Q.How long has CSR been a component of IMEX?
A.It’s one of those projects or initiatives that we’ve been doing for many years, and
it takes time to get traction, because people of
course aren’t coming for that reason — they’re
coming to the show for business reasons. But
what we find over time is that people do feel
that it’s a very important element of the show, a
representation of our values as a company, that we
have a positive impact in the destination where
we’re located. And it also offers many different
benefits for attendees when they take part. It’s
taken us a while to work out the best way to
incorporate CSR activities into the show, but
certainly at IMEX America in particular, we’ve
found some really fantastic partners through the
industry and locally.
Q.Are you seeing more interest in CSR?
A. Definitely. It’s a steady increase, and also
in terms of the suppliers who are increasingly
interested in supporting CSR activities, and
finding a way to showcase the CSR that they also
have within their companies and corporations.
This year for example, Costa Rica is sponsoring
our hands-on community activity Garbage
Grabbers: Clean Up Las Vegas at Sunset Park.
Q.What are some of the benefits for participants?
A.There are so many added benefits when you take part in the CSR programs, because
you get away for a little bit and make connections
in a different way and network, but by doing
something that’s really going to be beneficial to
the local area as well.
Q.How is CSR different at IMEX America compared to your
event in Europe?
A.It’s very different, because of the different partners involved. In Las Vegas, we have
Shade Tree and Opportunity Village, which
are our core charities. We have similar charities
in Frankfurt that we’re able to support, and
we obviously do different things with them. In
Frankfurt we support a homeless shelter, so we’ve
done things like getting attendees to prepare a
lunch for them with chefs from the local Sheraton
hotel, whereas with the Shade Tree we did their
garden and installed recycling bins for them and
things like that.
In Las Vegas we’re also able to do Clean The
World [CTW], which is a fantastic project that
we love. We don’t have anything like that in
Frankfurt at this stage, because that project isn’t
operating in Frankfurt. I love Clean the World
because it allows people who only have a short
amount of time to still take part, because we have
stations on the show floor where people can pack
up the CTW bags with all the products, so even
if they only have five minutes, they can do four
or five packs. That’s an element that we have at
IMEX America that we’d love to incorporate into
the Frankfurt show.
Q.What’s new at IMEX America from a CSR
A.The new thing we’re doing this year is called Garbage Grabbers, and it’s going to take
place on Smart Monday during the afternoon, so
people can still get some education in the morning
and if they’d like they can come out of the city, a
bit off the strip, in the afternoon. We’re going to
be working with an organization that clears up
trash from nature trails and local parks. We’ll be
out in nature, which will be really nice for people.
The other thing we introduced last year and we’ll
be doing again this year is Waterwise Wednesday,
where we look at our water consumption and
make changes to some of the products we
have at the show and try to reduce the water
consumption. For example, last year, instead of
serving beef burgers at the catering concession, we
served turkey burgers, which use about a third of
the amount of water as a beef burger. We work
with our sustainability consultants and the venue
to try to put in place those practices that will
make an impact.
Q.What have you learned about the best ways to
A.It’s about having different types of activities melded into the show, so that there’s
something there for everybody and they can take
part. And people do feel good to contribute in
that way, even when it’s a small amount.
A couple of years ago, we had a big CSR project,
the IMEX Challenge, where some volunteers
came in on the weekend prior to the show and
spent half a day at the Shade Tree. We actually
redid the garden at the Shade Tree. It was an
amazing project. Obviously, that kind of activity
is a much bigger commitment for people. What
we’ve learned is that, if we can do activities that fit
into the day, it’s more realistic for more people to
Q.What’s your overall message to attendees
about why they should participate
in CSR activities?
A.The key message would be that you’ll be surprised at how much it adds to your
experience at the event. Taking part is more than
doing a good deed. It’s also making sure that you
have a rounded experience at the show. It’s a softer
way for people to network and meet each other
CSR TRENDS AT IMEX AMERICA
THE TERM “CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY” (CSR)
is used with increasing frequency in the world of meetings and
incentives, and with good reason. Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX,
shared her insight about what it means for IMEX Americas, and
the benefits that CSR provides for participants.