by Lisa A. Grimaldi | May 15, 2018
IMEX 2018, the annual meetings, incentive and business travel trade show, started today in the German city. The sixteenth IMEX Frankfurt features 3,500 exhibitors from more than 150 countries. Participating this year are 30 first-time exhibitors, including the Russian Convention Bureau, the Uganda Ministry of Tourism and the Lebanon Ministry of Tourism. IMEX CEO Carina Bauer told M&C that about 4,000 hosted buyers and 4,500 visitors are expected, though final numbers won't be available until the show closes Thursday evening.
During the opening ceremony, keynote speaker Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council, told the audience that the industry faces three critical challenges: sustainability, crisis management and security/travel facilitation. For the latter, Guevara said, "Biometrics may be the answer to move people faster and give them a better experience." 
Two highlights of the the 250 educational offerings are being presented by C2 International, which launched a three-year partnership with IMEX this year: the Sky Lab, above, which suspends participants mid-air; and the Dark Lab, a blacked-out meeting space. Several other sessions will focus on "legacy," the IMEX 2018 talking point. In an interview with M&C, Bauer described legacy as the impact an event has on the organization, its participants and even the destination where an event is held.
EduMonday, yesterday's full day of pre-show educational offerings, included She Means Business, which focused on women in the meetings industry. Bauer said she was inspired to launch the women's forum after attending one held by the International Association of Exhibitions & Events. Other EduMonday offerings were Exclusively Corporate, a track for high-level corporate planners; Association Day, and the PCMA Business School.