in the long run. It’s about having integrity.”

Incentives on the rise
Some of the trends apparent on the show floor include a lean toward incentives, particularly those that pull back the curtain on a destination to reveal a fuller cultural, artistic or other story.

“We received many inquiries for incentives—it feels like companies want to reward employees after the pandemic and thank them for their support. This puts Europe in a good place—it’s a special place to go because many people haven’t been there for so long” said Simon Kromer of the Vienna Convention Bureau.

Silvana Gomes, corporate and incentive coordinator at Embratur (Brazilian Promotional Board), agreed: “We’ve seen a high demand for incentives, especially educational sessions related to social impact and lived experiences. Planners are looking for ways that their groups can get a better sense of the way of life in a destination.”

Destinations also shared how they work with planners to create a positive impact in their location and foster a “shared sustainability sensibility” in a series of short case studies at the Inspiration Hub. Innovations and Impacts: Destination Case Studies attracted attention at the IMEX|EIC People and Planet Theater by offering practical advice and first-hand insights.

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