The upcoming Mobile World Congress (MWC) month in Barcelona is set as the first test of how the global business events industry will soon return to the epidemic, with the release of a number of technological solutions to try to keep visitors safe.
The annual annual event – canceled last year – is one of the biggest in the industry, often attracting about 100,000 people as telecommunications companies showcase their latest products and executives come together to make deals.
While promoters will be offering internet access to people who want to live far away, they hope to welcome thousands of attendees from all over the world, including countries where the epidemic is still raging.
There will be a regular quick test of COVID-19, a digital badge that will provide local access, and an app for finding contacts in case of infections.
Live monitoring of the site will allow promoters to control the population at any location, while attendees will be required to wear face masks and continue on one-way routes.
Mats Granryd who is the director general of telecommunications GSMA said that they now see that it is time for us to get up and make a return visit, when we know it will not be the same as before, but at least it is a start.
The Spanish government is on board. It has agreed on special arrangements to allow travelers from countries where tourism restrictions still apply. Spain itself reported 33 COVID-19 deaths on Friday, the lowest since August.
But hosting an event remains a GSMA gambling thing. Major companies including Nokia, Nokia and Samsung will not be visiting in person, and attendance is expected to be less than half of the 100,000 average year.
“Talking to people in the industry, there is a real desire to return to physical activity, but it’s about time,” said Ben Wood, senior analyst at CCS Insight. “We will find out in the coming weeks whether the GSMA has made the right decision.”
The cancellation of the event of the was a major blow to the GSMA and forced it to lay off about 40% of its staff. A slow walk, or some cancellation, may mean more pain.
The GSMA decided in mid-January to continue with the MWC in Barcelona, with an event rescheduled in February in Shanghai as warmth.
“Shanghai was a test site. Could it be that you had a big show with masks, social media, and pre-tests? That was it, and we had zero charges,” Granryd said.
About 25 000 people have visited MWC Shanghai this year and more than 100,000 have watched online presentations. That was one of the first GSMA hybrid events, with online and in-person access.
The MWC online platform will be integrated with Microsoft products, allowing attendees to connect to video conference rooms.
“We can build some level of trust in visible meetings, but not if it’s a multi-billion dollar transaction, then you have to sit down and look each other in the eye, and that’s why we feel confident that this will be something,” he said.
While some are concerned that the lack of capital letters will reduce the conference’s appeal, small companies are looking to shine. More than 400 launches will showcase their latest products at MWC.
Danielle Royston who is the founder of cloud management companu TelcoDR said that this is a unique opportunity for small retailers to wake up and deliver their message and possibly become a major retailer in the future.
Royston took over one of the show’s largest venues, measuring 6,000 square feet after Nokia’s release.
TelcoDR, which has received a discount on discounted prices but is still paying millions of dollars, will have 30 advisory and / or investment initiatives to showcase their products at the booth.
He said that this is your chance as a small retailer. He also said that they were going back to the old way, next year.