October 01, 2003
Meetings & Conventions: Newsline newsline.gif (8042 bytes)   Latin American Program Thrives
Mark Liberman
Mark Liberman Midway through a three-year program to educate Latin American planners and hotel convention services staff, participants voiced positive responses.

The initiative, called the Group Education Alliance, is sponsored by the Chicago-based Professional Convention Management Association and the Atlanta-based InterContinental Hotels Group. PCMA’s training manuals were translated into Portuguese and Spanish, and several five-day seminars have taken place in Latin America.

“This type of continuing education is so important,” said Wanda Hernández, a program attendee and owner of Caliope Events Management & Corporate Communications, based in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. Latin American planning needs to improve, she added, “and we need to see that there are other Latin American meetings professionals trying to improve overall standards.”

Hernández said the most important topic covered was contract clauses. “Contracts are changing so much,” she noted. “We need to know how to protect ourselves and our clients.”

Antonio Torres, general manager, InterContinental Rio in Rio de Janeiro, and director of operations for all of the chain’s Brazilian properties, agreed the PCMA program is vital. “The exchange of experiences and knowledge showed the needs, sensitivities and expectations of meeting planners and hotel staff,” he said.

A PCMA chapter will start next year in São Paulo, Brazil, and by the end of 2004, program leaders will create a Latin America meeting certification program similar to the Certified Meeting Professional qualification.

• T.B.

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