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by Pádraic Gilligan, Managing Partner, SoolNua

Exclusively Corporate at IMEX

@Supergreybeard and I worked with our friends at IMEX on the previous 4 editions of Exclusively Corporate at IMEX and are now actively involved in the planning of the 5th anniversary edition, due to take place in Frankfurt on 14 – 16 May 2017. Hosted at Villa Kennedy, Rocco Forte’s rather delectable property in Frankfurt, the programme is an education and networking event for in-house corporate planners by in-house corporate planners. We work with the IMEX team on the strategy and marketing of the event and then, on the day, we don the black suits and MC the event, Ant and Dec style.

It’s an extraordinary event overall, charged with a level of vibrancy, energy and dynamism often conspicuous at corporate meetings and events by its absence! It’s the magic that’s unleashed when people come together and realise they have a lot in common; when they make the surprising, unexpected discovery that there’s a whole community of men and women out there doing the same job as them; when they finally see that they are not alone!

If you work for a commercial operation, company or firm and your job includes organising meetings and events then here are 5 things you’ll learn at Exclusively Corporate at IMEX:

You’re a spinning plate juggler

It’s not just you. Most folks who organise meetings and events in organisations have other stuff that they have to do too. So they’re managing the registration process, confirming room uptake with hotels, agreeing on menus, selecting wines, choosing entertainment options, balancing budgets, taking sales calls from suppliers, reporting to senior management (who, BTW,  have no clue about meetings!) while also signing off on the next marketing campaign or sitting in on interviews for the new intern or checking the SEO reports for the past quarter. Working in a company as part of the team that also does meetings and events is akin to being a spinning plate juggler. You need to be sure footed and nimble and have eyes in the back of your head to keep all those plates on the go – but you’re not the only one who does this!

There’s a whole industry out there

Many of the participants at Exclusively Corporate are amazed to discover that there’s a whole world of meetings and events out there! When you’re in the splendid isolation of your cubicle on the 8th floor of corporate HQ it’s hard to imagine that the small meeting you’re planning is part of a grander scheme that contributes almost $300 billion annually to the US economy. At IMEX participants get plugged into a vast community of professionals whose livelihoods pivot around meetings and events – destination marketing experts, hoteliers, venue owners, food and beverage guys, technology start-ups,  AV and production experts. They learn about the true value of meetings and events but also about their own value as organisers of meetings and events in a firm or corporation.


There’s an exciting career path

Participants at Exclusively Corporate span the entire spectrum from novice to senior with titles ranging from Meetings and Events Assistant to Director of Strategic Live Communications. The role of the meetings and events person has been evolving over the past 3 decades beyond mere arrangements and logistics into vision and strategy. Increasingly CEO’s are publically acknowledging the vital contribution of live meetings and events to brand equity and the meeting executive has graduated from event planner to event marketer, moving above the line from execution to strategy. At Exclusively Corporate novice planners sit shoulder to shoulder with senior marketers and thus start to see the exciting career path that lies ahead of them.


Others have probably solved the problem you’re now facing

Participants at Exclusively Corporate also learn that the problems or challenges they’re facing today have been solved by others yesterday. So there’s no need to re-invent the wheel! The education sessions at Exclusively Corporate are delivered by practising in-house planners who address such topics as hot destinations for meetings, safety and security, event technology, cross cultural challenges, managing global teams, negotiating with hotels, delivering ROI from events. The intimate setting – participation is capped at around 100 in-house planners – and the use of, an exciting audience engagement platform, ensures that everyone gets involved, asking questions and partaking in table discussions. The networking opportunities on Sunday and throughout Monday’s programme turn strangers into friends who have now met and ensure that everyone is part of a Whatsapp group to rely on for professional advice in the 12 months ahead.

You’ll fall in love with IMEX!

Finally, participants at Exclusively Corporate discover IMEX, the landmark exhibition for professionals working within the incentive travel, meetings and events industry. Industry insiders  may find it hard to believe but many in-house planners have never heard of the show. Every year at Exclusively Corporate we talk with participants who’ve been organising and operating meetings and events for years but have never been at a trade show. They source suppliers through in-house procurement processes and maybe use Cvent to source and book hotels but they’re unaware that such a thing as IMEX exists. When they encounter the breadth and beauty of IMEX – from the Politicians Forum to the #IMEXrun, from technology to sustainability, from locations like Las Vegas to places like Pretoria – they’re amazed and genuinely excited to be part of such an event.

Applications are now being considered for Exclusively Corporate at IMEX 2017. You can get more information on the website and make contact with Donna Fung who’ll talk you through the application process. If you qualify, IMEX will cover all the costs of your attendance including flights, accommodation and registration for the programme.

Can you afford to miss it?

Pádraic Gilligan, Patrick Delaney and Aoife McCrum run SoolNua, a specialist agency working with destinations, hotels and venues on strategy, marketing and training for the meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE) market. 



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