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On the Scene: Brazil's Forum Eventos

With Brazil dominating the headlines these days—and not for the right reasons, given the uncertainty of its Olympics hosting preparedness, the Zika virus and impeachment of its president—the fourth-annual Forum Eventos, held April 11 and 12 at Sao Paolo’s Reboucas Convention Center, provided a respite from the roiling waters, offering the nation’s meetings and events professionals the opportunity to exchange ideas, network at social events and hear from industry experts on a variety of MICE subjects.

Meetings Today was fortunate enough to be invited along, and I even got to deliver a presentation on current meetings trends using the results of our annual Meetings Today Trends Survey, along with insights provided by some of the many people who write for our magazine and website.

Founded and led by Director Sergio Junqueira Arantes, who hails from the publishing industry, Forum Eventos 2016 attracted 300 participants, comprised of events professionals ranging from planners to facility operators, media and others involved in the Brazilian and Latin American MICE industry. Attendees included 100 meeting planners, 110 suppliers and 90 organizers and agencies that produce and facilitate events.

Joining me as U.S. presenters were Shawna Suckow, chairwoman of SPIN, the Senior Planners Industry Network, who acted as a facilitator, motivator and frequent session moderator for the conference, repeatedly prompting audience members to break the ice and get out of their chairs to participate; Tracy Stuckrath, founder and chief connecting officer of Thrive! Meetings & Events, who talked on a variety of F&B topics, including her specialty, food allergies; Sima Dahl, a Chicago-based speaker that is on the rise, specializing in personal branding and social media; speaker, trainer and consultant Rosealee Lee; Kristi Casey Sanders, MPI’s director of digital marketing strategy; and Scott Craighead, vice-president of exhibitions and events of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE).

According to Arantes, the goal of Forum Eventos is to extend the amount of information and knowledge, as well as build relationships, for those in the Brazilian and Latin American MICE sector.

“We search to bring new information, to promote important subjects, such as security, ways of payment and ethics in the relationships between customers, agencies and suppliers, and to show and demonstrate the success of the industry,” Arantes explained.

Arantes said that the biggest challenge facing Brazil’s MICE market is a lack of adequate facilities for mega events such as congresses and conventions, as well as the current political instability that results in a dearth of industry initiatives and government funding to implement them.

At the time of the forum, the Rio de Janeiro Olympics were just starting to pick up steam, with a confident presentation from Marcelo Traldi Fonseca, operations director for the 2016 Rio Olympics, who detailed the massive amount of progress on Olympic facilities, and who was joined by Stuckrath to discuss some of the innovative F&B elements of the Games. Stuckrath, who received a tour of the Olympics food and beverage operation, was clearly bowled over by the high level of organization and specialization at the facility.

“I was excited to learn from Marcelo the efforts he and his team are making to keep the Olympic athletes with food allergies and other dietary needs safe and healthy,” Stuckrath said. “He realizes the responsibility he has for providing safe and healthy menu items for all athletes and the risk it entails in potentially destroying the dreams of an Olympic athlete by getting them sick or worse.

"He tackled the challenge by training his staff, dedicating part of the facility for specific production efforts, installing electronic menus on each buffet that outline each menu item and their ingredients, and barcoding each tray of food and spoon with the food, the table location and specific placement. If something is placed on the wrong table, a manager is notified and the food has to be removed. Wow!”

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About the author
Tyler Davidson | Editor, Vice President & Chief Content Director

Tyler Davidson has covered the travel trade for nearly 30 years. In his current role with Meetings Today, Tyler leads the editorial team on its mission to provide the best meetings content in the industry.