David Hidalgo Ayala, Show Director of IBTM Americas

At the end of March, it was confirmed that IBTM was postponed to August 26-27, 2020, pending accurate estimates and the status of Covid-19. This was shared with us by David Hidalgo Ayala, Show Director of IBTM Americas, who is the protagonist of this edition of Spotlight On.

On your marks, get set, go!

In his open, friendly, and direct manner, David sees the postponement and rescheduling of all the events to August and beyond—which is when the Meeting Industry players expect a return to activity—as a race where everyone will at the same start line, but once the flag goes down it will remain to be seen who makes it to the finish line first.

“The priority is resolving the human/health part [of the equation]. Speaking of business, all of us are focused on the same starting line, the big ones and the smaller ones, the powerful ones and the new ones alike. As soon as the ‘business is open’ flag is waved we’ll see who is who: who has done things well and who has been consistent with clients and brands, but we’ll also see those who have lived off of their compadres and their friends, and they won’t have the same ability for business anymore,” said David Hidalgo.

The evolution and the responsibility companies will take within this framework will be evident, since customers will make more rational decisions with data in hand. Now, as the saying goes, we’ll see “where the rubber meets the road.” For IBTM Americas, this circumstance comes at a time of project consolidation, which implies knowing the difference between a 100-meter sprint from a marathon.

Today, with limited resources, effective strategies are needed

In other words, there are those who throw a net to catch whatever fish they can and there are those who use a rod to pull out one fish at a time. In this sense, David proposes another analogy for the potential scenario where it will be necessary to use more of a scalpel than a sledgehammer.

“The uncertainty is still there; however, we have the structure and we’re one step ahead as far as identifying with the industry. Nowadays, the biggest player is the buyer, and that’s where we see a great opportunity through our contacts and alliances so we can identify them quickly. There will be an infinite number of companies promoting themselves, but buyers will be scarcer. I think it will be obligatory for promoters to become true strategists,” said David on the subject.

David reports that nearly 90% of IBTM’s partner brands have confirmed their support, thanks to the company’s honesty and loyalty to their customers.

Where do you stand with Covid-19?

“Focused, very committed to customer confidence, and learning from them in order to understand the new market conditions. We’re redoubling our efforts to help them do business, transforming our event so the industry perceives the value of IBTM. I feel we’re very solid,” he responded emphatically, exhibiting the confidence from his more than 20 years in the industry, his passion for challenges, and convinced of his resiliency.

Another crucial point that concerns the MICE industry in the times of Covid-19 is the possibility of using virtual events and digital tools. Though this option is more impending than ever, according to David Hidalgo it will never replace the face-to-face.

“The upside is that it vindicates face-to-face events and shows the digital world fairly for what it is: a necessary tool. Very little of what we can do today would be possible without it, but it is far from a replacement for meetings and the energy that only exists when you’re face to face. Events are not essential for the day-to-day, but they are essential in the long term, because meeting is a necessity, as well as a vital economic activity,” he reconfirmed, agreeing with Elizabeth Tovar’s assessment, as we published in the previous edition of Spotlight On.

To summarize on the topic of the pandemic and its consequences, we need to point out that nothing will be the same, just as plane travel after September 11 was never the same. To that point, David added: “It’s a tremendous challenge to not resist change, and then at the very least change the immediate environment in order to move forward.”

Another communicologist in the world of tourism

That’s right friends: David is a communicologist who initially wanted to be a sports commentator and, after specializing in marketing in a bid to develop his more creative side, he opted for event promotion, but… The dream is still there, so you’d better watch out, Christian Martinoli!

Back to business: when there’s a connection between interviewer and interviewee, the information flows naturally. David, at 44 years old, lives with his wife Silvia and their three children: Sebastian, Diego and Luis. He’s an accomplished man in search of more challenges, letting neither virus nor war get in his way. Thanks for working with us, David, one of these days we’ll play a FIFA video game challenge. And yes, we’re on the same page: you’re a good friend.

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