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An eventful (and inspiring) IMEX America

December 10, 2018 | Insights

As business-savvy humans, we know customers come first. But, as event marketers with carefully crafted messages to convey and steep ROI objectives to achieve, what customers want sometimes gets lost in the mix.

This year’s IMEX America presented the perfect opportunity to realign marketing priorities with building customer relationships and creating value.

IMEX is a worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events. It’s also where more than 12,000 event marketers go to connect, gather ideas and find inspiration.
To help bolster those relationships and insights, IMEX asked Six Star to create an Innovation and Experience Lab that would cast aside sales pitches and offer visitors ten event marketing ideas from ten vendors in ten minutes. And Six Star asked us to be part of it.

The opportunity excited us for a number of reasons. In particular, because we had never exhibited at IMEX before. We also never pass up a chance to talk ideas over capabilities or push marketing boundaries.

Taking part in the IMEX Innovation and Experience Lab was incredibly rewarding. And the act of inspiring other event marketers left us inspired, too.

Here’s what we took away from the experience.

1. When you talk with (not at) people you have the right conversation.

The concept behind the Innovation and Experience Lab was part brain trust, part event marketing speed dating. Each of the ten vendors, including us, created spaces with visual takeaways on event marketing.

The intention was for visitors to take a picture of each vendor’s graphic wall and walk away from the experience with ten ideas—and ten new contacts—in their phone. Then, when they returned to work, they could present the ideas gathered to their team as easy as scrolling through their photos.

Because the space was designed like a breakout session, visitors were surprised when they encountered an interactive experience and not a lecture. There were no pitches, no sales scripts and no agendas. Instead, guests were there to learn about us—and we were there to learn about them.

This arrangement sparked meaningful conversations about what visitors were interested in, struggled with or wanted to know more about, allowing them to leave the experience bubbling with valuable insights and budding partnerships.

2. People are naturally curious. Give them a reason to ask questions—and engage

The Innovation and Experience Lab was a new concept for IMEX. Visitors had never seen anything like it, so they came in with a lot of questions. And we turned those questions into engagement.

We used an interactive photo installation to attract attention, encourage curiosity and invite interaction. Four plasma screens displayed the phrase “Eventful,” and within each block letter was an event photo showcasing some of our work.

The message behind the installation was that we do everything event. The installation displayed some of our work while leaving space for the things we haven’t dreamed up yet—opening up more conversations around our event marketing approach.

To demonstrate how guests could incorporate a similar concept at their event, they were invited to snap a pic and upload it into the installation.

And, because the photo experience didn’t include a photographer, the barrier between our team and the guest was removed. Visitors were able to interact with us directly to learn more about the installation and how to contribute to it—breaking the ice and building the foundation for more authentic conversations and engagement.

3. Trying new things pays off.

One of our rules of marketing is “think like your audience and go where they go.” And we found our audience at IMEX America.

Although this was our first time exhibiting at IMEX—it won’t be our last. Visitor excitement was palpable and engagement was off the charts—further proof that when you create new and engaging experiences instead of speeches, your audience will reward you.

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