Destinations

As Guadalajara Moves to the Next Chapter

An interview with Gustavo Staufert, CEO of Guadalajara Visitors & Convention Bureau, reveals the city’s evolution as a conference destination. From setting the example of what collaboration can achieve to joining BestCities Global Alliance, Guadalajara takes safety, sustainability and legacy creation for association conferences to new levels.

What attracted you in joining BestCities Global Alliance?

When Bogota decided to leave the Alliance, the spot for representing Latin America was empty and we were a good fit. What we found the most impressive was our alignment to the extent legacy creation should be part of conference organizing. It was something we were already working on our own, expanding the public policy in difficult areas in order to improve the way of life for our communities. 

When BestCities presented concrete legacy activities and ways to choose conferences which can make a difference, we realized that our goals are common. The fact that we won the Gay Games in 2023 is testament to our commitment to this goal. We can teach our citizens to celebrate differences without quitting or renouncing their beliefs. Through this event we want to convey to our city and to the world the message that humanity goes beyond preferences, that everyone is accepted the same. 

Can you share other events you are building legacy around?

On the one hand we are hosting Gay Games and on the other we have major sports events coming up. The FIFA Cup in 2026 will take place in three different countries for the first time – Canada, USA and Mexico. FIFA are currently focused on the promotion of human rights. Getting together with 16 destinations from three different countries in order to preserve culture, improve human rights, present to the world what collaboration can achieve, that is legacy. 

The same goes for Talent Land, an event for young talent development. By getting together with big IT companies, like Intel or IBM located in the area, the new generations find a way to join the working force and create their own legacy from a very young age with new ideas and developments. Communicating that economics are very important, that environment and climate change are always a hot topic, is obviously crucial. But the expansion and improvement of humanity and society within our borders and outside of it also play a major role in building a better world.

Gustavo Staufert

How does sustainability fit in your plans looking forward with BestCities?

We decided to show our progress with Intermoda, an important fashion show for Guadalajara. With two trade shows a year in an industry not famous for its sustainability output, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to showcase what our efforts can achieve. From venues to materials used for the show, sustainability will be at the core of the event. The hope is to educate all stakeholders within the industry and expand these learnings into other industries.

We decided to show our progress with Intermoda, an important fashion show for Guadalajara. With two trade shows a year in an industry not famous for its sustainability output, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to showcase what our efforts can achieve. From venues to materials used for the show, sustainability will be at the core of the event. The hope is to educate all stakeholders within the industry and expand these learnings into other industries.

Do you align conference bidding with strengthening your key economic sectors?

By all means. We are working very close with areas of the economy that can benefit from and can be fruitful for visiting conferences. Our focus is anything that has to do with technology, education, medicine, laboratories, and literature. As the World Book Capital with the second largest book fair worldwide, we are now bidding for the World Editors conference, which I am confident we will win. Gastronomy is also a big part of our focus in an attempt to show how the mixture of concepts from the Spaniards and the Muslims formed the Mexican cuisine.

Can you explain what the ‘Guadalajara Factor’ is?

It all started two years during a conference with other Latin American countries. Representatives were circulating this term, the ‘Guadalajara Factor’, asking what the secret was behind our (i.e., the private sector, hotel owners, hotel chains, malls, convention centres, the airport, and state authorities) successful crisis management regarding business events during COVID. We were not aware of the term, it was not something we created, it came from the ‘competition’, which makes it so much more important for us. 

What the concept describes is the collaboration of all stakeholders to create a safe environment to help the economy and at the same time respect human rights and health. The University of Guadalajara also jumped in the discussions and started putting together roundtables on how to hold conventions and exhibitions safely. Our work paid off because in the fall of 2020 we had the fashion show and a mining convention. We focused on things which are key to a successful conference: we worked hand in hand with the organizers and understanding their needs, with hotels and restaurants to adapt to the needs of the pandemic, focused on health and safety with regulations across the sectors, and reported the true numbers to the authorities for better organization. These four points kept us in business and that is what others now call the ‘Guadalajara Factor’.

Contact: ligia.gonzalez@gdlmidestino.com / guadalajaramidestino.com

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