The show is less than two weeks away now, how are numbers looking?
We've grown again in terms of exhibitor numbers, space, hosted buyers and attendee registrations, so we're up in all areas. We had around 2,600 exhibitors last year and while I can't reveal numbers for this year's show yet, you will see a significant increase on 2013 numbers. Our appointments are also strong. It's going to be a very similar size to the Frankfurt show.
With Imex America now in its fourth year, how has the show evolved since its launch?
We've been on a steep growth curve since we launched. There has been about 55-60% growth on 2011, and importantly the understanding of the show has really grown in the US. Hosted buyer programmes are more of a European thing, and when we launched there were no big trade shows in the US market with large scale hosted buyer programmes using appointment systems. It was very new to the market so we had to do a lot of education around it. But the US buyers have really taken to it and come to the show with big budgets and ready to do business.
What's the mix of US buyers versus international?
We make sure at least 20% of hosted buyers are from outside North America. Our international buyers have to do significant business inside North America to qualify, while the American buyers have to also buy internationally to qualify. We think its important to focus not just on where the buyers are from but also were they do business.
What are your highlights this year?
There are lots of co-located events around the show, like Site Nite, which is in a new venue The Light Club this year, and MPI Rendevous, which has also moved to a new location. People really enjoy these social events and the chance to get together. Being in Vegas is also great as there is so much for people to do and it feels very different to Frankfurt as lots of people stay in the same hotel as the event so you see people from the show all the time.
We have such a broad scope of new exhibitors this year from cruise lines to a big increase in presence from Asia Pacific suppliers, so It will be exciting to see all those exhibitors coming on board. We've got a huge education programme and four really good keynote speakers on board. And we're also holding the Imex Challenge the weekend before and working with local Vegas charities including The Shade Tree, a local shelter for women and children who have been victims of domestic violence. We have volunteers who are going to transform their gardens.