Australia ‘more popular than ever’ at IMEX America

IMEX America returned to Las Vegas in October with attendance close to pre-pandemic levels. Joining the Tourism Australia stand was Arinex’ Senior Account Manager of Incentive and Special Events, Leonie Ferris-Tonge. We caught up with Leonie to find out what she thought of the tradeshow.

Q. IMEX America 2022 attracted 12,000 attendees – very close to pre-pandemic levels. What were your overall impressions of the event and the attitudes of buyers and exhibitors? 

From the moment I landed onsite, the buzz was all around with people reconnecting after so many years, along with the general excitement of being in Vegas. This was despite the low Aussie dollar that was bleeding us dry with our $8 below par coffees! There was so much confidence about getting back to normal and connecting again. People didn’t want to talk about COVID; the general vibe was ‘lets get back to work, lets travel’.

Q2: How would you sum up the sentiment towards Australia as an events destination, particularly in your specialty area of incentives and special events?

More popular than ever. I had more appointments this year than we have ever had and I think the interest comes from people having come through the restrictions of the last three years and being ready to not only travel but to get out of their comfort zone and travel far and wide. Australia has always been so far away for people from the Northern Hemisphere but now that is seen as a positive as people are ready to branch out and get back to travelling the world and experience destinations they have not been able to get to. That also goes for New Zealand and Fiji. The definition of an Incentive has always been to tick off a bucket list destination and now is the time!

Q3: What were the highlights of IMEX for you?

The travel was a highlight as I was awake for 33 hours to get there and it has been a while since any of us could do that… But I would have to say just experiencing the excitement of our industry coming alive once more. Seeing so many Australian and New Zealand colleagues in one space working together, walking around the exhibition and looking at all the wonderful destinations promoting travel and events was inspiring. There is clearly positive aspirations and foresight for our industry after the hardest few years we have ever gone through. And let’s be honest, you never experience anything quite like Vegas baby, so that alone was a highlight,