EW speaks to three international exhibition experts to ask if they are active in Latin America, and what the future holds for business in the region.
CEO, Messe München
A highlight of 2017 at Messe München was the founding of our subsidiary in Brazil and thus the beginning of our business activities in the country.
For this purpose, we have established a long-term cooperation with Sobratema (Brazilian Association of Technology for Construction and Mining), and are organising the M&T Expo, the M&T P&S and the Construction Expo together with the association.
For the first time in fall 2018, we will be hosting the M&T Expo in Sᾶo Paulo – an industry trade fair for construction equipment and the second largest trade fair in South America.
For Messe München, Brazil is by far the most important market in South America because it is the largest market in Latin America. Our international strategy concentrates on strong growth markets, and this includes Brazil despite all the challenges.
The country is one of the world’s top ten economies, and as one of the BRICS countries it offers a great deal of potential in our view, especially over the medium and long terms. Brazil covers more than half the South American market for construction machinery, so the M&T Expo is a perfect fit for us.
Our activities in Brazil are important to us for strategic reasons: As the organizer of bauma in Munich, which is the world’s largest trade fair in terms of area, we are thus extending our bauma network to South America and are now represented in the con-struction machinery industry on all the world’s important markets – including, in addi-tion to Munich, Shanghai/China, Delhi/India, Johannesburg/South Africa, Mos-cow/Russia and now Sᾶo Paulo/Brazil.
Moreover, we also see a demand in Brazil for more of our leading trade fairs.
Brazil’s exhibitions business is concentrated in the Sao Paolo region, with the city itself playing host to a number of large-scale, international-standard venues together with a well-established, mature and professional exhibition sector in which all of the leading global operators are already present with local offices.
As a result competition in Brazil can be fierce, and there are few if any obvious opportunities to introduce new brands or new concepts into the local exhibition ecosystem.
Add into the mix a highly congested venue calendar in Sao Paolo, the cautious approach many local businesses are taking to events as a result of the current squeeze in the domestic economy and the often-byzantine complexities of the local taxation system and Brazil can often prove to be a challenging place to launch new events even for existing local operators – never mind anyone thinking of trying to do so from a base 12 hours flying time away in the UK or Europe.
Brazil is by far the largest country in South America by size and population, with a greater GDP than the rest of the countries in the LatAm region combined even despite the recent economic challenges the country has faced.
All of these underlying fundamentals of the Brazilian economy remain incredibly strong indicators for the events industry, and so for anyone looking to build a business of scale in the region, Brazil is by far and away the #1LatAm country to be operating in.
Clarion have had an office and a business in Brazil since the acquisition of the LAAD show in 2008, and since then we have diversified outside of our original core defence sector into a number of different industries, as well as staging some confex-scale events as well.
For us, Brazil is therefore very much about ensuring the events in our current portfolio remain market leaders, and ensuring that our local team and office remain alert to the opportunities which will inevitably come around once the economy starts to pick up again in the next few years.
Rafael Hernández, COE
Chairman, World Meetings Forum
One good reason for launching tradeshows in Latin America at the moment is because the exchange rate for companies trading in dollars and euros is favourable when it comes to paying for products and services in this region.
The Trump effect is also helping the region. The organisers of many events that were initially planned for launch in the US are now looking to Latin Americas due to his policies with immigration and trade. It’s really making people rethink their approach to the Americas.
His trade war also means people are turning to events as they need to make these connections themselves.
The exhibitions industry is protected because we increasingly work with private companies, many of the companies and hotels understand this and as a result we can rely on their business. Not everyone is happy to rely on government strategy as this means the industry is dependent on government budgets and support for business. So this is calming everybody looking to do business in Latin America. We understand the path of the meetings and tradeshow industry, and we will continue this development.
Infrastructure and connectivity are also changing the way that people are able to business in the region. For example flights have started from Dubai to Mexico City via Barcelona. Carriers from Chin and Japan are now looking to bring more international connections to the region, while local carriers such as Copa are opening connections between Mexico and the US. This will extend to Canada in time.