Road to recovery: 20 000 delegates attend MWC (in-person!)

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Delegates at MWC 2021 This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Delegates at MWC 2021 This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

It was one of the first high-profile casualties of the coronavirus pandemic, but Mobile World Congress took its first step to recovery after welcoming 20,000 delegates to Barcelona.

The show made headlines in February last year when organisers GSMA, an international association of mobile operators, made a late call to pull the show as the virus began to spread.

The event typically attracts more than 100,000 people.

This year’s event, pushed back to June 28-July 1st, was hybrid and saw executives, exhibitors and, sponsors taking in keynotes, networking, visiting exhibits and, deal-making over four days.

"I am proud of the team for delivering a high-quality event in an extraordinarily complex environment. The pandemic has indelibly changed how we gather,” said Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA. “We had to develop new health and safety protocols and a hybrid platform but, we did it! It was only possible because of a community of support for which I am very grateful."

"I cannot tell you how delighted I am to be back,” he added. “I'm encouraged that thousands more joined us virtually. MWC21 created momentum and is helping us reimagine what events look like.”

The health and safety plan, Committed Community, was critical in bringing people together safely and, its elements were seen and felt everywhere. Approved by the Catalan Health Authorities, the plan was developed for the event and delivered in partnership with Quironprovencion.

"We have a new appreciation for the value of human connection and, for me, being together again at MWC21 in Barcelona has been inspiring," said John Hoffman, CEO, GSMA Ltd.

"Last February, we were faced with a fast-moving coronavirus and were the first organisation to cancel a large international event over health and safety concerns. Last week we reignited business by bringing together the mobile and adjacent vertical ecosystems at MWC21 in a safe and healthy environment. The dynamism of global circumstances meant that we had to evaluate and re-invent operational processes in partnership with our teams to make MWC a reality.”

The numbers

  • Over 20,000 people attended in-person
  • Around 100,000 unique virtual and daily viewers on MWC21 and partner platforms
  • Representation from around 165 countries and territories, 117 of those in-person
  • Over 1000 exhibitors, sponsors, and partners
  • Millions could tune into MWC21 content through global syndication via 1000+ national and international broadcasters
  • Over 50% of attendees were Directors
  • 1,500 CEOs and C-Suite executives among attendees, confirming once again that MWC brings together decision-makers

James Lancaster
Written By
James Lancaster

AMI editor James Lancaster is a familiar face in the meetings industry and international association community. Since joining AMI in 2010, he has gained a reputation for asking difficult questions and getting lost in convention centres. Proofer, podcaster, and panellist - in his spare time, James likes to walk, read, listen to music, and drink beer.

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