Over the next few weeks, you’ll be seeing plenty of headlines about Brazil. As the country gears up to host the World Cup this summer and continues to prepare for the Olympics in 2016, Brazil is in the midst of massive growth. A new international terminal just opened at São Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport. Other airports around the country in cities such as Cuiaba, Fortazela and Belo Horizonte are also working to finish major renovations. Construction workers are putting the finishing touches on stadiums that will host the world’s best football players.
So what do all of these projects have to do with the meetings industry? Well, pretty much everything. While Brazilians are aiming for success in the short-term at the upcoming games, the country’s leaders are equally focused on what these infrastructure enhancements will mean for the future. All of these projects will lay the long-term foundation that will support more meetings, more attendees and more business travel.
It’s no secret that growth comes with challenges, and Brazil’s accelerated development is no exception. Many of the headlines you’re going to see may question slow progress or the mood among Brazilian citizens. However, those reports only tell a fraction of the story. On my recent trip to São Paulo for MCI’s 2014 Association Day, I discovered the country has already made huge strides in leaping over the gaps that all developing countries face on the path toward becoming established business destinations.
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Let’s back up: I traveled to São Paulo in 2011 when PCMA first participated in MCI’s Association Day. When we met with the Brazilian planning community then, it was clear that there was work to do to meet North American expectations. Just two years later, it’s easy to see that meeting professionals are on the right track. The conversation is more mature. The technologies are more sophisticated. Brazil is starting to keep pace with the rest of the convention world.
Sure, there is still work ahead, but it’s clear that Brazil’s future is very bright. The Global Business Travel Association forecasts a 12.5 percent increase in business travel spending this year followed by another 5.9 percent in 2015. Those promising figures are in addition to what has already been a powerful surge forward for Brazil since the beginning of the millennium. Annual spending on business travel has tripled since 2000.
The Big Reason To Look Toward Brazil For Your Future
I know international meetings raise plenty of uncertainties for North American planners. Will your attendees feel worried about stepping out of their comfort zones? Will the language barrier create big challenges? What are the potential financial implications of an overseas destination? All of these questions are understandable, but there are tremendous opportunities in Brazil. Because of the population density in cities like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, regional meetings attract big crowds of nearby professionals. While many in America worry about what lies ahead for member-based organizations, the association market in Brazil is gaining momentum. In an era of concerns about registration numbers, Brazil presents a chance for many meeting planners to increase attendance.
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