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IMEX in Frankfurt 2012 Wild Card winners announced as Sendai and El Salvador – initiative supported by fresh help from GainingEdge

IMEX in Frankfurt 2012 Wild Card winners announced as Sendai and El Salvador – initiative supported by fresh help from GainingEdge ( Sendai in Japan and El Salvador in Central America have both been selected as winners of the IMEX in Frankfurt Wild Card competition for 2012 - the show’s 10th anniversary year.

The IMEX Wild Card program offers aspiring entrants into the international meetings market the chance to exhibit free of charge alongside established destinations and other participants. In a change from the usual, this year’s winners will also benefit from a brand new support package, provided by specialist business events consultancy, GainingEdge. The company has committed to providing each winner with advice on prescheduled appointments, detailed sales training, press release training, and a review of marketing collateral, as well as advice on how to maximize trade show participation plus other business-critical tips. (GainingEdge will also be supporting the winners of IMEX America’s Wild Card Americas program in October).

To be eligible for a free place, Wild Card entrants are required to justify their potential as a meetings and incentive travel destination or a new convention and conference center. They are also expected to demonstrate sufficient infrastructure and skill to support their ambition to flourish within the global meetings or incentive travel market.

In addition to their free exhibition place on the tailor-made IMEX Wild Card Pavilion, winners receive free accommodation, as well as a complimentary ticket to the show’s Gala Dinner.

Previous Wild Card winners over the years have included Armenia, Western Siberia, the Hof Cultural Center in Iceland, The Cook Islands, and Senegal.


Following the devastation of the Japanese earthquake in March 2011, efforts are now being made to help Sendai demonstrate that it is a safe meetings location that is fully open for business. Buyers at IMEX in Frankfurt will have a first-hand opportunity to discover more about the region and hear the latest updates regarding meetings and events being held there.

Located on the east coast of Japan, Sendai is popularly described as “Mori no Miyako” or “City of Trees” due to its beautiful natural surroundings and tree-lined streets. Sendai offers a wide variety of accommodation to suit the needs of meeting planners and the city is also home to the Sendai International Center – a dedicated meetings venue located on a historic site. It also has a rich array of historic temples and shrines.


The Central American nation of El Salvador is the smallest on the mainland of North or South America. Although the International Fair and Convention Center of El Salvador (CIFCO) has been in the events industry for 46 years and has hosted a number of national and international events, the destination of El Salvador has never exhibited at an international meetings trade show before. CIFCO offers 144,000 square meters of space, including 11 halls equipped with air-conditioning and ceramic floors. Among them is the largest hall in Central America (10,000 square meters) and an amphitheatre with capacity for 10,000 people.

Carina Bauer, CEO, IMEX Group, commented: “Being awarded a Wild Card space this year is extra special due to the added attention brought by this being IMEX in Frankfurt’s 10th anniversary plus GainingEdge’s involvement. We are delighted to be supporting these destinations in 2012. In the case of Sendai, the city is starting as if from scratch because of the repercussions of last year’s earthquake. Equally, despite El Salvador’s long history, it has remained largely hidden as a viable destination for the meetings industry and is now well placed to emerge from the ‘shadows.’ We are pleased to help support both destinations and to communicate what they have to offer to the market.”

The 10th IMEX in Frankfurt will take place May 22 -24 at Messe Frankfurt.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Kit Watts, T: +44 1273 224956, Cell: +44 7968417518, E: ; Carina Bauer, T: +44 (0) 1273 224921, Cell +44 (0) 7785 392812, E:

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