Latin America is rapidly emerging as a vibrant player on the business events scene and one that is grasping all the many opportunities for growth. David Hidalgo, Show Director, IBTM Americas, looks forward to the future of business events in the region and reveals his passion for turning LATAM into a driving force in the business events sector
What’s hot in business events at the moment?
Growth and investment. LATAM is already one of the meeting industry’s fastest-growing and most exciting destinations and there’s plenty of confidence this will continue. Hotel companies have made Latin America a growth priority, with sizeable investments in infrastructure, including some of the biggest names in international hospitality establishing themselves across the region. High-end European and North American brands are connecting the region to the corporate and association international markets. In addition to this, new and renovated convention centres are emerging to claim their place in city skylines.
This sector growth and investment is generating trust and confidence for business event organisers, and trust leads to bookings. According to a report that IBTM Americas produced in association with American Express Meetings and Events, the top five meetings destinations in Latin America are Rio de Janeiro in Brazil; Cancun / River Maya in Mexico; Mexico City in Mexico; Sao Paolo in Brazil; and Cartagena in Colombia – I think this is a good indicator of which areas are receiving the most investment.
How can the region prepare for the digital era?
As technologies make their way into the lives of people and businesses in LATAM, they are changing the established methods of interaction, and this is a real opportunity for the region to grow and develop. New technologies are already helping businesses in the region become more efficient; translating higher productivity into economic growth.
However, to truly keep up and strive ahead, there is a need for governments and businesses in LATAM to provide education and training that enables people to make the best use of the latest technologies and perform at their full potential.
Education is the path to make the digital future work for everyone. To prepare for the highly skilled jobs of the near future, we must teach both hard and soft skills. Lifelong learning, and retraining, has already become the norm. Inspiring Knowledge programmes and educational sessions at trade events, such as those available at IBTM Americas, have a lead role to play, but we must also see governments and private enterprises collaborate to bridge the education gap.
With the right policies and programmes in place in Latin America, the region’s naturally innovative and creative mindset will help it enable the next generation workforce. With a technology-ready workforce the region will be fully prepared to utilize the benefits and opportunities of the digital age.
How do the various countries compare in terms of tech and innovation?
The Harvard Business Review recently reported on the Digital Evolution Index 2017 – a study which analyses the state and rate of digital evolution across 60 countries. While the most technologically developed countries of the world – USA, Japan, Germany and the UK came out, as expected, at the top, the report showed that the LATAM region is showing real promise. Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and Bolivia are considered “break out” countries. This means they are rapidly evolving to widespread digitally-driven innovation, and Chile is even further ahead, it’s almost a top tier “stand out” country, with high digitization and innovation scores.
What opportunities is the region best set to grasp?
Latin America’s best opportunity is to use its natural flair for entrepreneurship and innovation, plus the vibrancy and passion for which it’s renowned. The region has often shown it can turn complex challenges into opportunities, creating transformation and growth.
Technology is the greatest instrument of change in our world. Be it artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality, virtual reality, big data, conversational systems or the Internet of Things, advanced technology is permeating Latin America. Combining the proactive mindset of the region’s people with the power afforded by digital and emerging technologies will, I believe, turn this region into a driving force in the business events sector, along with many other industries. There is a genuine opportunity at this current time for the region to align these properties and create meaningful changes to the lives of many of our people. I know it will happen and I’m looking forward to it immensely.
IBTM Americas 2019 will take place from 29 – 30 May at Citibanamex Center, Mexico City. High quality international and domestic exhibitors will join high quality Hosted Buyers from across North America, Latin America and Europe for two days of pre-planned meetings, a packed schedule of knowledge sessions, cultural activities and networking events.