Two years ago MPI (Meetings Professional International) created the Latin American Advisory Council (LAAC) with the firm intention of growing its Latin American membership. Salvador Bernal, chairman (2021-2022) of LAAC explained the significant progress they’ve made in that regard.
“We have reached the membership goals we established at the beginning of the year by more than 135 percent. We believe that by the end of 2021 we’ll have at least nine clubs, and in two more years, another six,” assured Bernal.
Thus far in 2021, six new MPI club projects have been established in Latin America: in Chile, Ecuador, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Panama, and Bajio-Western Mexico, counting among them 56 new members.
“All of these start-ups have a great likelihood of becoming clubs and later chapters. In the World Meetings Forum we gave them an incentive: The first project to become a club will raffle off a three-day visit to Xcaret. Everyone is getting into the action.”
It’s worth mentioning that LATAM already has two clubs (Colombia and Brazil) and two chapters (Mexico and the Mexican Caribbean), counting among them 326 members. Colombia has enough members to become a chapter, but for logistical reasons has decided to maintain the status quo for now.
Guided by Michel Wohlmuth and Salvador Bernal, the first two chairmen of LAAC, one of the first actions taken by MPI’s international board of directors (IBOD) has been to reduce dues by 50 percent.
While membership numbers in MPI clubs in both Canada and the United States have gone down, in Latin America these are rising steadily. This is partly due to a new receptivity and vision on MPI Global’s part, by looking beyond its original market with extraordinary results.
“Members of MPI in Latin America are doing a lot of business amongst themselves. Their passion for the MICE industry is becoming more professional. If Mexico has been the leader, throughout Latin America you’ll now find a formidable professionalism, which only needs to be named, in some countries, ‘the meetings industry,’” explained Salvador.
The main duty of the LAAC chairman is to coach new members and help them to network, generating new business where it previously did not exist.
Another pending project is to “tropicalize” educational materials originally produced in English, facilitating training and generating confidence in the southern hemisphere. In Latin America, “we need to disavow ourselves of the idea that we are not professionals,” emphasized the current chairman of LAAC.
Religious tourism moves 300 million people per year, according to figures from the World Tourism Organization and hence the relevance for the country to delve into the subject.