by Michael J. Shapiro | September 26, 2018
Planner interest in bringing groups south of the border remains robust, as seen this week in Los Cabos for the inaugural Destination Mexico event from Northstar Meetings Group. Planner spots for the nearly 100-person event filled up by mid-summer. Suppliers here at the event represent a cross-section of destination management companies, hotels, and convention and visitor bureaus from across Mexico.
Host destination Los Cabos in particular has a lot of new supply to show off, with a surge of new and reimagined properties having been introduced to the market in the years following 2014's devastating Hurricane Odile. The Baja California Sur resort area has 12,000 new guest rooms coming online this year and next.
Eduardo Chaillo, general manager for Latin America for Maritz Global Events and a longtime advocate for the meetings industry in the region, addressed the group in his opening keynote, "Meetings in Latin America: Perception vs. Reality." Chaillo provided regional context for planners with respect to demographics, the heterogeneity of the population, and some key differences with respect to value-added taxes, convention center ownership and commission structures. He also addressed the importance of being educated about geography and potential security issues.
"Overcoming misperceptions is crucial," he said. "Some media outlets sensationalize, so take everything with a grain of salt and educate yourselves about the destination and what common-sense precautions you should be taking." To that end, Chaillo suggested resources for comparing hard data among the world's countries and staying informed with updates from sources such as the U.S. Department of State
Chaillo concluded with some words of advice: "Do not get desperate when you don't get answers as fast as you'd like from suppliers in Latin America. Our concept of time is a little different. But they will get back to you."