Hosted Buyers provides oodles of perks

The Hosted Buyers program, one of the staples of IMEX America, provides qualified meeting planners with VIP treatment before, during and after the show.

IMEX America 2018 featured 3,327 hosted buyers from 63 countries, with 65 percent having budgets ranging from $1 million to $10 million. Most of them (70 percent) were from the United States, followed by Canada (4.5 percent) Brazil (3.5 percent), Mexico (3 percent) and the United Kingdom (3 percent). Fifty-eight percent were agency planners, followed by corporate (24 percent), association (10 percent) and independent (8 percent).

Hosted buyers receive many perks, including the following.

Cost: Free flights from within the United States as well as long-haul flights for planners who are coming as part of a hosted buyer group. Planners also receive free accommodations and the knowledge that IMEX Group takes care of the logistics.
Hosted Buyers Lounge: A dedicated space—hosted by IMEX Group’s hosted buyer team—for planners to catch their breath, check emails and grab a coffee.

Opportunities to connect: Planners can connect with their peers at special events and hosted dinners, building powerful relationships while having the time of their lives.

Freedom: Hosted buyers are in charge of their schedule at the show. IMEX Group recommends eight appointments per day—and that they leave time for learning, networking and browsing.

Participating planners need to meet IMEX Group’s qualifying criteria of regularly planning or commissioning large-scale events around the world. New hosted buyers at the 2019 event include Belmond Hotels, CSI DMC, Beyond Limits (U.S. and Latin American group), Body & Soul (U.S. and Latin American group), CWT M&E and Auberge Resorts.

Ray Bloom, founder and president of IMEX Group, explained the evolution of the Hosted Buyers program.

“As the exhibitor numbers have increased, we have always been focused on ensuring that hosted buyer numbers have increased at a similar rate,” he says. “Just as important, we focus strongly on quality of buyer and ensuring that hosted buyers have significant business to place with exhibitors. As an example, as the U.S. section of the show has expanded, we’ve increased the number of buyers attending to ‘buy the U.S.’—both from North America and around the world.”

The program has changed in response to buyers’ feedback.

“This has led to us introduce more flexibility into the program in terms of commitment to appointments and enabling buyers to take advantage of the vast array of educational and networking opportunities,” Bloom says. “We’ve also adapted the appointment system, enabling buyers to submit RFPs to exhibitors in advance of the show, leading to more effective discussions on-site.”

How the Program Works

  • Some 300 of the exhibitors at IMEX America invite key clients to come to the event as hosted buyers (these exhibitors are called “intermediaries”). A planner who receives an invitation from one of them—and who wants to be a hosted buyer—then fills out an online application form.
  • Once the exhibitor that invited the planner has checked the form, IMEX Group verifies and approves it—and sends the planner a welcome email with IMEX’s website login.
  • If the application doesn’t meet the qualifying criteria, IMEX Group invites the planner to register as a buyer attendee.

Planners can also apply directly for the program, without being invited to do so by an exhibitor. All agency or corporate buyers must provide information about 1) three events they organized in the last 18 months or 2) two events they organized in the last 18 months plus one event they will be organizing in the next 12 months.

Association buyers must provide information concerning 1) three events they organized in the last three years or 2) two events they organized in the last three years plus one event they will be organizing in the next three years.