Carina Bauer on Growth, Change, and the Power of Meetings

Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group sat down with MeetingsNet at the show in Las Vegas for a conversation that touched on exhibitor trends, the show’s move to Mandalay Bay, and her support for #VegasStrong.

Many will crow about having the busiest schedule at IMEX America, but a clear contender for the title is Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group. Between a packed schedule of meetings with exhibitors, attendees, and her operations team, Bauer sat down with MeetingsNet at the show in Las Vegas for a conversation that touched on exhibitor trends, the show’s move to Mandalay Bay, and her support for #VegasStrong. 

On the power of meetings:

“The message we have this week, which everyone is displaying by being here, is that you have to show your support for destinations by showing up and taking business to them. That’s what it’s about.

“There are a lot of destinations that are suffering for various reasons, natural disasters as well, so we want to give the message encouraging the industry to give its support to all that need us at the moment. This industry can pull a destination into recovery.”

On the growth of the IMEX brand:

“We’re not looking to open lots of IMEX shows. That’s not our goal at the moment. We’re always looking to grow and develop the shows we have in Frankfurt and here in Las Vegas. We’re lucky that next year we’re able to take another hall here.

“For us it’s not just about growth for growth’s sake. We want to make sure the show is always helping to bring the industry together but also showcasing the best of the industry, the newest ideas, whether that be in education or the show experience. It’s about innovating and being ahead of the trends. We don’t want to just keep up with them, we want to be ahead of them and help people to see beyond what they’re doing today. At the end of the day, what we deliver is a marketplace for the industry and we never lose sight of that. 

On exhibitor trends:

“This year we’ve had some good growth from hotels, but it’s already a very mature sector of this show. We’ve had some significant growth percentage-wise from Africa and the Middle East—but I want to qualify that because it’s a smaller segment of the show. We’ve got Abu Dhabi and Rwanda here for the first time. Just having two big new destinations like that really impacts a segment. We’ve also seen an increase in the cruise line sector and products. We’re very careful and cautious with products to make sure that they fit our industry; we don’t want a product show for the sake of it. And then there’s technology. Every year technology grows. It’s great to see the maturing of that marketplace. If I think back to 2003 and 2004 [at our shows] in Frankfurt, there were hardly any technology companies.”

On the show’s move to Mandalay Bay in 2021:

“We continue to have a fantastic experience at the Sands, but we’ve got a very compressed move in here. We felt it was the best thing for the industry to have longer to move in. It lowers the cost for our exhibitors and the stand constructors and everyone who’s involved in the buildup of the show.

“Next year, we’ll have more space here at the Sands and we’ll have a little bit more than that at Mandalay Bay, so it gives us a lot of flexibility….We’re excited to work with a new team. I know MGM is excited and I know they’ll bring a lot to the party as well.”


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