This year’s IMEX might have been hot and sweaty but our Events Team certainly got the most out of their trip to Frankfurt. Gillian Kretzschmar shares her thoughts on the good, the bad and the not so interesting.
Whilst the pre-scheduled meetings mostly worked well (except when they didn’t of course!), I found the side effect of everyone having a schedule is that suppliers often seemed to regard the non-scheduled time as their own private time. Very few exhibitors actively approached and engaged you. Hosted buyers are clearly visible and are fair game. I was happy to talk to most people and pleased to be approached, so good on those exhibitors that gave it their best shot because many didn’t. It was sometimes really difficult to ‘catch’ a supplier’s eye for an ad hoc chat as they were either catching up on emails, on the phone or more often than not having a chinwag with their fellow hoteliers / DMCs / exhibitors on the same country stand. I must say the Southern Europeans were particularly guilty of this. So hats off to the Dutch for getting off their stand and engaging passing ‘traffic’ very affably. They were one of the very few that really ‘sold’ their product. Some of the East European exhibitors were particularly inactive. At best they managed to offer a brochure and at worst looked positively petrified to be asked why we should consider sending our next group to their destination.
I did have some valuable and interesting meetings but I must say some of the obligatory group presentations were nothing short of appalling – lacklustre, uninspiring, uninformative and patronising. What a wasted opportunity! To be plonked in front of a piece of tourist board footage or to be dragged through a dull PowerPoint whilst a script is read aloud is no way to promote a destination. In fact, in some instances it has quite the opposite effect!
I stayed at the very impressive new Hilton Frankfurt Airport which only opened in December. It is a megalithic affair – all glass and metal and a monumental atrium. It is in the bizarrely named new Squaire complex (office, cafes, shops) located above the airport railway station. The Squaire is not a typo and is also not very ‘grown’ yet, so feels very soulless, although KPMG and Lufthansa are about to move in which might liven things up. Very much appreciated the hotel laying on chauffeured transfers to and from the showground on demand – nice touch! The hotel has 249 business-like bedrooms and 11 meetings rooms including the ballroom which is a kind of silver foil covered box at one end of the monster atrium – very designery.