Conference organizers getting focused in Latin America

Companies that host Latin American Internet and Technology events are having to work harder to make sure conference topics attract a strong audience.

Conference organizers in Latin America find you have to follow the market to remain successful in tougher times.

"The most important thing is focus and following the market," said Ivi Rapaport, Director of Sales at LatinVenture, a Miami-based company that is hosting a conference on Wireless communication in Latin America next week.

"The strongest things in the market right now in Latin America are technology and telecommunications, especially broadband and wireless," she said.

Attendance is down, she said, but organizers still expect more than 400 people to participate. Last year they drew a crowd of 600.

Vamos Wireless, scheduled for Feb. 12 and 13 in Miami, is just one of many conferences planned for the region. In April, LatinVenture will host a conference in Mexico on business technology. In May, they will host conferences in Argentina on telecommunications and in Brazil on broadband and wireless.

Rapaport said they haven’t planned any conferences beyond May because they want to wait and see what will become the next hot topic in the market.

LatinVenture’s success is a sharp contrast to news that Jupiter cancelled its Miami conference on Latin America e-commerce scheduled for Feb. 4.

The cancellation of Jupiter’s conference led some to question the viability of the industry as a whole, said Luca Graves, a Senior Analyst at Jupiter Media Metrix. But while Latin America suffers many of the same economic challenges as the US, there are still many business opportunities and conferences in the region, he said.

Jupiter is going forward with a conference in Brazil this fall and adding new speakers to the agenda that would have appeared in Miami.

International Venture Partners also continues to enjoy good attendance at conferences about Latin American Internet and technology.

"We organized one event in Miami and another in Chile, and for both we had very positive feedback," said Jason Miller, executive manager for International Venture Partners.

Latin America continues to be a good choice for investors, he added, even though Internet companies are not spending as much in the region as they were a year ago.

"What’s taking place in Latin America is the same thing that is taking place in the US," he said. Companies are more cautious about spending, but the market still has many opportunities.

A report by International Data Corporation (IDC) shows that IT company executives continue to bet on Latin America. The research study shows that in the region’s two largest markets – Brazil and Mexico –executives are more optimistic when it comes to the future of the Internet and business opportunities in the technology industry.

The biggest exception, according to the report, is Argentina where overall business confidence is down, overcast by an economic recession that hit the country in 1999. Yet despite challenges, 33 new Internet companies have opened their doors in Argentina since the beginning of this year, according to

Event organizers need to be more focused on what’s strongest in the market, said Andre Vanyi-Robin, president of the Miami Internet Alliance. Jupiter was planning a conference on e-commerce, but what’s driving the market right now is wireless and broadband.

"The Internet is the train," he said. "The convergence of wireless, broadband and Internet technology will continue to make Latin America a very juicy market for the next five to ten years."

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