Saturday, 26 May 2012

9 Sustainable Exhibit Trends at IMEX 2012

Held last week in Frankfurt, Germany, IMEX 2012 provided some great examples of how tradeshow exhibitors are integrating sustainability into their activities. Following are a few of the ways some IMEX exhibitors are leading the way!

1. Sustainability Hub

In partnership with the Green Meeting Industry Council, IMEX provides a Sustainability Hub for exhibitors and hosted buyers to meet and share information about sustainability. Equipped with both a campfire discussion space and a small presentation theatre, The Hub is a great way for exhibitors to share their sustainability stories.

2. Green Exhibitor Award program

In its 10th year, IMEX has been rewarding exhibitors who reduce the impact of their booths with a Green Exhibitor Award. Here booth jury members Amy Spatrisano and Amanda Ulbrich interview Award finalist Congress Allianz.

3. Sustainability-minded giveaways

Destination exhibitors are providing thoughtful, more sustainable giveaways at IMEX. Green Exhibit Award winner Stuttgart Convention Bureau prepared a goody bag of consumable products produced locally in their region, including fruit tea, sweets, and cosmetics. The Estoril Congress Centre opted to provide mouse pads at the Sustainability Hub, manufactured from renewable Portuguese cork.

4. Integrated technology

As meetings move to embrace technology, so do trade show booths. Consider the SpotMe booth, which turned away traditional framing, flooring and panels to make their interactive booth out of approximately 250 iPads. Of course the question of which has the greatest footprint - traditional booths or high-tech approaches like this - remains. Still, the ability to rent and reuse technology for a multitude of interactive purposes as an alternative to disposable vinyl and adhesive display components deserves some attention.

5. Sponsored CSR projects

Slovenia played up their role as the site of the 2012 IMEX Challenge. The Challenge is a biennial humanitarian event at which a team of meeting industry professionals gather in order to make a positive impact on the lives of others - particularly children - in the chosen host destination.This year's challenge will involve 15 meeting professionals in establishing a bee-keeping colony at the Occupation and Care Centre in Draga, Slovenia.

6. Generic, non-dated signage

Many destinations at IMEX attend multiple travel tradeshows. The use of generic, non-dated signage is not only a way to enhance reuse potential, but also reduce marketing costs. These kinds of savings have to be balanced with costs and impacts associated with transportation and storage of booth materials. Still, the waste and carbon footprint of making a new disposable booth for each event is arguably far larger than designing reusable graphics with roadshows in mind.

7. Sustainable accent furnishings

Sculptured table-top displays and meeting tables made from recycled cardboard were featured at the Visit Finland booth. Many exhibits also took advantage of live or artificial, reusable plants.

8. Renewable & natural materials

While plastics and metals are commonplace in booth construction, many exhibits are going back to old fashioned wood and natural fibres, like cotton. The Switzerland booth highlighted natural textures and materials. Many other booths may not have used these kinds of materials, but nature-based, green imagery was very prevalent throughout the trade-show.

9. Carbon accountability

The carbon footprint of travel and tourism is huge, with logistics, shipping and air transportation related to tradeshows particularly to blame. In light of this, credit must be given to destinations like Colombia who disclose the carbon footprint of their booth and use it as an engagement strategy for attendees. IMEX participants were invited to name and plant a tree to help offset the unavoidable impacts of Columbia's participation in the show.

What trends in sustainable exhibiting did you notice at the last tradeshow you attended?

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