Spotligh-On: Álvaro Rojas

This month we’re rediscovering Central America. We spoke with Álvaro Rojas, managing director of the Costa Rica Convention Center (CCCR), who filled us in on what’s new with the venue and this ideal destination for boutique events.

Álvaro has been in the meetings industry for 15 years, is a hotelier by profession with a master’s degree in general management, has specialized in management team development, and is currently pursuing his doctorate in business sciences.

“I’m passionate about knowledge and the training of professionals. I launched a book last year and will publish another one this year in September,” he shared.

CCCR, a “boutique” venue ideal for the new normal

Costa Rica’s way of working its promotional strategies and services as a “boutique” destination, with small group management, feels as though they’ve been anticipating the new normal.

“Sixty percent of international events coming into Costa Rica, as well as 81% of ICCA international events in 2019 in LATAM, involve 500 people. We have a venue and the infrastructure in line with world standards. Meetings are becoming more and more specialized, evolving towards the non-massive,” said Alvaro Rojas.

These indicators for meetings in 2021 align well with Costa Rica, thanks to its small hotels, well-connected territory, pleasant outdoor climate, and rich natural scenery.

“In essence, Costa Rica represents the opposite of the pandemic; we don’t have to do anything different from what we have been doing, just readjust,” Alvaro said.

The CCCR has been open for just over three years, during which time it has hosted 450 events and served more than 400,000 attendees in its 15,600 m². It has its own virtual digital ecosystem to cater to the hybrid era, which you can navigate by clicking here.

The venue is relatively young but has already received more than 15 international awards and certifications, including recognition from the World Travel Awards and the International Association of Convention Centers (AIPC).

“These awards allow us to compete globally in the MICE segment, with excellent service, operational efficiency, and sustainability, the three macro elements that we want to highlight to become a reference point in Latin America,” he said.

The pandemic was no match for Costa Rica’s Pura Vida!

Costa Rica is among the countries that managed the pandemic most effectively, mainly thanks to its health system. They delayed the surge of contagions for eight months, a historical achievement that is more relevant today than ever before.

In Costa Rica, events ceased in March 2020 and restarted in August 2020. “We took a responsible stance from day one. Our crisis committee immediately took over, and that helped us to take quick action,” stated Alvaro.

“Costa Rica was the first country to establish protocols, which no one else had. We introduced them in May 2020 and acted quickly at a national level. The CCRI spearheaded the workshops on protocols with suppliers, organizers, and even restaurants,” said the CCRI’s General Manager.

This responsiveness helped them to shorten the learning curve, even though to some extent they really had no choice. Álvaro says that the day after the country announced its restrictions, they had a scheduled event for 200 corporate clients, so they set up a digital platform in record time, broadcast, and held the first hybrid event with equal attendance in person and virtually.

One of the positive results during this period of crisis was acquiring four international certifications in biosafety issues. In short, Costa Rica is ready to welcome international meetings and conventions.

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