IMEX 2018 Recap
Anju, Renata, and Kathleen arrived in Vegas on Tuesday, October 16th, and hit the ground running. Renata and Kathleen checked into the MGM Grand (we were hosted by MGM Grand Detroit, so we received our rooms complimentary and received a refund of $450 each toward our flights—thanks MGM Grand!).
After check-in we headed straight to the Sands Expo Center for the show. Since we already received our name badges in the mail, the registration process was a breeze. We just walked past the registration desk and headed up to the main expo center where our badge was scanned, and we gained entry.
The Sands Expo Hall was overwhelming at first glance. With over half-a-million square feet of expo space occupied, there was no shortage of vendors to meet with. Present at IMEX were vendors such as hotels; DMCs (Destination Management Company); CVBs (Convention & Visitors Bureau); audio/visual companies; technology companies (such as event management companies like CVENT and Eventbrite); and vendors offering event services such as live painting, digital caricatures, and more!
One of the main goals of IMEX was to meet with some suppliers with whom we have trips operating with (Costa Rica, Aruba, Scotland/Ireland, Phoenix, Dallas) and review any outstanding details of the trips.
Another major goal of IMEX was to meet with destinations to which we have not yet operated a trip to learn more about the location and potentially sell to a client for a future trip. Some of these destinations included: Belgium, Germany, Poland, Italy, Cuba, Seattle, Santa Barbara, Napa Valley, and Cincinnati.
Between all the scheduled appointments on Tuesday - Thursday, we also participated in expanded networking opportunities while enjoying a happy hour at booths like Phoenix and Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.
On Tuesday night, after leaving the expo, we all went back to MGM for some much-needed pampering. Our hosts (MGM Grand) allowed their hosted buyers access to The Mansion. This is an exclusive area of the property which is only accessible to those who are invited (think celebs and high rollers). We were able to indulge in services including: chair massages, hand/arm massages, getting our makeup refreshed, and getting our hair done. We were able to experience all of these services and felt a little more relaxed and refreshed after a long day of travel and meetings. We ended the night with a team dinner on the terrace of Spago where witnessed the infamous fountain show of The Bellagio up close!
After leaving the expo on Wednesday night, Anju had dinner with the Hilton Aruba team before attending a great performance from Lionel Richie!
Renata and Kathleen were invited to have dinner at Costa Di Mare (at the Wynn Hotel) by Rocco Forte Hotels, which is a collection of 11 luxury hotels located throughout Europe and Saudi Arabia. We met with both global and regional sales reps while enjoying a fine-dining experience unlike any other.
On Thursday, Anju headed back to Xplor HQ in the early morning, while Kathleen and Renata returned to the show for a few more appointments before heading to the airport for the return flight home.
Overall the experience was extremely informative and engaging. While on site we kept finding ourselves passing by booths that were so visually appealing that we couldn’t help but wander in – even if we didn’t have an appointment. For example, the people in the Thailand booth were dressed so beautifully in their traditional outfits that it drew us in. Once there, we had the opportunity to learn how to write our names in Thai, and then have it hand-painted on a personalized passport holder. This was a truly unique experience!
There were so many people to see and things to learn that we left wanting more time. It was great to be able to put faces to the names of people of whom we have been in contact with over email. It really helped to strengthen those relationships, and in some cases helped to determine which vendor we would prefer to work with.
We’re excited to have all this newfound knowledge and ready to propose some great new destinations to our clients – both domestic and international. Now the only question is, where in the world will we go next?!