Hope abounds still: IMEX will return stronger. Credit: IMEX
FRANKFURT - IMEX has been cancelled this year but what makes the cancellation of the event so unique is that IMEX group chairman, Mr Ray Bloom, and Ms Carina Bauer, CEO, IMEX group, have managed to encapsulate the emotions and thoughts of many industry players in a personal note to their supporters.
"It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we announce the cancellation of this year's IMEX in Frankfurt (due to take place 12-14 May). 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 [11 March] we cannot guarantee the one thing that our exhibitors trust us above all else to deliver - namely a large-scale, high quality hosted buyer programme.
"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 (15-17 September) with plans to recognise 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."
Several industry leaders responded to these comments, among whom was Mr Kai Hattendorf, UFI MD/ CEO and president of Joint Meetings Industry Council.
He said: "It is, of course, deeply regrettable that the IMEX team has to cancel their flagship trade show in Frankfurt this May. However, I want everyone in the business events and exhibition industry to know on behalf of JMIC that we fully understand and support the difficult decision that Carina and Ray have had to make.
"Market places and meeting places are the core driver of business. For our industry to bounce back from the corona slump, our own market places and meeting places will as well be our fastest fast track to recovery. We are a resilient industry. We have shown that in the past, we will show that again. We are all in this together."