GSMA CEO John Hoffman ensures that the Mobile World Congress (MWC) will return to Barcelona in 2021, despite the pandemic, although “it will be a different event from previous editions”, with fewer visitors and rigorous measures security to avoid contagion.
In an article sent to the media, Hoffman explains that the GSMA employer, organizer of Mobile, works “tirelessly” with Fira de Barcelona, the City Council, the Generalitat, the Government and Tourism of Barcelona to make the celebration of the largest technology fair in the world a reality, which had to cancel its 2020 edition due to the coronavirus crisis.
“We have made significant progress to get to this point and now we are 100% focused on bringing the event back, in person, from June 28 to July 1 of this year ”, says the head of the GSMA, an employer association that brings together some 800 mobile phone operators and more than 200 technology companies from around the world.
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Now one year after the announcement of the cancellation of the 2020 edition, Hoffman points out that it was a difficult decision, that “it was not taken lightly”, and that at that time no one was aware of the real impact of the pandemic.
“If we were wrong, we would cause a deep disturbance and consequences for more than 2,300 exhibitors and more than 100,000 attendees, not to mention the impact on businesses, workers and the local community,” explains the manager, who underlines that, knowing what we know now, you can guarantee that the decision to cancel “was the right one.”
“The cancellation helped stop the spread of the virus in Barcelona and beyond, saving lives as a result,” remarks the CEO of GSMA, recalling that he received some criticism at that time, in part because the MWC was the first major international conference to hold it was suspended due to the pandemic.
However, events of all kinds were disappearing in subsequent weeks and months from the fair calendars around the world.
The GSMA itself has been forced this past year to transform some of its face-to-face events into virtual ones, but despite this success “something was missing”: “Something unique and stimulating like the face-to-face human connection, which we simply cannot digitally replicate. ”.
This in-person connection, Hoffman emphasizes, is what has made MWC Barcelona so successful.
“It has an unrivaled reputation as a place to do business, innovate and strike important deals. Barcelona’s incredible environment plays a very relevant role in all of this, and the city itself has become the Mobile World Capital for the international mobile and technology community, which has been received with open arms year after year, ”he explains.
Hoffman stresses that MWC 2021 will be rigorous with health and safety processes and that “unnecessary risks” will not be assumed.
In addition, it will combine elements of the Thrive digital platform “to create a truly hybrid event for those who cannot attend in person.”
John Hoffman argues that planning in a pandemic means managing a great deal of uncertainty, “but it is not insurmountable.”