Meetings & Incentives Show, the South American Way

Since 1997, when he launched Euromed, a European medical meetings expo, Ramon Alvarez has been producing small, highly successful exhibitions for meeting and incentive travel planners. In Quito, Ecuador, last month, he completed the seventh Meetings and Incentive Travel Market (MITM) Latin America. It was the first time the expo took place in South America.

Ninety international meeting and incentive buyers met with 88 Latin American suppliers in an innovative venue: the cloister of a 16th-century convent. (Quito is famous for its well-preserved colonial architecture.) Buyers, hosted by Alvarez's company, Madrid-based GSAR Marketing, were required to attend up to 24 prearranged appointments of 15 minutes each.

Several buyers were repeat attendees, and a dozen were Americans. "Ecuador is great for incentives," said Andjela Kessler, president of ITM, an independent planning firm in Atlanta, who said she hoped to bring a group from Coca-Cola here. Meanwhile, exhibitor Carmen Gomez, of Condor Travel, a destination management company in Lima, Peru, said the show "went very well."

Although it lacks a large convention center, Quito boasts meetings hotels like Swissotel, JW Marriott, and Hilton and multiple daily flights from the U.S. on Delta, American, and Continental. Other selling points are value, no currency conversion (Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar), and notable service.

Alvarez said when he suffered a minor medical emergency during the show, a staffer at his hotel escorted him to the hospital, waited there while he received treatment, and then drove him back.