MEXICO’S TRANSITION TO A NEW GOVERNMENT SPARKED a series of changes and challenges on many levels, including within the country’s tourism promotion and its influential meetings industry. The closure of the Mexico Tourism Board and its offices worldwide could be seen by some to have left event planners without a centralized source of information to meet the needs of the MICE market. However, from these changes, solutions have arisen that not only promise to maintain the growth of the segment, but also to increase its projection.

“I think that it’s a great opportunity for the associations to take the leadership on the promotion of Mexico and become that source of information that the American meeting planners, and planners around the globe, are looking for,” said Eric Álvarez, CMP, CASE, President of Destination Services of Mexico, current president of the National Association of DMCs (AMDEMAC), and member of the Mexican Meetings Industry Council (COMIR). “Right now, our associations are contacting the specific destinations directly and with great success —Mexico City, Cancun, Merida, Guadalajara, Monterrey, for example— so they can move outside the ‘umbrella’ of Mexico as a country and begin promoting themselves independently. To me, it’s a natural step that had to be taken and I’m very pleased that it’s happening.”

According to Álvarez, the destinations’ offer is mature enough to work with the promotion, management, and coordination of major congresses and events. Associations such as COMIR and the new Mexico City Meetings Tourism Association (ATR), among others, are taking the lead in the promotional advertising and coordinating with the different destinations and tourism bureaus so they can provide better marketing and more destination-specific information to meeting planners according to their needs, besides providing strong support when dealing with the formalities involved in carrying out a successful event.

And therein lies the future of the meetings industry in Mexico: when destinations promote themselves, they have the opportunity to focus their efforts directly on the planner that is most compatible with their offer. “In other words,” Álvarez said, “it’s a great advantage for event planners to be able to contact the associations directly, which in turn feel free to actually make suggestions and put the planners in contact with the providers and destinations that best fit their program. It’s going to translate into better located events and a more streamlined information process with the meeting planners.”

At press time the changes in government were still recent, but the plans to overcome the challenge were already on the table and the associations have already begun to work on the participation in the most important trade shows and the coordination with the country’s top destinations. At the same time, there is an increase in partnerships between the government and private initiative to maximize the industry’s potential, and the results are beginning to show.

“It’s very difficult to predict what might happen in the future, but I’m completely optimistic because, as the saying goes in Mexico, in rough water a good fisherman can get the best catch,” added Álvarez. “I believe we’re in the middle of a complex international scene and we’re facing some challenges in the industry. However, this is when creative people with drive shine the best. In Mexico we’re creative in this industry and come up with great solutions that get us in a better place. I think it’s an interesting time, but I’m sure that our industry is mature enough to overcome these challenges.”

With changes and challenges come solutions. By positioning the destinations as business partners and not simply tourist destinations, they can create a relevant relationship with planners who will return time and again to work with their most compatible counterparts. When the culture of a destination matches the profile of the attendees, it creates a difference that centers around the creation of unique experiences —and there, in large part, lies the key to the success of any meeting, convention or event.

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