Planning an event in Rio de Janerio was a task of a differing level to any other have I faced in the past!
When I was first told I would be going to Rio, I was excited. All day I was humming the now irritating song “At the Copa- Copacabana” by Barry Manalow. Rio was certainly on my bucket list of places to visit before 40. It had many iconic places to visit and tick off the list and the thought of winter sun made it even more appealing.
The first lesson I learnt about organising anything in Brazil is the timescale that we work to is not really the same there. I now understand why panic set in as to whether the city would be ready to host the Olympics in 2014 and then the FIFA World Cup. Nothing has a sense of urgency and the levels of corruption are embedded from the ground up. I found their speed of reply in the early stages of planning painful. I could be waiting 2-3 weeks on a reply to email which in this day and age is not acceptable. When you need to confirm sponsorship packages, hotel rooms and exhibition space you want to make sure you have got what you need so you get down to the planning the execution.
When doing anything in Brazil be prepared that you have to pay for it. If you do not know anyone in Brazil then be prepared to pay a premium for it. They charge for everything and anything. A new one on me was having to pay for a licence to have an exhibition stand. Never mind that you have already paid the organisers a fortune for the stand space this is an extra. The best bit yet is how you obtain this licence. You have to visit the Rio de Janeiro State Department of Finance, an office in Central Rio which is only issues permits on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Oh but hooray if you don’t live in Brazil then for the sum of $200 a lovely local company can do it for you. What a complete joke!
The next drama faced in Brazil was the transport of materials out there. They have a charge for everything and even my very experienced transport colleague had never seen the likes of it before. The price to transport our good was around £9000 more than we would usually pay and even our usually shipping contacts couldn’t help us. We were forced to use the preferred supplier that the congress had assigned as they were the only ones that the customs team in Brazil would deal with apparently!!! The import charges where outrageous and the demands placed on us were previously unheard of. We had to provide detail right down to where we purchased the TV and their country or origin! I have no idea where Curry’s source their products from so we took a guess that they were made in Korea as that’s where Samsungs factories seemed to be! My advice would be if you can avoid shipping do it. It is easier and less expensive to contract a company there to build you a stand from scratch and post your leaflets to the exhibition.
Another issue to consider is that to bring in any food products you need to apply for a licence at least 6 months in advance. This includes even promotion sweets and mints. Don’t be caught out by this as you could get your shipment held at customs for weeks and then returned at your cost!
Another tip is ensure that everyone travelling has the right paper work and immunisations. Brazil works on the premise that if you ask them to get a visa to enter your country then they ask you to get one in return. The UK doesn’t so that’s OK but as one of our colleagues found out, Australia do ask for visa’s. Check what passports people hold, as being a permanent resident is not the same as being a passport holder !!!!!!!!!
Finally I wanted to share with you a scam that I myself almost fell for – The Airport Taxi Scam
Even as an experienced travel you can be easy prey when you have come off a 12 flight at 6am in the morning. As the generally organised person I am I had booked a new transfer from the airport to the hotel as I didn’t want to be trying to get a taxi when I arrived.
As I walked out into the arrivals hall I could see lots of people with signs but I immediately didn’t spot my name. I pulled out my phone and pulled up the telephone number of the car company to call and seek out my car. In my somewhat dazed state I was preyed upon by a local con that I have now been informed is very common in Rio. A man approached me as asked me if I was waiting for my transfer. When I told him the name of the company he then proceeded to call them for me and passed me the phone. On the other end was second man speaking very poor English telling me there had been a problem and I should get a taxi which the original man could provide for me. Luckily, I came to my senses and looked at the man’s phone and noticed that the number he called was incorrect. As soon as I commented on this the con man took his phone and was suddenly nowhere to be seen. I looked around and saw a uniformed man with a sign of my name! Wow how lucky was I, the con is apparently these gangs prey on long haul flights and persuade you to take one of their taxis which they charge a premium rate for. The lesser travelled person would easily fall for this, especially if like me they are tired and jetlagged. Lesson learnt from this is if you have booked a legitimate transfer they will be there and if you are going to contact them do it yourself and do not trust strangers to do it for you.
Hopefully this will help you have an easier time planning events in South America.