CEO & Founder of Mayvin Global and BEAMer Deanna Varga shares her experience from her inaugural attendance at IMEX Frankfurt 2023.

IMEX Frankfurt, one of the leading trade shows for the global meetings and events industry, welcomed more than 3,500 global event professionals from agencies, associations, and corporations from 23-25 May 2023.

It was exhilarating, overwhelming, and inspiring all at the same time to witness destinations, venues and suppliers from all corners of the world gathering for business exchanges and networking in gorgeous venues, with delicious food and wine.

Would I return? Absolutely! Would I do things differently? Slightly. I would build on some of the learnings from this time. What helped me most was having a ‘local’ and a few seasoned “IMEXers” giving me pointers.

What I loved/glad I saw/heard:

  • The sound of the ocean – as you walk into IMEX – the trade show hall, it sounds like the ocean! So many voices and chattering. It really does sound like the waves of the ocean.
  • The layout of the entry area to the exhibition floor. You’d think it would be a bottleneck, but it is a great place to get your bearings and meet people, and the map in super-size is fabulous.
  • Food court in Hall 9. Great food trucks with delicious fresh food options and fast-moving queues.
  • She Means Business – I watched and participated in a great “Age Agenda” session with panellists in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 60s. Some great insights from delegates from America, China, the Middle East, and Europe.
  • The supermarket located between Halls 8 and 9 – so handy and what a superb addition.
  • Superb coffee – from the Colombia stand, IHG stand, and the Australia stand. That kept me going.

Top Tips

1. Know your purpose: While it sounds simple, we sometimes forget to set goals or measures of success. Success for me was hearing and learning about what’s happening in the international association market, deepening relationships with a couple of our international clients, finding out about the sustainability agenda for international business events and experiencing IMEX. Did I achieve my goals? Yes!

2. First-Timers Tour: Seek out the first timers’ tours/pre-show webinars. The first-timers tour is usually held on the first morning of the show. The webinar is often held a week or two in advance. The value of the webinar is helping with pre-planning, troubleshooting any issues, and finding out the things you don’t know. My extra tip? Ask the organisers what they feel is the “must do” every year. You can ask all the questions that you feel are dumb or are assumed knowledge. Questions like: why couldn’t I see an appointment schedule or make appointments?

3. Seek out the ‘old timers’: By old timers, I mean seasoned IMEXers. Find two or three people willing to be your go-to that can help navigate the confusion and share tips on what they feel are the best options to meet your goals. I learned about some key programmes such as the Policy Forum, Net Carbon Zero Events Media Briefing and Associations Focus / Association Social. Some of them required pre-registration, pre-qualification and had limited numbers. Finding these out in advance greatly impacted the value of attending.

4. Plan & Reach Out: While it sounds simple, mapping out your international and national contacts is critical in planning. Map out your contacts, clients, and stakeholders that you think will attend and ask them for introductions or meetings.

5. It’s not personal: Some contacts may not respond. Some won’t make appointments or commit. Don’t take it personally – it’s a massive show with so much going on. One of the key reasons I found why I received no response to certain requests was that many of the business appointments aren’t confirmed until a week out, so ‘the new kid on the block’ will be a filler. “Come see us at the stand” is also a common response – so make sure you do.

6. Where are your people? Many exhibitors and buyer groups stay in the same hotel/s. Find out where they are staying and then either stay there or take up opportunities to visit. I chose to stay at NH Messe, which was well-priced and within easy walking distance of the Messe Frankfurt. Don’t forget there can be good business/relationship-building opportunities during breakfast, elevator trips and waiting in the lobby for your transport.

7. The Right Registration – I initially registered as a visitor supplier, thinking I was not a meeting planner, so I didn’t want to register as a visitor buyer. The challenge here was that no one could set up appointments with me or me with them. IMEX kindly changed me over to Visitor Buyer to rectify this. But be aware the appointment scheduling closes on Monday at 6 pm before the trade show floor opens.


Deanna is a specialist in the business events, tourism and cultural sectors and works with associations on revenue generation and diversification. Deanna is based in Australia and her opinion is based on a self-funded trip to IMEX Frankfurt with her company Mayvin Global.

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Deanna Varga

Author Deanna Varga

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