Yes, live events are still happening all over the world. Just last week, World Meetings Forum (WMF) brought 227 people to Los Cabos, Mexico, for a three-day focus on how meeting professionals are partnering to move ahead in uncertain times.
Eduardo Chaillo, global meetings and tourism specialist and Smart Meetings Editorial Advisory Board member, was one of the few who flew in from outside the country, and he sent back a firsthand account from the ballroom at Paradisus Los Cabos.
The luxury property on the Sea of Cortez boasts 350 guest rooms and more than 24,000 sq. ft of meeting space, plus bountiful outdoor areas. It is part of the Stay Safe with Melia program certified by Bureau Veritas to guarantee best practices for the health of everyone.
Los Cabos has grown to become popular for meetings and business tourism in Mexico because of the number of world-class facilities housed amid stunning views with an abundance of group activities. A recent increase in its meetings infrastructure has added several new resorts with unique event rooms, restaurants and meeting venues.
The WFA event, which was themed 360 Degrees and Beyond, showed off a number of these venues, including Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos, where a Join and Meet Cocktail was staged.
A Collaborative Effort
The event’s success was predicated on the willingness of all parties, organizers, venue and attendees to follow guidelines and best practices. “To achieve the objectives proposed in this plan, your collaboration is essential,” was one of the first rules in the welcome packet. “We thank you for following the recommendations of the WMF team and its strategic allies with responsibility, thinking about everyone’s health. Remember: We take care of you; you take care of us.”
International destination representatives based in Mexico who attended included individuals from Colombia, Peru, France, Dominican Republic and the Czech Republic.
Chaillo described the use of rapid testing, sanitary measures and the presence of health professionals as key to building trust. He also noted the sense of psychological urgency on the part of participants to reconnect, reactivate the industry and take care of each other.
That supportive educational theme was present in the agenda, as well, including a forum on How to Destroy and Build and Survive after the Pandemic as well as a case study of how IMEX Frankfurt went virtual with IMEX Group CEO Carina Bauer and Mexican Council of the Meetings Industry President Jaime Salazar. That session was titled Making Tough Decisions.
“What was consistent during the event was that sense of collaboration between different members of the value chain,” Chaillo said.
Of the seven sessions, five included hybrid components by bringing participants in on virtual streams. Out of a total of 16 speakers, seven were connected virtually from different latitudes within Mexico and outside of it, including Bauer and Sherrif Karamat, CEO of PCMA.
Organizers, with the help of Paradisus Los Cabos and Encore/PSAV, designed a program that met all social distancing standards while still being engaging. The format allowed for many types of sessions—one-on-one business meetings, academic sessions, opening and closing ceremonies. Flexibility during the assembling phase was the secret to success.
Three apps—World Meetings Forum App powered by Eventtia, Melia App and Web Switcher App—helped everyone stay connected.
A master of ceremonies underscored the message about the importance of wearing a mask and/or distancing, Chaillo reported. Small details, such as keeping the volume of music low so attendees did not have to get closer or shout to speak, also advanced the cause of safety.