Mexico offers 5 major advantages for meeting planners looking for the right fit for their group and their budget.
#1 Easy Access
Mexico is next door, sharing the border with California, Arizona and Texas. “Today’s incentives and business meetings average four days”, says AnnaCeleste Brenner, West Coast regional marketing director for Cancun-based Tropical Incentives, Inc. “Mexico is only three hours from most U.S. cities, while it takes all day to get to Hawaii or Europe”. Hundreds of direct flights connect U.S. cities with Mexico’s top destinations every day and it’s also easy to get to via ground transportation from certain American cities.
#2 Cost Savings
“I’m looking for great value and Mexico is unbeatable”, enthuses Stephanie Starr, CMP, meetings and promotions manager for Boston-based Pioneer Investments. “Compared to Florida, the Caribbean, Hawaii-Cancun, hands down, has the best value”, she says. “Planners save from 10 to 50 percent on programs in Mexico”, says Brenner. Why? “Food and beverage, labor and gasoline costs are so much cheaper in Mexico”, she says. “Mexico provides excellent value, with top quality food, service and resorts”, agrees Amy Fay, incentive planner with Minneapolis-based Events Solutions.
#3 Tax Breaks
Besides lower prices, planners save money through the zero percent VAT (Value Added Tax) and other tax breaks. VAT is a sales tax applied to meetings, exhibitions and conventions organized in Mexico by foreign companies…and zero is a pretty good savings.
The VAT Exemption also eliminates the 10 percent sales tax in Border States and the 16 percent tax throughout the rest of the country on lodging, airport and transfers. “I saved $45,000 on a U.S. dental association meeting in Cancun using the VAT Exemption”, says Andrea Young, CMP, president/event director of Innovative Events inCalifornia. “This was on top of the 10 percent I saved in service charges by meeting in Mexico; in the U.S., hotel service charges average 20 to 24 percent”. Also tax-free are related event services such as set-up, registration, masters of ceremonies and translators, hosts, audiovisual equipment, decorations, security, cleaning and food and beverage by the hotel or the convention center as part of the event. Another nice break is that conventions, seminars and meetings held in Mexico are fully deductible for U.S. Federal income tax purposes. And the best news is that planners don’t have to do the paperwork to get the zero percent VAT: hotels and DMC's are happy to do it for you.
“Mexico has a fabulous infrastructure absolutely modern and high-tech in all the major destinations”, enthuses Young. Mexico offers 42 major convention and exhibit centers in dozens of cities, more than 495,000 hotel rooms and 3,100 luxury hotels available for meetings, and more than six million square feet of meeting and exhibit space.
While fun in the sun may be the first thing planners associate with Mexico, it’s actually one of the world’s prime business event destinations. Mexico has hosted world conferences on climate change, major association conventions, corporate meetings for leading-edge U.S. companies and, of course, thousands of incentives. Here’s how Mexico can match up with your event.
Corporate meetings. Michele Simes, director of events for PRO Group, Inc. in Colorado, found the Ceiba Del Mar Beach & Spa Resort on the Riviera Maya to be “a perfect fit” for a corporate gathering of 150 independent hardware store owners. “The meeting’s theme was ‘best practices and networking,’ and we took 70 of the resort’s 88 rooms, so it was perfect for networking because our attendees were the only ones there”.
Mexico’s wealth of major hotel brands, like Fairmont, Palace Resorts, InterContinental, Four Seasons, Sheraton, Marriott and others, also ensures top-notch hotel meeting facilities and services for corporate gatherings of up to 1,000 or more attendees.
Conferences or trade shows. Mexico City is hosting the 2011 7th World Chambers of Commerce Congress, which draws 12,000 chambers of commerce from 100 countries including the U.S. Cancun hosted MPI’s first meeting outside the U.S. and Canada in 2010, the MPI Meet Different Cancun Mexico Convention, which attracted 2,000 delegates, including 900 meeting planners.
In addition, Sony has staged international product roll outs in Cancun and Acapulco, and Arctic Cat, a U.S. maker of extreme sports vehicles, exhibits annually in Mexico.
Recently there are new convention centers such as San Luis Potosi Convention Center, with facilities for up to 45,000 sf; Queretaro Convention Center with 32,960 sf; Aguascalientes Convention and Congress Center with 42, 500 sf; Metropolitan Convention Center Tijuana with 24, 100 sf and Puebla Convention Center William O´Jenkins with 35, 000 sf.
Association meetings. “Mexico is ideal for associations because you can’t beat it for cost-savings, the hotel facilities are top-notch and Mexico’s friendliness makes it perfect for families since many association delegates stay before or after the meeting for a family vacation”, says Young. She organized a U.S. dental association meeting at the Fiesta Americana Coral Beach in Cancun and the members loved it, she recalls. Young says a U.S. pediatric association enjoyed Mexico so much that it’s considering putting Mexico on its meeting rotation schedule.
Incentives. “We wanted a big splash, and the El Cid Resorts in Mazatlan delivered in spades”, says Amy Oliverio, partner of Edsalls Group Services in San Diego. “The El Cid staff was incredibly top-notch, with excellent follow-through, and the attendees had a great time”. Events Solutions’ Fay arranged a high level incentive in Puerto Vallarta for a Silicon Valley firm, and used Tropical Incentives, Inc. as the DMC. “We wanted to create an off-site event that was really unique and Tropical came up the idea of a party at the luxurious vacation home of Mexican pop star Alejandro Fernandez. They coordinated everything and even got Fernandez to personally autograph his CDs, which we gave as turn-down gifts”.