Smartphone fair Mobile world congress was one of the first major events that will be canceled in 2020and drove home the severity of the pandemic.

Host city of Barcelona in Spain I felt the blow of losing 100,000 visitorswith the decision to pull it comes only 12 days in advance It was supposed to start on February 24th. It typically boosts the economy by $ 513 million and creates nearly 14,000 temporary jobs.

But it’s back this year and will be from June 28th to July 1st. Organizer’s Global Mobile Communications System (GSMA) takes every care to keep it running smoothly, and this might be the case in one industry Appointment of a business travel agent to calm the nerves of thousands of participants.

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Great Britain Gray Dawes Group provides travel-related advice and assistance regarding Covid-19 considerations and PCR testing; Travel documents and visa forms; Quarantine and border restrictions and travel routes.

The Colchester-based company is also hoping to get plenty of bookings, although the GSMA does too lists bnetwork as the official accommodation partner.

Scale down

In February, GSMA CEO John Hoffman became He reckoned with 40,000 to 50,000 delegatesHowever, the Gray Dawes Group reckons with 30,000. Either way, it will likely excel Madrid’s HIP Expotook place March 22-24, attended by 9,000 personal registrants.

The Gray Dawes Group originally planned to only support the 700 exhibitors on their travels. But then the organizers were asked about the delegates.

The annual Mobile World Congress is one of the largest events in Barcelona. Image: MWC

“The same process applies,” said Laura Busby, the sales manager. “How can you build trust, how can you get specific advice about the country you are traveling from and help with booking if necessary? The GSMA needed this expertise for specific travel advice. “

This type of partnership is a first for the Gray Dawes Group, but not for the faint of heart.

There is uncertainty about going to bed with mega-events that, due to increasing coronavirus cases, could shut down before they even start. The Gray Dawes Group also had to build a bespoke team, surround their travel agents and train them on all event details.

“It took me a long time to figure out how to build this, to find a bespoke solution to a complex problem, and to train the staff,” said Busby. “It is a good model if you are willing to invest that time and understand that you need to do things differently. This is not a cookie cutter. “

There is also a commercial risk – a lot of time has been spent taking calls from anxious delegates, and seven weeks to go there is no estimate of how busy things will get. Currently there is an average of two to five phone calls per person before a booking is made. Often times, callers want advice so they can book at the last minute.

While the agency considered setting up an online help desk, for people from so many countries they opted for a simpler solution: an email address and a phone number.

The back-to-basics approach speaks volumes about the value travel agents can offer. While the GSMA has its own corporate travel agency – a more technology-oriented competitor – it ultimately chose the Gray Dawes Group and its consultants because, according to Busby, it could trust the company.

“Confidence has been compromised and we really understand that,” she added. “This is new for events and for what we do. We are there to assist the tour guide. “

CWT Meetings & Events The company has seen a “significant increase” in activity at small in-person events and large hybrid global events, and is focused on traveler safety information.

“Although we do not normally support consumer events like the Mobile World Congress, we can offer all of our customers’ event delegates a comprehensive service that goes beyond mere logistics, procurement, booking, administration and coordination of meetings and events. Specifically, traveler safety information and guidance through our return to travel resources and the essentials platform for travel, ”said Chris Bowen, senior vice president and managing director.

This means providing up-to-date information on restrictions, procedures and travel requirements based on specific travel route details such as origin, destination, travel dates and nationality of the traveler.

Last year, 74,000 people around the world were connected through virtual and hybrid events.

A superspreader event in the making?

Many people will question the Spanish government’s decision to continue the Mobile World Congress given the growing number of cases in Europe. And this is a truly global event, after all.

Spain is bizarre lifting of standard travel restrictions for the event – but the logic here doesn’t make sense considering the delegates still have to fly home and are likely to face strict entry regulations.

“While currently every national from a country outside the EU is refused entry to Spain, there are exceptions for certain groups of people, including ‘highly skilled workers’. The Spanish government’s decision now includes MWC21 Barcelona registrants in this category, ”it said in a statement.

There is also a Committed community Event security plan, and attendees must show a negative Covid-19 test result, which the airlines will need anyway. “Extraordinary times require extraordinary security measures. It is for this reason that we have worked with our partners to develop a layered approach to safety that has been approved by the Catalan health authorities, ”the company said.

The Gray Dawes Group could still fail, but Busby said the agency understands that it is closely following each country’s government guidelines.

Spain wasted no time Revitalization of the events sector alongside the tourism industrySuch a high-profile step forward, perhaps, shouldn’t be too shocking. “At some point the world has to get going again. We loved the possibility that this could be a real success story, ”said Busby.

If successful, it will position corporate travel agents in a very favorable light, and partnering with mega-events this year and beyond could prove to be a lucrative, if unexpected, development.

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