Across three days, 10-12 August, the 2021 UFI LatAm Conference reconnected the pandemic-affected exhibition industry community across Latin America. Led by Ana-Maria Arango, UFI regional director for Latin America, the digital-only event offered participants a blend of keynote sessions and expert content, as well as networking, matchmaking and business development opportunities.
Open to all industry professionals, the conference was attended by 200 exhibition industry delegates from 35 countries. Colombian-based Incontacto provided the platform, which offered simultaneous translations in Spanish, English and Portuguese and allowed delegates to network face-to-face and continue discussions in between keynotes.
The event was hosted at Corferias, Bogota, where Arango was joined in person by UFI’s LatAm Chapter chair José (Pepe) Navarro Meneses (Tarsus, Mexico) and vice-chair Raul Strauss (FEXPOCRUZ, Bolivia).
Several speakers focused on the new reality organisers must adapt to in the digital event space. Francisco Sotomayor, managing director of GL events Chile, shared experiences from the digital edition of one of his shows, EXPOMIN, and how they managed to deploy a subscription model to better serve clients.
Andrés López Valderrama, executive president at Corferias, talked about the new competencies companies must embrace to respond to crisis and change at this time of uncertainty. For him, the top priorities are talent management, mental health, and customer focus and retention, as well as opportunities to help organisations respond to any future threat or change in the ecosystem.
Rolf Pickert, CEO of Messe Muenchen do Brasil, focused on lessons learned from organising several types of digital engagements with clients. “Hybrid solutions are a part of life; they are nothing to be scared of,” he said.
The conference provided updates on the reopening of the region, with some countries already up and running, and others struggling to secure a ‘go date’. UFI added the claim that exhibitions are the fast track to economic recovery, and government recognition and support are essential.
UFI’s Arango concluded: “Of course, we would have preferred to meet in person, but this year’s conference offered positive outcomes in terms of lessons learned and a view to what’s coming next. On behalf of the UFI team, I want to thank the speakers and panellists for delivering such compelling and valuable content.”