Brazil: Difficult Times Require Creative Solutions
Our World | On 08, Aug 2013
This is the last in the recent series of articles for Our World by ‘movers and shakers’ from companies based outside of the UK. Our guest bloggers have been giving us their professional opinions on how they are overcoming obstacles in their own country and this final installment by Leandro Popik, President of Exclusive South America looks at the challenges faced in Brazil.
The world’s economic downturn’s impact on ESA was immediate and strong. From 2008 to 2009, ESA saw existing contracts cancel, forcing us to immediately make bold choices regarding our future.
Head office moves to Rio de Janeiro
Until 2008, our Head office was in Buenos Aires. We realized that Rio de Janeiro and Brazil needed to be our new centre. Brazil’s economy was experiencing fantastic growth and stability, leading to massive investment and major improvements in security throughout the country. Brazil had also just been awarded the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, making it the unparalleled destination in the world for incentives in this decade. Brazil was now the first letter in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), considered the four emerging economic powerhouses of the world, with Brazil standing out in this group as the only western democracy and for having the highest income per person. The demand for international events in Brazil is increasing, and the trend doesn’t appear to end. After the Olympics, Brazil will have a bigger and better offering of hotels, flights, and services than ever before.
As a native-born Brazilian, the move back to Brazil for me felt as natural as it felt necessary. The move to base our headquarters in Rio and not in Sao Paulo is essential for our incoming incentives division. Setting up our office in Rio’s Barra neighbourhood, where the Olympic Village is currently being built, sent a strong message that ESA would be closer to the 2016 Olympics than any other DMC. We created an internal division to handle World Cup and Olympics business, which recently handled the June 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup. We continue investing in increasing the size and quality of our team in this office.
Bolstering Presence in Chile and Peru
Peru and Chile’s image in international business circles greatly improved during the downturn. As a consequence, ESA bolstered investments in our offices in Lima and Santiago: office space, human resources, financial infrastructure, and technology all received an overhaul.
Leveraging our International Offices
ESA’s offices throughout South America make us the only DMC in South America able to provide excellence in event management and support throughout the continent, as we’re the only DMC that has its own office in each of the main South American destination countries. We have been increasingly leveraging this in many ways. Our offices collaborate on different joint destination programmes, we provide our own pre- and post-extensions anywhere in the continent and our offices help each other operate international business events originating within South America.
Introducing Better Processes, Technologies, and Know-How
During the downturn, rewrote our internal processes for everything, improving internal policies and guidelines, introducing new technologies to manage and share information across offices and with clients, and to communicate more closely with clients. We’ve developed more skills in sport event incentive management, and in conference and congress management and support.
Adapting to Lower Budgets
As client budgets shrank, we adapted by creating powerful three and four night incentive travel experiences. We also broadened and strengthened our relations with suppliers to better negotiate rates and increase our bargaining power. We looked more closely at our onsite event costs and our overhead costs to keep prices competitive for clients. We established a more open communication with our clients to help them spend their money wisely.
Improving the Sales Team
ESA sales and marketing Reps have improved everywhere. We have appointed Reps in key growth markets such as Mexico and Australia, and we have appointed more accountable representatives in our key markets: the USA, Canada, and the UK. With Mags Worldwide in the UK, our British clients know they have an accessible, accountable, and committed ESA representative in Britain, who is always there for consulting and support, and to organise educational presentations in the UK and educational trips to our destinations.