IMEX America trade show leaving Sands for Mandalay Bay

Updated September 14, 2017 - 12:42 pm

IMEX America, a 6-year-old international trade show for buyers in the meetings and exhibition industry, will leave its longtime home at the Sands Expo and Convention Center.

But it will stay in Las Vegas and relocate to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in 2021.

The event, which has been a Sands Expo and Convention Center staple since 2011, outgrew the amount of space available to it during the time that show organizers wanted the show scheduled.

IMEX has annually brought more than 2,000 buyers to Las Vegas in early October — a prime time for meetings and convention business. Sands also hosts the growing Global Gaming Expo in October. This year’s IMEX America is Oct. 10-12, opening four days after the world’s largest gaming industry trade show concludes.

To accommodate both shows, IMEX was shifted to mid-October in 2018 and mid-September at Sands in 2019 and 2020. When the show debuts at Mandalay Bay in 2021, it will take a Nov. 9-11 time slot before moving back to October for 2022, 2023 and 2024.

Scheduling venue space is a common problem for the city’s major convention centers because of how calendar dates fall from year to year and because some major shows rotate between cities. Meeting planners also have to account for big conventions like the ConExpo-Con/Agg construction equipment show that meets every three years and MINExpo, the National Mining Association’s gathering that occurs every four years.

In addition to show dates, convention planners have to account for weeks of setup and several days of exhibit removal after a show ends.

The need for additional space to accommodate more show dates was one of the motivations behind the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s decision to spend $1.4 billion to expand and renovate the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Ray Bloom, chairman of the IMEX Group, announced the move to Mandalay Bay so that groups that schedule their own events around IMEX America could plan.

“We know that our industry partners from across North America and around the world plan numerous activities and co-located events around IMEX America,” Bloom said. “In addition, the fall is a very busy period for the industry. As a result, we felt that it was important to give the industry as much notice as possible with regards to our dates and venues going forward to assist with their own planning.”

A spokesman for Sands said the company is happy IMEX decided to stay in Las Vegas, even if it meant losing the business to a competitor.

“Our biggest concern was that Las Vegas would lose it,” said Keith Salwoski, executive director for public relations at The Venetian and Palazzo. “We’re pleased that it will still be here.”

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., which operates the Sands Expo and Convention Center, The Venetian and Palazzo.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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