No More Looking Back
I just returned from IMEX America in Las Vegas, which set a new record as the largest IMEX ever. Nearly half of the exhibitors had increased their booth sizes and the show floor was packed, with 15,000 attendees.
What was most striking to me was—unlike last year—how little I heard people speak of the pandemic or compare their business or activity to 2019. In most cases, everyone was back on track and busier than ever. Finally, our industry has stopped looking back and is focused on what lies ahead.
Companies that had restricted their incentives to domestic cities were busy making appointments to go international. At a meeting with Prevue's Advisors, held the day before the show, our group coined the phrase "the year of Europe" to describe 2023. There was much optimism from long-haul destinations like Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Macau, which has just opened up, was planning a familiarization trip to re-introduce itself to buyers.
Two annual research reports were showcased at IMEX, the American Express GBT Meetings and Events Forecast, which reported that all meeting types are expected to grow in 2024, and the Incentive Travel Index, which predicted growth in both the number of people participating in incentive trips and the per-person spend.
I was also excited to see the attention the show gave to mental health and the needs of neurodiverse attendees. There was even a Resilience Room, a calming retreat from sensory overwhelm. That focus on attendees as unique humans could be one of the most significant impacts of the pandemic—it put us back in touch with our humanity.
IMEX is where the meetings industry turns for ideas and innovation, and that's also the theme of this issue of Prevue. In fact, in the Meaningful Outcomes article, sr. contributing editor Regina Baraban writes about innovative experiences around the world. Whether it's Canada's forward-thinking sustainability initiatives or Dallas' top-notch culinary scene, the destinations featured in the article offer opportunities for meaningful, immersive and innovative groups events and activities.
This last issue of 2023 also features the winners of Prevue's annual Visionary Awards, an article on how inclusivity is a top priority for Florida tourism officials and first-hand reviews of Guanajuato, Opal Sands Resort & Spa Vienna, and the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach hotel.
Enjoy the issue. —Barbara Scofidio