Oscar Cerezales, Chief Operating Officer, MCI Group Asia Pacific; Chair of Incentive, Conference & Event Society (ICESAP) Advisory Board and also Director, Board of Trustees of Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) shares his vision for the future of the convention industry.

Interviewed by Rochelle Uechtritz

“In my opinion AEG Convention Centres are becoming class leaders when it comes to marketing and sales, risk management, quality of internal services and venue design,” Oscar Cerezales, COO, MCI Group Asia-Pacific

Tell us about your career journey

Born in Barcelona, Spain in 1972, the meetings industry has been a part of my life for more than 25 years. From a consultancy background with the largest marketing/event agency in Spain (GP) as National Director, an opportunity opened to be a part of the convention centre management unit at the CCIB Barcelona, and my career has developed from there.

“It is my passion to support the growth of the industry. In addition to my role as COO Asia Pacific for the MCI Group based in Singapore, it is my honour to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees for PCMA, Chair of Singapore Mice Forum, Chair of ICESAP Advisory Board as well as Member of the Scientific Board for the Latin American Association of Convention Bureaus.”

Previously, my honorary positions have included being a member of the PCMA Board; Board of Directors for European chapters of MPI International; as well as the SITE Latin America Board. I have been a Professor at Universities in Barcelona, London and Milan. In addition to collaborating with various industry publications, I am also member of several international destination advisory boards.

“And the most important part is that I am married, the father of three children. I love nature and endurance sports such as trail running, triathlon and ultramarathons.”

Expand on your role with the MCI Group

The MCI Group is dedicated to the organization of congresses and corporate events, consulting and strategic management for companies and associations with 61 offices in 31 counties and 2,400 talents. MCI Group organizes more than 6,000 projects annually with a turnover of more than EU$450 million.

After running the association business development business unit for MCI based in Europe, I relocated to Sao Paulo in Brazil to manage MCI throughout the Americas.

I do not let “the grass grown under my feet” and the Asia Pacific region held excellent potential for the expansion of MCI, therefor, in 2012 I relocated my family to Singapore to oversee the Asia Pacific region.

What do you believe are the strengths of our meetings industry?

In my opinion, the top three are:

  1. Our industry is a platform for knowledge, commerce and innovation
  2. An amplifier for economic and non-economic impact and legacies
  3. A relevant tool for governments, associations and corporations when it comes to create, grow and engage communities

Revolutionary events such as: Web Summit (www); TED (ideas); Unbound (startups); C2 (innovation-creativity); Skift (tourism) are increasingly becoming platforms for innovation and knowledge exchange, that destinations are inspired to compete for.

After years of education, it is enlightening to see how Governments and Economic Development Agencies are becoming more and more involved in business events as a way to develop growth.

What do you see in the future for the meetings industry?

A number of things come to mind such as;

  • Consolidation
  • New business models being tested across the value chain
  • Completely new Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO) strategies
  • Event fragmentation
  • Exponential growth in number of events
  • More talent without hospitality, tourism or events background joining the industry adding diversity and fresh ideas
  • Different insource/outsource models for all of us

Share your passion of training and education of the youth.

We all should be obsessed with learning and development. Not only for young professionals or new team members but for all of us.

“We all need to understand that perhaps the traditional approach to Learning and Development (L&D) may not be working anymore.  The traditional hospitality/tourism/events degrees are not supporting the required skills for what the future of the convention  and events industry needs.”

Creating the right L&D programs where soft skills goes over hard skills. These programs have to be embraced from our education system (i.e. Universities), our industry associations and certifications and, of course, at the core of our companies.

“Engaging the youth has always been a challenge, primarily because our industry has been included in the tourism/hospitality vertical. But in reality, Business Events is not about tourism but economic development.”

The way to engage young professionals is to show them the value of the industry, its evolution and direction. Industry organisations have to “walk the talk”, by empowering young professionals, and give them the right opportunities.

Please share your experiences with AEG’s Convention Centres and their teams

We have organised many events with AEG. Our experience so far has been excellent and I am sure we will be working again and again with AEG’s Convention Centres and their professional teams.

“When you partner with an organisation like AEG you seek global expertise, peace of mind, transparency and quality, before, during and post event. 

As an organisation, MCI prize knowledge sharing, youth education, sustainability and innovation. What’s important is that AEG share these values too.” 

What do you believe is the AEG Advantage when using AEG’s Convention Centres?

Basically, I see three distinct advantages for using AEG Convention Centres;

  1. Consistency – operationally, process, sales, delivery
  2. Product quality – world-class convention centres
  3. Innovation – I feel that AEG is testing and developing new ideas significantly faster than the competition

At AEG’s Convention Centres, quality assurance and standards are critical to the path of success, please share their importance in the decision-making process?

This is no longer “a nice to have” but “a must to have”. At MCI, we deal every day with large corporations, governments and associations. We require quality assurance, but our customers do as well. We are seeing a distinct trend where these standards are making a difference to the decision-making process.

“At MCI, our internal process combines a common analysis of risk variables and specific variable ones by event type. Among all variables venues internal processes count among the top three. Venues with no risk management procedures are a ‘no go’.”

Describe your experience in the Sultanate of Oman, as part of the PCMA Oman Advisory Summit

In one word – awesome!

“To me, the destination of Oman was a complete (and great) surprise. We had an excellent group of global association experts from varied industries, in a unique destination, the opening of a ‘state-of-art’ Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre operated by AEG – the experience opened my eyes to a new world of potential.”

Oman is eager to draw upon the experience of global experts. The level of interaction, the eagerness to learn, the number of questions and conversations during the summit and the workshops were certainly well above average, compared to other emerging destinations.

“Oman set a new benchmark. The large presence of Omani Government Ministerial Leaders and members of Omani Societies was outstanding. The vigorous and energetic dialogue cemented the country’s earnest commitment to the growth and  education of the business events industry from the highest levels.”

I found it prescient that Oman had established professional associations in all fields that are actively involved in global organisations – another significant difference from other emerging convention destinations.


For more information, image requests or media interviews, please connect with:

Rochelle Uechtritz, Director, International Market Development AEG Convention Centres

P + 61 400 253 392

E ruechtritz@aegworldwide.com

1st November 2017