An interview with Charles Beaudouin, CEO of COGES Events, Co-Organiser of EXPODEFENSA 2021
Charles Beaudouin is the CEO of COGES Events and the Co-Organiser of EXPODEFENSA 2021, which will take place in Bogotá, Colombia, 29 November-1 December.
Mönch Online News (MON): How difficult has it been to persuade companies to participate during the uncertainties caused by the pandemic?
Charles Beaudouin (CB): COGES Events has already successfully organised two ‘live’ events this year: the Platinum Security Exhibition in Monaco and ShieldAfrica in Côte d’Ivoire. Expodefensa will be our third ‘face-to-face’ show. As the organisers of internationally renowned events, we consider it our responsibility to be at the forefront of economic reactivation for the defence and security community – we must therefore be resilient, adopt appropriate measures to protect the safety of our participants – including masks, social distancing, and the re-design of stands and aisles – constantly communicatinf and being as flexible as possible. Expodefensa’s venue is bio-safe, certified by Bureau Veritas with the international SEFEGUARD label, and with a CHECK-IN biosafety certificate issued by the Colombian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism.
After more than a year full of online events, exhibitors and visitors alike look forward to face-to-face contact – we have heard that loud and clear from our exhibitors – despite the benefits of digital meetings, live discussions, real-time business, product showcasing and communication simply cannot be replaced. We are noticing a trend among loyal exhibitors and National Pavilions – many of them are coming with bigger stands this year. It’s a sign that business must go on!
MON: What innovations are you considering? Will there be a digital or online dimension to the exhibition?
CB: We are monitoring the situation closely and are constantly evaluating new services to make Expodefensa a better experience for our participants. To date, evolution of the pandemic and global progress in vaccination campaigns do not justify changing the real-time physical participation in the show. This is especially true in defence and security, where privacy, direct observation of products, conferences and meetings with official delegations are extremely important. The aim of Expodefensa is to adapt an international offer to regional demand. While a considerable number of delegations come from Latin America, most exhibitors are international, from Europe, Asia and the Americas. We have to find a space where they can all meet in real time, without time differences or substitute solutions. It is crucial for us that our exhibitors make the most out of their participation and make sure professional visitors and delegations are present to meet them, otherwise it would be a waste of time and investment! This has always been our guideline in all the shows we organise.
MON: How do you view regional market evolution?
CB: Latin American countries have been growing steadily for the past decade. 2020 was a blow to many countries, but the IMF and the World Bank are forecasting high percentages of growth for 2021 in the main Latin American economies. Consequently, military and security spending have increased, with governments engaging in vast acquisition programmes, notably to face new challenges posed by the pandemic.
Countries in the region are perfectly aware that short-term solutions are not enough to support their growth and help their population sustainably. They know that there is no economic bounce-back without a strategic allocation of resources. This encompasses being able to control your territory, ensure the safety of your cities, infrastructures and population in order to create the conditions to attract investment.
MON: What do you expect to be the ‘hot topics’ of discussion at the show?
CB: The Covid-19 pandemic led to significant deployment of security and safety assets in the region to face the new challenges it raised – through migration, development of gangs and criminal organisations and challenges to stability from hostile forces. This will certainly be a subject of many discussions at conferences and workshops during Expodefensa.
More broadly, topics such as border protection solutions, management of natural disasters, cybersecurity, safe cities, private security, intelligence, simulation and training, interoperability, maritime and fluvial control – are all more and more in evidence at Expodefensa, alongside the more traditional regional issues. So, you will find increasing solutions and companies offering equipment and products in these sectors, ready to discuss them during Expodefensa.
MON: What is the single most important reason for a) exhibitors and b) visitors to participate in Expodefensa 2021?
CB: There are many reasons for both to attend. I would say for exhibitors, it is to get access to the continent’s markets or to continue to generate business with Latin American and Caribbean countries. Expodefensa is the main event in the region in 2021, and is hosted in a country known for its involvement and engagement in the defense and security sectors. It is co-organised by COGES Events, and people who have attended our other international shows know how much time and effort our teams dedicate to making sure our participants actually meet qualified delegations and buyers to do business. Expodefensa is a great opportunity for them to boost their network.
For visitors, I would highlight the fact that Expodefensa 2021 is one of the few ‘live’ defense and security events at the international level taking place in 2021, accessible to participants from all over the world in a perfectly bio-safe environment. Visitors can derive great benefit from Expodefensa by discovering new equipment and suppliers, as well as the latest technological innovations offered by international and Colombian companies. Delegations will have tailor-made schedules and be accompanied by our official officers during their entire stay at the show, in order to fully meet their needs.
For a brief video highlighting the scope and nature of Expodefensa 2021, click here: