BREAK FREE: IMEX America 2022

Client: IMEX
Venue: Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: October 2024
      • The pandemic forced the meeting and event industry to hit the pause button. In that pause, the industry was given the opportunity to rethink how things are conventionally done to see how we might improve. Why is that necessary? Let’s see where conventional thinking has gotten us: The average event participant contributes almost a quarter of a metric ton of CO2 emissions per day at a conference.
      • 70 percent of event speakers worldwide are men.
      • 58 percent of managers say they must reinvent their organization to survive, yet 75 percent of transformation efforts fail to deliver.
      • Attention spans — thanks to mobile devices — are only eight seconds long, yet conference programs are still filled with hour-long lectures.

Clearly, it’s time to break free of industry norms so we can overcome these challenges. How can meeting and event professionals find solutions to these challenges? Design thinking.

“Design thinking is one of the most powerful ways that event professionals can approach their events,” said Anthony Vade, Encore event experience strategy director. “It allows us to navigate the complexities that exist in our stakeholder relationships to find the most elegant solution to create the change that events need to create.”

 To generate awareness, conversations and potential solutions, Encore partnered with IMEX America to create an immersive BREAK FREE booth on the IMEX America show floor.

What we were trying to achieve

Goals for this journey of transformation were to:

      • Encourage the industry to challenge the status quo.
      • Show participants that they can break free from whatever is holding them back.
      • Spotlight the themes of connection, inspiration and collaboration.
      • Connect participants with the Encore team and get them talking about topics that impact organizations, local communities and the world.

Our approach

Encore utilized its strategy and creative process to map the attendee journey and design the experience. The starting point was IMEX’s stated goals for the event. The themes for Smart Monday’s education were ‘connection, community and belonging.’ And IMEX had strong sustainability initiatives, focusing on offsetting carbon emissions and diverting waste from landfills to create a ‘zero-waste’ event. From here, Encore initiated its design thinking process.
      • The Encore Strategy team used tools to unlock empathy and analyze stakeholder needs.
      • Once stakeholder needs were defined, the experience designed focused on how to fulfill them by making design choices that would elicit human emotion, drive interaction and spark meaningful conversation while delivering on IMEX partnership goals.
      • The Encore Creative team conceived, designed, wrote and produced the content, including a video in the second room, which was displayed on a 12-ft. high, 180-degree LED screen.
      • The Encore Sales Engineering and Application Development teams collaborated to customize its Chime Live Engagement Platform to create engagement opportunities and collect data for the Sales and Marketing teams. The platform was used to drive engagement from poling attendees to create real-time word clouds to providing attendees the opportunity to visualize IR-generated content, Encore’s Chime Live platform was the experience platform glue. Click below to read the BREAK FREE Survey Results below.

To align with IMEX America’s zero-waste event initiative, the Encore team made conscious decisions to reduce waste within the booth space:

      • Using reusable printed items
      • Replacing traditionally printed items with projected or digital content
      • Using reusable pipe and drape rather than carpet or built walls
      • Using water bubblers instead of water bottles
      • Refraining from giving away SWAG items
      • Serving bar drinks from recycled and alternative materials


“The experience for me was really about a conversation and how we break free from the surface-level conversations and get a lot deeper,” said Ashley Lawson, vice president of business partnerships, Achieve Incentives & Meetings. “We have the power to make changes and going through this experience, this exhibit, we can break through the surface-level conversations of sustainability, DE&I, and get a heck of a lot deeper to talk about the actions that we can take to actually make change.”

Industry influencer Julius Solaris shared in his social recap of BREAK FREE at IMEX America: “Go big or go home. Without a shadow of a doubt, the exhibit game’s absolute winner was Encore with its BREAK FREE activation. A monumental experiential journey. It could have been less brainy at times with the six QR codes to scan, but it doesn’t matter. Showing up with this level of bravery matters. I see you there thinking: ‘But they must have spent millions!’ Some booths may have spent even more than them but aligning the presence with the message is everything.”

Other results:

      • More than 900 people experienced the Break Free activation at IMEX America.
      • Nine media outlets, including MPI, Skift, Smart Meetings and Meetings Today, provided media coverage of the booth during IMEX America.
      • Encore reached all eight of its top-tier trade targets, including all major industry media, which will provide coverage on Encore and its innovative end-to-end event solutions through Q1 2023.
      • To deepen the connection between the BREAK FREE experience and industry customers, Encore is releasing a Break Free from Conventional Thinking guidebook with chapters being released in November and December 2022.
      • Encore successfully delivered the message to venue partners and meeting and event participants that it is an important industry partner that can provide end-to-end solutions, deliver transformative experiences and help industry professionals manage rising costs with its innovative solutions.

Encore’s Break Free ’22 Video Highlights:

Continuing the conversation

Encore does more than start conversations. It also cares about walking the talk. One example is around sustainability and how Encore is deepening its commitment beyond offering sustainable options for event technology.

Company-wide, Encore is finalizing our 2021 Global GHG emission footprint so it has a baseline to put goals around, including ones that involve our in-property inventory and operations. Looking ahead to 2023, Encore will put its first electric vehicle (EV) trucks on our fleet and install a solar farm at our largest U.S. facility in Washington, D.C. to offset power consumption for that location and return excess energy to the grid.

Click image below to enlarge: