Industry Update
Press Release12 March 2020

IMEX Frankfurt Cancelled

Organizers of the meetings industry trade show based the decision on uncertainty caused by German government and "the responsibility we feel towards our exhibitors and partners."

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IMEX Frankfurt

IMEX Frankfurt, the largest annual trade exhibition for the meetings, conventions, events and incentive travel industry, has been cancelled, following German federal and state advisories to cancel large events due to the coronavirus outbreak. The event was scheduled to take place May 12-14 in Frankfurt, Germany.

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The move comes three days after German Health Minister Jens Spahn called on organizers of events larger than 1,000 people to cancel them. "Consider also what in your daily life is so important that you can't do without it for the next three months, whether that's an evening clubbing, a family birthday or a club meeting," Spahn tweeted.

The annual event attracted 3,500 exhibitors from 172 countries and about 7,800 visitors and hosted buyers last year; the program also included more than 250 education sessions.

At press time, the organizer's sister show, IMEX America, remains scheduled to take place Sept. 15-17, 2020, at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas.

Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group, and Ray Bloom, chairman of IMEX Group, released the following statement this morning:

It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we announce the cancellation of this year's IMEX in Frankfurt (due to take place May 12-14).

We know that this will come as an enormous disappointment, not only to the exhibitors, buyers and industry professionals who were due to attend the show, but also to the global business events community.

This is not a decision we have taken lightly and there are two overriding concerns that have caused us to make this decision at this time.

First is the uncertainty caused by the fact that the German health minister has recently called for the ban on events with over 1,000 people, which some German states have already endorsed, including the state of Hesse where Frankfurt is located. This announcement makes the probability of factors outside our control forcing us to cancel the show at the last minute much higher.

Second, our primary concern is always the responsibility we feel towards our exhibitors and partners, who fund the show - not only by purchasing stand space but also in the considerable additional investment they make in everything from the build of stunning stands to the hosting of buyer events.

Whilst only a short time ago we felt optimistic that May was far enough away to confidently proceed with our plans, as it stands today [March 11] we cannot guarantee the one thing that our exhibitors trust us above all else to deliver - namely a large-scale, high-quality hosted-buyer program.

In an ideal world we would wait and see. But we are in the real world and we cannot, in all good conscience, ask our exhibitors to continue to invest money against which they may not get a return.

Both of these factors - uncertainty around whether IMEX will be allowed to proceed, as well as doubts as to the number of buyers who will be able to attend - have led us to the conclusion that we now have no option but to cancel IMEX in Frankfurt.

A Decision Based on Facts

We want to make it very clear that we have made this decision based purely on the facts as we know them today and, importantly for the whole IMEX team, based on the responsibility and genuine care we feel for all our clients and the global business events community.

IMEX is our family business and the business events community is the only community we serve.

We have tried today to take the best decision for the industry and we are so thankful for the support that has already been shown to us. Quite rightly many of you see yourselves as friends and members of the extended IMEX family. This is precisely why we've thought long and hard in the past few days, consulting in depth with partners and stakeholders across the industry before making this announcement. Our strapline, "We Are All Connected," has never felt more true, nor more important.

Committed to Serving the Industry

Despite the disappointment and impact we know you will feel, we want you to know that we're fully committed to serving this industry that we love. We're already working hard in the background to deliver value and service above and beyond the trade show you were looking forward to and will announce these plans in the near future.

We intend to keep morale high and, together with leaders around the world, to focus on collective efforts to rebuild confidence and advocate for the power of business events to aid economic recovery once this situation is over.

The IMEX team will also be working hard to deliver a successful IMEX America (Sept. 15-17) with plans to recognize the 10th Anniversary of the show already in full swing. We hope that the business events world will join us in Las Vegas to celebrate our great industry.

Once again, we thank the whole industry for the support that has been shown to us and we are here to support others in the industry as we all work through these difficult times.

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