Latin America: still a long way to go but on the right track

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2nd Jan, 2018
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Arnaldo Nardone, a MICE veteran in Latin America and former president of ICCA Board of Directors, tells HQ what Latin America can do to make a bigger mark on a global stage, and how FIEXPO, a hugely successful regional trade fair that celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, will transform into Ibero-American show in the future.

What can Latin American countries do to improve their standing in the meeting industry on a global scale?

The Latin countries have been improving their positioning in the international market over the last decade with great success, but there is still a long way to go. There is a big difference of knowledge about the meeting business among the Latin countries, especially cities that are the main players in the business. A lot remains to be done to consolidate the region as a strong destination as a whole.

Some might think that the job can be done using the same strategy in traditional tourism but the reality is many convention bureaus (CVB) do not have enough human resources and budgets so they cannot get the job done. These convention bureaus exist in name only, rather than develop the business in the right way a real working entity.

When compared with their European counterparts, just a few CVBs in Latin America could match up and compete on global basis. That’s why we need more alliances between public and private sectors to work out strategic long-term plans together for the present and the future. Also, as there are still connection problems in this huge continent, we need more flight connections between destinations, especially for secondary cities, not just capitals. We need to solve those problems if we want to keep and improve our growth.

What are the biggest players right now?

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia are doing well, and new destinations like Costa Rica are coming strong to the market. Their success is attributed to the presence of CVBs in strong cities, good work coordination between private and public sectors, healthy budgets, strong investment in infrastructure and human resources training, business knowledge and teamwork.

What are the major developments of the MICE destinations in Latin America in 2018?

Major developments in Latin America usually revolve around infrastructure investment. Many new convention centres are under construction, and many cities, hotels and airports are also improving their general facilities. As use of technology is becoming a trend for our destinations, we are watching how cities are investing heavily to become “smart cities”.

FIEXPO celebrates its 10th anniversary this year in Santiago de Chile. As its ambassador and co-organiser, why do you think the trade fair is such a success?

FIEXPO has been growing fast and strong nowadays as the most important regional meetings trade show in Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean. Our strategic partnership with ICCA as an association regional partner (ARP) gives us the chance to improve the business for all the Latin destinations that are usually exhibitors in our show.  At the same time, the Latin Politician Forum that will come to its 5th edition, serving as a strong platform where private and public sectors could exchange ideas, trends and discuss challenges, and helping Latin destinations enhance their positioning in the global market.

The education programme is also developed to cover critical issues that give human resources professionals more support and we bring together the best leaders in the global market to help us achieve that. We have also signed an agreement with Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) to develop the Iceberg project to promote the real value of meetings beyond the economic impact.

Any future plans for FIEXPO?

FIEXPO is improving technology to reach more audiences and create more business opportunities between clients and exhibitors.  Now we are working on becoming an Ibero-American show by bringing Spain and Portugal together with all the Latin destinations, improving prospects and creating more opportunities between the regions.

So you see FIEXPO has a lot of new projects on the table and is ready to face the new challenges. We always say the show is made by Latin people for Latin people and we know how to do that!

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Supported by the European Society of Association Executives (ESAE) and the Union of International Associations (UIA), Headquarters Magazines serve the needs of international associations organizing worldwide congresses.

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