We received a note from a company promoting a 3D printing conference taking place in Venezuela, but I’m wondering what it might take to convince people to attend.
There are tons of 3D printing events taking place around the world these days. While only a few years ago such events were rare and held in only the largest world cities, now almost every city has a 3D printing event / conference / session of some kind.
And this means the events are taking place in locations that might pose some danger to visitors.
One of them might be the Expo 3D Venezuela, taking place in Caracas this November. The organizers describe the event as “the biggest 3D technology event in Latin America”. I’m not sure it really is, but they intend on hosting the three day event where they will cover a number of relevant industry topics and allow vendors to exhibit their products and services.
Organizer Eduardo Alvarez explains:
The main theme of the expo revolves around business models developed in 3D technology, additive manufacturing, VR and AR. Experts of business models related to additive manufacturing, AR and VR from the industry will be presenting and answering questions at this conference. Big names like Google and Amazon will also be attending.
Apart from informative seminars, the expo will provide a feasible opportunity to socialize and develop networks with the relevant people. A social area will be featured where cocktails and drinks will be available and a private business area which will be a platform to engage with existing and prospective business partners for further business opportunities.
It could be a very successful event, but there are some considerable obstacles to overcome when attracting people from outside the region. We briefly contemplated attending when asked, but two challenges emerged (well, a third would be budget constraints):
One is that this is a relatively small conference compared with the larger more well known events. If I’m going to spend money going to a conference, I want to see as much as possible. Similarly, exhibitors would want to see as many visitors as possible, particularly those who might buy their products.
The second challenge is the perception of safety. I found a number of rather scary advisories about travel to this country, and particularly Caracas:
From the US State Dept:
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Venezuela due to violent crime, social unrest, and pervasive food and medicine shortages.
Country-wide shortages of food, water, medicine, electricity, and other basic goods have led to social unrest, including violence and looting. Security forces have arrested individuals, including U.S. citizens, and detained them for long periods with little or no evidence of a crime. The U.S. Embassy may not be notified of the detention of a U.S. citizen and consular access to detainees may be denied or severely delayed. The detained citizen may be denied access to proper medical care, clean water, and food.
Oh oh, that doesn’t sound very appealing.
And from World Nomads:
The country has one of the top five highest per capita murder rates in the world.
Kidnappings have increased approximately 50 per cent from 2008 to 2009, and armed robberies are common.
Kidnappings of foreign nationals occurs from homes, hotels, unauthorized taxis and the airport terminal.
In recent years a frightening phenomenon called "express kidnapping" has emerged. These kidnappings are short-term opportunistic abductions, aimed at extracting cash from the victim.
Victims are normally selected at random and held while criminals force them to use their cash cards to empty their bank accounts. Once the maximum amount of money is extracted the victim is released. It lasts an hour, but it comes with the threat of or actual violence, and is terrifying, as well as really inconvenient to be cleaned out.
Carjackers tend to target expensive-looking vehicles, especially 4x4s. Armed gangs ram their intended victim's vehicle from behind, or attempt to flag them down in order to rob them.
Resistance to robbery has resulted in victims being shot dead.
Be aware well-armed criminal gangs operate widely, often setting up fake police checkpoints.
Travellers should be aware of chokepoints inside tunnels and avoid obstacles in the road.
Taxi drivers in Caracas are known to overcharge, rob or injure passengers.
There have been incidents where these flyers have been impregnated with potent and disorienting drugs that permeate the skin.
And believe it or not you will actually need to be on your guard the second you arrive in Venezuela. Even the airports and their surrounds are considered dangerous.
I don’t know how much of this is true, but there is much more if you care to read more deeply. Such information may discourage some - or many - from attending this event. More recently there have been significant protests taking place in the country due to government issues.
I commend the folks organizing this event, but they have an uphill challenge to draw those from outside Venezuela to participate. However, there’s plenty of people in Venezuela who might attend.