How do you measure the success of a national travel trade showcase such as Pow Wow, Spains Fitur, the London Travel Market or Berlins ITB, just to mention the most important annual exhibits in the world?
There are many gauges, but the most relevant must include the caliber of the buyers, the efficiency of computer-run appointments between buyers and those selling a wide array of travel product, transportation from hotels to the designated venue, and last but hardly least, the attractiveness of the host city.
There was a time, decades ago, when Mexicos own travel showcase, Tianguis (which means pow wow, the same as the U.S. showcase), was truly an efficient affair. Besides, Acapulco was (believe it or not) a world-class destination. But that ceased to be true a long time ago, to the extent that for years, Tianguis was referred to in the trade as Pachanguis, which translates into all fiesta and little serious business.
The decline of Acapulco, attributed to corrupt authorities which never took measures to protect the beautiful environment such as preventing the dumping of raw sewage into the sea, went hand in hand with the decline of Tianguis, which lost credibility thanks to the organizers lack of professionalism.
After 35 years, Acapulco has lost Tianguis. Not to take it out on Acapulco, which I have always loved because thats where I discovered the oceans immensity, but I say good riddance, since Mexico has other great destinations that would make a fine Tianguis host city.
It doesnt make sense to claim, as the government has done, that Tianguis was yanked from Acapulco based on the experience of other countries . The only major showcase the shuffles the host city around, which considerable success, is the United States, which every year designates a different host city, from New York to Los Angeles, from Las Vegas to Miami or Orlando, and from Nashville to San Francisco, Denver or New Orleans.
The other three, Fitur, LTM and ITB, are always held in Madrid, London and Berlin, and their organization and superb logistics make it difficult to think of changing venues. If it aint broke, dont fix it.
In Mexicos case, it was time to change venues for several reasons, not the least of which was the fact that Acapulco has become a truly dangerous place with the prevailing insecurity.
The basic point, of course is: What will the authorities do differently to regain the shows credibility in terms of a professional organization? In the past decade or so, the main complaint of foreign buyers (those professionals who come to Mexico not just to drink margaritas but to seriously engage in buying hotel rooms, airline seats and others) was that Tianguis lacked a professional system to bring buyers and sellers together.
So now, several cities are vying to become Tianguis hosts. In truth, there arent that many venues that can comply with one of the basic requirements, which is a convention center of at least 100,000 square feet to display travel product booths or stands.
The most obvious venues are Cancun and Guadalajara, but theres also Monterrey (admittedly, not a very pretty convention site but with sufficient infrastructure). My personal favorite is Veracruz, a tropical venue that offers just about everything, although the hotel infrastructure part may be a bit tight.
Other candidates could be a trio of Pacific resorts, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Ixtapa, and if you stretch it a little, maybe even Huatulco, which could be lagging in flight frequencies. Naturally, we must not forget Los Cabos, the most upscale of Mexicos travel destinations.
With a little imagination and logistics savvy, we could visualize colonial cities such as Puebla, Oaxaca and Morelia as Tianguis sites. The whole point of a travel trade showcase is to sell the nations travel product, and picking a charming location would serve that purpose very well.