Interview with Rafael Hernandez, CEO at LA Latinaamerica Meetings and Chairman at World Meetings Forum
Our next interview dedicated to the future of hybrid events and event technology is with Rafael Hernandez, CEO at LA Latinaamerica Meetings and Chairman at World Meetings Forum.
Rafael is an exceptional professional with over 20 years of experience in the MICE industry and recently Eventex declared him as one of the top 100 most Influential People in the Event Industry.
Without further ado, let’s jump right into the interview and discover what he shared with us in this interview.
Please tell us more about your career in the event industry.
Rafael Hernandez: I have been in this industry for around 24 years, I started on the Trade shows side and then moved to the Meetings, Corporate and Incentive side. At this moment I have a great overview of the overall MICE industry as also my professional career has included being President of three important associations: Mexican Association of Trade Shows and Events — AMPROFEC; Professional Convention Management Association — PCMA Mexico Chapter; International Congress and Convention Association — ICCA Mexico Committee.
At this moment, I also have other responsibilities in the previously mentioned associations while I also take care of our Editorial Platform LM Latinamerica Meetings, Live Events Platform World Meetings Forum, and a Non-Profit WMF Foundation.
I’m committed to the global MICE industry because it is the place where I found my passion and all the values I believe in.
Which professional achievement are you most proud of?
Rafael Hernandez: I became the first Mexican and Latinamerican receiving the Event Industry Council Pacesetter Award which shows the importance of the global MICE industry for this region. It truly meant to me as it was a representation of all the effort I’ve put in the last few years. However, the thing I am most proud of is our foundation that operates with the help of people with disabilities in the MICE Industry. Up to this day, we have included more than 250 people in different events paying them the right income and giving them a great opportunity for economic independence and a productive role in our society. Last year, Mexico Grand Prix F1 hired us to include five people with disabilities for the event. Therefore, we are really committed to continuing to contribute to the inclusion of people with disabilities in the industry.
Please tell us more about your organization. (What are its mission, vision, most popular event, biggest achievement, etc.)
Rafael Hernandez: Our company is divided into three areas:
1. LM Latinamerica Meetings editorial and content platform which includes our brand:
- LM Latinamerica Meetings
- Unique Life & Style Meetings
- Culture: The best content ever for our guests
- Connections: Business appointments with the best business opportunities
- Closing: Help our clients, partners and investors go back home with business
- Purpose: The belief in our MICE industry as a true social game-changer in our society.
2. World Meetings Forum
Our face-to-face live events platform makes its 10th anniversary this year and we will celebrate with a global tour including 10 events in Tampico, Monterrey, Puebla, San Miguel de Allende, Punta Cana, Prague, Saltillo, Los Cabos, Costa Rica, and the Mexican Caribbean. Our celebration campaign is “WMF BELIEVE MEETINGS” and it’s perfect for 2022 as we are seeing the coming back for events and almost an end to pandemic times.
What we also show in every event we make is:
3. World Meetings Forum Foundation
With this non-profit organization that was four years around, we concentrated all our efforts on the inclusion of people with disabilities in the MICE industry. Our presence has been in Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic.
How do you determine whether an event was successful or not?
Rafael Hernandez: We listen to all our allies and do a lot of research with all the people who are involved in our events. Our main goal is that all the people who come to our events go back home with new business opportunities.
Which are the most common mistakes when organizing events?
Rafael Hernandez: The biggest mistake when organizing events is the fact that sometimes organizers don’t focus on the true needs of their audience, they should really listen to their clients and attendees about what they are looking for and work on that. We have seen many organizers that copy-paste one single event and try to be successful with the same formula. The new times and the coming back of the event industry will challenge us to bring and deliver more unique events full of new experiences.
What are your thoughts on event technology and its impact on the event industry?
Rafael Hernandez: I think live events will come back stronger than ever, but thanks to COVID-19 and the past two pandemic years we understood that technology is our friend and will become a key piece for the future. Technology will be our new best friend and we have to understand how we can take more advantage of it. It’s going to be a new era where live events and technology will merge as one unique platform to deliver the best experience ever.
What is your opinion on hybrid events?
Rafael Hernandez: They were born to stay, they will have many times along with us. The thing is that during pandemic times we got to understand more its value and how they can be useful for the event industry. We will continue using technology for many years and hybrid events will still take place in the event planner agenda. It was proved that hybrid events can be successful if they are professionally designed and operated.
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