Any doubts about Mexico’s ability to host large international conferences and conventions were put to rest last December when over 15,000 delegates from 193 nations convened at the United Nation’s COP16 Climate Change Conference. The event was headquartered at the 2,457 Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort Cancun.
In May, the Convention Industry Council further validated the region as a stellar meeting destination with over 200 Certified Meeting Professionals and their guests attending the annual CMP Enclave. The event was held at the 426-room Hilton Cancun Golf Resort & Spa, which will reopen as the all-inclusive IBEROSTAR Cancun on December 1.
Taking a look at the entire map of Mexico, the country hosted 140 international conventions in 2010, drawing over 36,000 foreign attendees. Mexico City hosted 43 of those events, ranking 15th on the international list of top destinations for large conventions by the International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA).
By the way, if you’re booking a program in the capital, an absolute must group experience is a visit to the brand new, $70 million Museo Soumaya, owned by the world’s wealthiest individual, Carlos Slim. The starkly modernist building houses Mr. Slim’s wildly eclectic private art collection totalling over 66,000 pieces, including: Da Vinci, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Dalí, Rivera and Renoir. The museum is also home to the second largest collection of Rodin sculpture in the world.
Overall, Mexico jumped up five notches in ICCA’s country rankings in 2010 to place 22nd worldwide.
Airlift accessibility, modern infrastructure, huge hotel inventory and the vaunted beaches and cultural attractions are the significant selling points for international meeting planners. In addition to all of that, the incredible values and event ROI are arguably unsurpassed anywhere in the hemisphere.
“Meeting planners are able to get so much more for their budget right now,” says Eduardo Chaillo, executive director of the Mexico Tourism Board. He explains that having luxury brands like St. Regis, Fairmont, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Grand Velas, the new Park Hyatt in Mexico City, among others, instills confidence among US planners and attendees. He also emphasizes that having those marquee properties once perceived as unapproachable for many groups are now delivering through-the-roof ROI that’s unrivaled elsewhere.
On the incentive side, Chaillo says, “For incentives, we’re different and exotic. But we’re also convenient to the US, and we’re definitely more affordable than other international destinations.”
Sherrie Chelini, VP of Par Avion’s incentives division, agrees. “It doesn’t take 10 hours to reach Mexico,” she says. “Plus, Mexico understands Americans and the incentive market. So they readily provide attractive promotions or rates to help fit our clients’ budgets.”
Another silver lining both she and Chaillo point out is the zero-tax initiative, which eliminates the value-added tax (VAT) for services, facilities and F&B on meeting and convention business.
Chaillo says, “We’re very equipped right now with our new convention centers and facilities within hotels. Known DMCs are also bringing the [meeting planner] certification process to Mexico, so planners can see we’re taking action to speak the same language.”