10 Tips for planning a Safe Meeting South of the Border (Mexico)

MexicoMapMore and more, our clients are seeking out Mexico as a top option for their incentive travel programs, product launches and Annual Conferences. And why not? With magnificent beaches, ancient ruins, spectacular resorts, and hot deals year-round, Mexico offers options that appeal to everyone. But while Mexico is known as one of the great travel destinations of the world, it is also singled out for violent crime. This has caused us to explore the facts and deliver real information to our clients so they can rest assured about their choice destination.

The truth is that sporadic violence does occur along parts of the U.S. border; however, the majority of Mexico’s key tourism areas are not only safe, but safer than many other popular tourism areas. According to the State Department’s latest advisories, 12 of Mexico’s 31 States have no associated travel warnings. The green lighted states include the most popular travel destinations such as Cancun, Mexico City and Los Cabos. While drug-related violence is a real problem in Mexico, the homicide rate of U.S. citizens in Mexico under all circumstances was 113 in 2011 and 71 in 2012 according to the US Department of State. This homicide rate is lower than the rural U.S. States of Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, North Dakota, West Virginia and several others. The State Department also states that Mexico City is 4 times safer than our own Washington, DC.

As with travel to any foreign destination, you should always stay up-to-date with crime alerts and health warnings before your group’s departure date as well as throughout your time in Mexico. The U.S. State Department’s website, is an excellent resource for this. Some sound advice when planning a meeting in Mexico is:

  1. Be especially careful in border cities such as Tijuana and Mexicali, especially at night.
  2. Avoid the states of Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, Sinaloa, Veracruz and Cuernavaca for meetings.
  3. Encourage attendees in bordering US States such as Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico to fly in to the meeting destination instead of drive regardless of the distance.
  4. Plan evening events on property and use the day time hours for exploring and venturing out.
  5. When planning offsite activities, ask the resort for recommended ground transportation companies, and confirm that they travel on toll roads as much as possible.
  6. Learn a few key essential phrases is the native language (Spanish in this case), and include those in the final travel packets you send to attendees.
  7. When planning menus, it is still recommended that you request only bottled beverages and avoid including uncooked foods such as salad.
  8. Recommend a light packing list and leaving valuables at home. This could also save on baggage handling fees and liability concerns.
  9. Ask attendees to send you a copy of their passports during the registration process.
  10. Consider under-clothing money belts in your pre-travel care packages.

According to Todd Bludworth, COO of American Meetings, “Planning ahead is key, and luckily that is what corporate meeting planners do best.”  Safe travels!

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