MWC Barcelona 2021 had only 5K visitors outside Spain

According to the several reports, MWC Barcelona 2021 had only 20K total visitors. This number is smaller than the estimation before the event, which was 50K visitors. This expectation (50K) is small compared to the number in 2019, which was more than 100K visitors. Therefore, this result means that organizers of trade shows still spend difficult time to adapt the new environment.

In addition to this, MWC Barcelona 2021 had only 5K visitors outside Spain. This result shows that people across the globe are still reluctant to restore their business trips. Therefore, trade shows should establish their new normal or keep their old style?

What is MWC?

The GSMA organizes MWC Barcelona, which is formerly but still commonly referred to as Mobile World Congress. The event is an annual trade show to dedicate primarily to the mobile communications industry.

Main venue of the event is the Fira de Barcelona Gran Via in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Before the pandemic, the GSMA held the event in February or early-March. What’s more, the main exhibitors are device manufacturers, network equipment providers, representatives of wireless carriers, and the press, among others.

Surprisingly, around 100,000 people attended the event before the pandemic, In fact, they could enjoy seeing the unveiling of upcoming devices by mobile phone manufacturers. Furthermore, the GSMA has extended the MWC brand to two other trade shows in Shanghai, China and Los Angeles, USA. The events are MWC Shanghai and MWC Los Angeles, respectively now. However, the brand remains most synonymous with the Barcelona event.

Who is GSMA?

According to its official page, the GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. In fact, the organization can unite more than 750 operators with almost 400 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem. It includes handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, and organizations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces the industry-leading MWC events held annually in Barcelona, Los Angeles and Shanghai.

Values of in-person socializing

As we know or experienced, the pandemic has changed our way of life a lot. Contactless payment or remote working is a good example. As a result, government in each country made a new law for remote working and Spain’ case is an example. In this sense, workers, companies and policy makers try to adapt the reality that keep people from socializing in person. Of course, it takes time, energy, and money sometimes, but it is a necessary step to establish a new standard.

How about trade shows? In this case, the situation is more difficult as the aviation industry does. It is true that a lot of people can attend the online events without restrictions of time and money. However, organizers of trade shows can earn more money by in-person event than online. Thus, the next question is how to restore in-person events?

The answer should have a strong correlation with the values of in-person socializing. Serendipity can be one of them, for instance. When we visit different places or meet different people, these experiences lead to new ideas or new imaginations. Online meetings or events sometimes narrow these opportunities down to few. Another value is that many people feel that they can socialize better in person than online. As a result, people can find more business opportunities.

Therefore, we can expect that much more visitors will attend MWC 2022!