Mexico: Fact or Fiction?

by Katie Callahan-Giobbi

Woman hitting pinata in Mexico

Fun in Mexico

In preparation for my recent trip to Mexico, I asked several meeting planner friends of mine what their impression was of Mexico as a meetings destination. I was organizing my thoughts for a speech I was to give to the Mexican tourism and destination marketing community. Not surprising, I heard many positive comments about what a beautiful, hospitable country Mexico is. I heard all about the great food, rich history and outstanding hotels and meeting facilities. At the same time, I heard loud and clear that Mexico’s biggest problem is safety and security.

Is it safety and security? Or is it the perception of safety and security? During my trip I had the good fortune of sitting next to a very smart, accomplished and very successful Mexican hotelier. When we talked about this topic he told me in a very straight-forward way that there are cities in the US that have a higher crime rate per capita than all of Mexico.  Mexicans do not deny there is unrest in certain parts of their country. Even so, it is a mistake to assume the entire country is a battleground. In fact, the most troubled areas are hundreds and hundreds of miles away from almost all of the convention and meeting destinations in the country. It would be like assuming that if the crime rate suddenly went up in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles would be less safe as well.

While doing my homework for this trip, I also learned that 97% of Americans who visit Mexico rate their experience as “extremely satisfied or satisfied.” That’s impressive. I also learned that tourism overall accounts for 9% of Mexico’s GDP compared to 2.7% in the US economy. President Felipe Calderon has declared 2011 as “The Year of Tourism”…and rightfully so. If my economy was that dependent on tourism, I would declare EVERY year the year of tourism. Kudos to President Calderon.

Yes,  Mexico is battling a drug war, but perhaps even more threatening to the livelihood of their people and the meetings industry, they are fighting a bigger war against the public perception of safety and security. This is one battle that can be overcome with facts.

You’ve Come a Long Way……….Baby!

By Max Suzenaar

Can You Guess What year was this photo taken?

Newborn photo

The First Camera Phone Picture

This photo “is credited as the first-ever picture taken and transmitted from a phone, made by technology entrepreneur Phillipe Kahn of his newborn baby daughter Sophie on June 11, 1997, in Santa Cruz, California and sent instantly to 2,000 relations, friends, and associates around the globe. Kahn was a proud papa in more ways than he realized:  not only did the camera phone (and otherwise transmitted digital photography) became an underpinning of the modern phenomenon known as social networking, it became a crucial communication and political tool.”*

It’s hard to believe that it was only 1997! Social Media has taken the business world by storm – ironic in that it is SOCIAL media, not BUSINESS media. Yet, its tentacles have not only crept into corporate America, they have connected the entire world at lightning speed leaving every association and corporation scrambling in its wake feverishly looking for any opportunity to ride the wave.

So how does Social Media pertain to your meetings? Your membership? Yes, Social Media is a necessary channel for your marketing mix – and its future is exciting (albeit difficult to harness with predictability). The bottom line? Social Media does not singularly drive attendance. It can influence and help create a buzz for specific segments of your audience. But with rare exception, it does not drive a call to action to register for your meeting. Yet it is essential to integrate a Social Media Plan into your communications strategy. Learn more about how to link Social Media into your meeting from your friends at MYB.

*Source: “LIFE 100 Photographs That Changed the World” Published by LifeBooks an imprint of Time Home Entertainment, Inc. Copyright 2011

NEW THINK for Fall

by Karen Hamilton

Fall leavesNow that the Labor Day weekend has come and gone I’ve heard a number of friends and industry colleagues bemoan the seemingly shorter days that are ahead and the inevitable end to the carefree Summer routine. While there is undeniably a change in the air, there is something refreshing and invigorating about Fall. I recall that “Back to School” time seemed to signal a time for a fresh start – whether it was a new pair of gym shoes, a new teacher, meeting new friends, signing up for a new activity or trying out for a sport. It was also a natural time to set new goals, start that next chapter and decide “who you were going to be” and what you were going to do in the “year” ahead.

While I no longer have to worry about trying to remember a new locker combination, I still use this time of year to look ahead and refresh goals and reassess project status and progress. Client needs continue to evolve, the dynamic world around us impacts business decisions, and what better opportunity to take a step back and challenge yourself to embrace “NEW THINK” in this “new” year as you refine your goals. What do your stakeholders really need? What value are you providing and how do you deliver that value. Too often we focus on the conference or event and forget that there are 365 days in the year where stakeholders need, want and expect value. A NEW THINK approach will help you uncover these opportunities.

At MYB we believe “NEW THINK” creates bigger possibilities and we hope our mindset resonates with you as you approach upcoming projects.

So take out your No. 2 Ticonderoga and Composition Book, (or iPads or netbooks, as the case may be), and share with us how you’ll get to the head of the class this year.

PS – And don’t forget to take time to make one more trip to the ice cream truck!