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Incentive Marketing Association Europe

RRN recently submitted questions to Incentive Marketing Association Europe President Sean Wilkinson on the role of the IMA international chapters. 
The Incentive Marketing Association Europe and Middle East chapter reflects the diverse needs of the industry on the other side of the Atlantic, he explains. 
RRN. Why is there an IMA Europe and Middle East, etc. separate from the US?
Sean WilkinsonSW. IMA Global is located in the US representing US members. IMA Europe, MEA and Brazil are located centrally in their regions and are focused on representing the local industry to strengthen the Incentive, Reward and Recognition (IRR) industry globally.
RRN.  What are the primary objectives and services of IMA Europe?
SW. IMA Europe is dedicated to promoting high standards of professionalism in the IRR industry. By creating awareness for our industry and the services IMA Europe members can offer globally, we are able to help our members prosper in a changing business environment through knowledge sharing, industry content delivery and networking.
We deliver this with the facilitation of member activities to include pan-European events, webinars, monthly publications, and virtual monthly networking etc.
RRN. US IMA members are invited to join the IMA Europe chapter. What’s the value?
SW. We have always had a contingent of US members that also have a presence in Europe as well as the US. By more US companies joining IMA Europe, it will broaden member reach, extend networking opportunities, and deliver a platform for global collaborations.
RRN. What differences do you see between the US and other markets related to incentives and recognition?
SW. In the US, a significant market share is serviced by large global players. The European market is distinctly fragmented in relation to service and solution providers with geographic anomalies and uniqueness by region. This leads to specialization within many regions by local providers and cross-border collaborations
RRN. What was the impact of Brexit on the market?
IMA EuropeSW. The pandemic has eclipsed Brexit with regards impact to our industry. The main effects are related merchandise with additional tariffs and delays to supply chain. Also, many UK companies were required to register in a European country to continue to trade.
RRN. How did IMA Europe adapt in the last year to continue to deliver value and connectivity to its members?
SW. We knew that it was imperative to continue to present an environment of knowledge-sharing and connectivity within the industry. With the pandemic restricting our ability to host physical events, we quickly developed a virtual solution in the form of the ‘’Getting Better Together’’ webinar series which ran from mid-March weekly till early June.
At this early stage of the pandemic, it was a great outlet for our member community to connect and to be updated on what was happening in other regions, new initiatives in different markets and developing trends.
We then launched the ‘’Getting Going Together’’ monthly webinar series in June through until September, covering topics that included: 
Loyalty – Consumer Engagement and Reward
Technology transformation – New World of Payments and Rewards
Employee Engagement and Improving Motivation
Reward Innovation in Fintech and Start-ups
The programs are delivered by experts and leaders from across our industry.
Another new initiative that we launched was ‘’IMA Chat’’ which is an online publication with content dedicated to theIRR industry. Initially launched for monthly circulation, we have adjusted this in 2021 to bi-monthly.

To support our members and member companies, we worked with IMA Europe member BigBuy in the donation of PPEs to member-nominated front-line facilities and to support workplace safety as employees started to return to work.
To elevate knowledge sharing, we launched the IMA Europe ‘’Content Hub.’’ The Content Hub is a library of knowledge for our industry which includes articles, research, presentations, on-demand webinar playbacks, white papers and more.
Later in the year we set in motion IMA ‘’Coffee Chats,’’ our monthly casual virtual networking session. It’s a great platform for members to get to know each other and share thoughts, opinions, and insights with fellow peers from the industry. We recently changed the scheduled timings to a European afternoon slot to facilitate our US colleagues. We will continue to arrange this on alternate months ongoing.
We’re delighted to say that our membership actually grew over the last 12 months and that the new initiatives and activities have helped build stronger connections with our members.
RRN: What are the plans for 2022 for IMA Europe?
SW. With the pandemic getting under control and reasonable success within the Eurozone on the vaccination roll out, we can with confidence look to plan physical events in 2022.
Our draft plan at present is Paris in February/March; Amsterdam in May/June, and finally our IMA Europe London Summit on Sept. 22-23. With the return of our events, we will continue to facilitate and the deliver the new initiatives to include IMA ‘’Coffee Chats’’; IMA Chat; Webinars; Content Hub etc…We have never been so active, engaged and connected. The future is bright.
For More Information
Sean Wilkinson
President, IMA Europe
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