A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to be part of the hosted buyer’s group for HelmsBriscoe at IMEX 2012. It’s the perfect place to build and maintain relationships. HelmsBriscoe is the industry leader for meeting procurement. We assist clients in finding the perfect venue (hotels, convention centers etc) for their conferences and meetings worldwide. At IMEX we were a group of about 80 associates participating in the hosted buyer program and the biggest group as such. IMEX is THE European trade show for the MICE industry (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Events). This year’s show had 3500 exhibitors and 4000 hosted buyers from over 60 countries. Exhibitors consist of: hotels, conference venues, national and local convention bureaus, tourism boards, destination marketing companies and innovative technology companies from all over the world. There were 140 different seminars and educational session on offer throughout the 3 days.
In Southern Africa we’re very much building the team and name of HelmsBriscoe. It was fantastic to see how well known we are with all the popular as well as boutique hotel chains in Europe and The United States. HelmsBriscoe has established partnerships with all of them. Some hotels get more than 30% of their conference bookings through HelmsBriscoe. Every day of the trade show we were invited for networking breakfasts to meet with the international sales teams and get to know each other. Since I’m quite new with HelmsBriscoe, I don’t know yet where my future bookings will take place but the world is my oyster!! Besides meeting with all the hotels, it was great to get to know so many colleagues. Although we are all independent licensees many team-up for bigger projects. It was great to see how many associates have build great friendships. I’m very happy to be part of a very professional group of individuals. It really was quite extraordinary.
At IMEX I made sure to visit the Dutch Tourism & Convention board. I attended destination presentations from Geneva, Argentina, Brazil, Singapore, Dubai, Kenya and China. I went to see representatives from hotels like Hilton, Hyatt, Radisson, Corinthia Hotels, Maritim, Hotels van Oranje, Apollo Hotels & Resorts, Melia hotels , Concorde Hotels and many many more. South Africa launched the new National Convention Bureau and the Cape Town International Convention Center wins Gold in the IMEX2012 Green Suppliers Award.
From the 140 educational sessions, I was only able to attend a few because I was so jampacked with meetings. One seminar that I wanted to attend was: ‘The IMEX Power of 10 Study – What does the next decade hold for the global meetings industry? I will include the findings in another blog post. The educational session about COP17 (Climate Change Conference), the Durban experience was incredible. Great presentation by the CEO of the Durban ICC about all the ins and outs of organizing such a big event with such stringent security in place and how to deal with a massive storm the night before the conference opened.
To be part of IMEX was a great experience. It was valuable to me to meet so many fantastic colleagues and to hear about all the positive feedback from the hotels that work with HelmsBriscoe. I’m grateful to be part of this amazing team of people and to build the brand on the African continent with the team here. Watch this space!