What is a ‘talking point’. The IMEX Talking Point is designed “to galvanise the industry and our attendees and exhibitors around a topic we believe is both innovative and important”, a way to drive progress, creativity and collaboration across our industry. So through this theme, planners and suppliers will be able to discuss what we all can do for nature and what nature can do for us, exploring how to apply the principles of nature to business events. Dedicated learning opportunities and expert guidance at the show will help event professionals to produce ‘circular events’ that celebrate the natural world.
How it will apply. The concept will be covered in the educational sessions, and some of the specialised events within the show (dedicated events for corporate planners, for associations…) will also include an element of sustainability. Policymakers will also analyse what has to be improved around the world in order to be more sustainable. There will be a crowdsourcing session about how professionals include sustainability in their planning process. IMEX will also launch a research report on this topic, supported by Marriott International. The show aims to bring research and data to the industry, so Guy Bigwood and his team at the Global Destination Sustainability Index will work with academics and researchers Janet Sperstad and Amanda Cecil to produce a series of studies that will give meetings and event planners an understanding of nature’s relationship to human experience, human performance and memorable events.
Integration in the show design. The show’s educational spaces will be redesigned to make them more friendly. Some spaces on the show will recreate an ocean or forest, including visual elements and space design. The show design itself will apply sustainability principles. “We build IMEX to be as sustainable as possible. We had a sustainability consultant for nine years. We do this for ourselves but also as a showcase for meetings professionals”, she adds. IMEX will also ask exhibitors to integrate the concept in their design, an interesting reminder that events are a huge ecosystem and their sustainability depends on the convergence of efforts by many players.
Nature as a source of inspiration. This project is not limited to protecting nature; it also involves learning from it. Nature can indeed also be a source of great inspiration. “We wanted to shed light on the natural world but also what we can learn from the natural world to create better meetings, better buildings” says Carina. She stresses that “incorporating nature is valuable: for instance getting people outdoors at some point in the conference to get fresh air, making sure the light is right… these elements improve productivity”.
Circularity. Another learning from nature is its circularity, an idea we can include in our meeting design. “In Nature waste doesn’t exist, everything has a purpose and holds value for something else”, said Carina in another interview. “Circular thinking is also the next step on from ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ and many see it as the only way forward for a planet whose natural resources are being used up, worn out, or destroyed”. This circularity can apply in event design materials, but even in content management: “Is the content building on other contents and experiences and will they apply in the next meeting? Does it live beyond the days of the event? All is connected and every element of the show (its content for instance) should incorporate that”. Another teaching? Nature also flourishes when it is varied, which can remind us of the need to incorporate equally all types of talents into our companies.
A threat, and an opportunity. How about the mere polluting effect of these large international events? “Coming to a meeting like IMEX, you save the time and CO2 of many other meetings”, says Carina. And she sets the bar high for our future events: “We can work to make sure our events are carbon-neutral and don’t generate waste” she says. It is a matter of survival: “If we improve our events and make them more sustainable, then there is not much threat, but if we don’t, then there definitely is” she says.
Just the beginning. In a post-Greta world, we are all more aware of the importance of sustainability, but Carina stresses the depth of the change: “Yes, the global media are very focused on these issues, and corporations are increasingly taking this responsibility into account, talking not only about their profits but also about people and the planet”. And this will only intensify: “This is the first year GenZ enters the workforce. And soon they will be more numerous than Millennials. This is a really different world we are living in today”. Get ready!
The show will take place in Frankfurt, 12–14 May, gathering 3,500 exhibitors from 150 countries.
https://www.imex-frankfurt.com/ Registration is free