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Gothenburg crosses the Atlantic

In mid-September, Gothenburg exhibited for the first time at IMEX America, the largest annual international trade fair in the US. 3,500 buyers from 68 countries attended the fair, so it was an important strategic decision to participate and use the opportunity to showcase Gothenburg as a meeting destination.

Maria Thylén from the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre/Gothia Towers, and Eva Ahlm Tobisson from Gothenburg Convention Bureau.

Eva Ahlm Tobisson, project manager at Gothenburg Convention Bureau, recently arrived home from a successful visit to Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, where the fair IMEX America took place on 11–13 September. Gothenburg exhibited at the fair alongside the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre and Gothia Towers and others in the Scandinavian Pavilion.

A number of other destinations and companies exhibited in the Scandinavian Pavilion. Photo: Chuck Janda

Several mailouts were sent to registered visitors before the fair to generate interest in Gothenburg as a meeting destination and arrange individual meetings. The mailouts focused on the city’s food culture, natural beauty and activities, as well as more meeting-related benefits such as venues, collaboration across the city and its commitment to sustainability. These benefits typically mean that organisers and delegates are impressed with Gothenburg as a host city for meetings. Delegates booked many individual meetings through Eva as a result of the mailouts. Aside from these meetings, most customers visited the stand spontaneously, as they see Gothenburg as an attractive destination.

Scandinavian Pavilion. Photo: Eva Ahlm Tobisson

“We naturally had many questions about what visitors can do in Gothenburg and its surroundings, where the coast, countryside and food appeal to visitors. Some of them checked us out because they realise that sustainability is becoming a higher priority for meetings and is an area where Gothenburg stands out. Often they also work with companies that have links to Gothenburg. Last but not least, Gothia Towers and the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre are unique in Europe for their size and location. This is something that the US market identified as one of the big advantages of Gothenburg,” explains Eva.

Apart from all the individual meetings, the uniting theme at the Scandinavian Pavilion this year was “Take a liking to a Viking”, which included Viking snacks and an interactive quiz for visitors.

Viking quiz at the Scandinavian Pavilion. Photo: Chuck Janda

It has not yet been decided whether there will be a repeat visit to IMEX America next year.

“We will evaluate the results to determine if there is value in returning next year. But my immediate reaction is that it was really worthwhile and there is a lot of interest in Gothenburg. So in this case we must hope that what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas,” concludes Eva.