MARTA CAMPOS / Director of BEC Meetings&Events
BEC Meetings&Events has closed a special 2020, conditioned by the pandemic. The director, Marta Campos, reflects on how the socio-sanitary situation has affected the sector and is optimistic about the beginning of the recovery. BEC has been a pioneer in organizing large-format events; for this, it has applied a strict security protocol, a reference for other exhibition centers, which has obtained the ICTE seal as a Safe Space. Adapted to the circumstances, BEC Meetings & Events looks to the future and offers confidence and support to clients so that face-to-face events return normally to the Basque venue.
– What is your assessment of this 2020 that has just ended?
We started the year with really good perspectives of activity, promising I would say. We had the MAN event for three months, with the worldwide presentation of its new truck; we welcomed Expocadena, which is also a very powerful exhibition in the hardware sector … In short, we had a very good start and suddenly …
– The pandemic arrived.
Exactly. Everything began to get out of whack and change. As I was saying, the first quarter of 2020 was very good; the second quarter was surrounded by uncertainty and thus we reached June. This month marked the return to activity with the HABE language profile exams, which allowed us to start doing things in such delicate times and to have a number of events that was bigger than in the rest of the sector nationwide. The truth is that HABE gave us enough experience to be able to face other challenges.
– This event was ground-breaking in the State for being of large format with 12,000 people and applying a meticulous security protocol. Was there a lot of work to draw up these measures?
There were countless meetings both with HABE and with our own BEC colleagues to establish the number of people who could enter the pavilion, the access protocols, how to organize the examinees in the pavilion, air renewal, auxiliary personnel … This made us make novel decisions, because we had no reference. The final result was the drafting of the Safe Space BEC protocol and the achievement of the ICTE Safe Tourism Certified seal.
– What feedback did you receive from that first event?
Satisfaction was generalized both by HABE and the Basque Government and by the examinees themselves. The feeling of security was great and that calmed them down a lot.
– Then other large-format events arrived.
Then we had the public job vacancies exams of the Ertzaintza, with 4,000 applicants, and a congress of LAB union, with 500 people; in addition to Desembalaje, which was one of the first face-to-face exhibitions in the State and it worked very well. Little by little we were applying our protocols and adapting to the new calls. But, in addition, we had to introduce new tools to our proposal, such as technical support for doing hybrid events, which we had not explored until then. Currently, we already have a complete offer of streaming services and data collection of online attendees, as well as online and mixed production.
– Being the first to organize these events, have other exhibition centers asked you for advice?
Yes, at the time we received some calls to find out how we had organized the exams and what our action protocol was like. We transmitted our experience to them and we have put in value something that is key for us: we have a highly effective air conditioning system that allows us to guarantee optimal air quality, generating an air-renewal even higher than recommended and 100% from the outside.
– Safety is essential.
What I am clear about is that events are possible. Our clients need to reactivate and get back together, as their business demands it after this strange year. In general, people are willing to do things as long as they feel safe. And in that sense, BEC offers all the guarantees to enjoy a safe event.
– How do you currently see the Conventions and Congresses sector?
The sector is quite touched, because it is true that we have had moments of absolute standstill, others of activity with many restrictions … We are constantly changing and companies have doubts about how and when to organize events; there is uncertainty of capacity and mobility, when we do not speak about lockdown. How does this situation translate? Well, in the confirmations of events at the last minute. We have noticed that in BEC. On the other hand, the events are local or national, because, at the moment, it is difficult to work with the international market. In this sense, we are resuming the events of regular clients, who are trusting us again. We offer comprehensive advice on current regulations and the protocol that will be applied at each time.
– Are you flexible when organizing events? Your cancellation policy?
It is obvious that flexibility is a very important element in dealing with our clients. We are aware of the circumstances in which we live and that affect us all. We have to be flexible, have alternatives, be decisive and have resources to offer clients depending on the setback that may have arisen, whatever the nature is. And if the socio-sanitary situation get worse, we will look with the client for new dates so that the event is not canceled and does not cause them any damage. If the event is not finally possible, we would look for a solution. In the end, people need to dare to do things without fear of cancellations.
– What perspectives do you have for next fall?
We are already closing enough events for those dates, although it is true that some of them have been moved from the first semester. We are expected to move forward, coming out of the pothole.
– Are you talking about face-to-face events?
Yes, of course, we already have some scheduled, and some of them are international. On the other hand, Bilbao is a fairly active city and we have to be aligned with our partners to close dates without coinciding with other events. In any case, I believe that we are at the beginning of the recovery, I am optimistic about the vaccination processes and the established protocols.