valparaisoI just returned from the 2008 Latin American User Conference in Santiago, Chile. It was a great trip and an excellent event. ESRI Chile hosted a well-organized conference, the attendees were very focused and interested, and everyone was very welcoming. Most of the ESRI Distributors I met seemed very progressive, and there appears to be lots of good work going on in the region with ESRI technology.

My Spanish proved even less effective than anticipated. I quickly realized the most pragmatic way to manage expectations around my language abilities was to simply claim to have no knowledge whatsoever. This meant that having Fernando of ESIMEX there with me was of immense additional value, and aside from translating my presentation on Friday to a standing room only audience (which wouldn't have happened if I'd presented in English), he delivered numerous demos and was able to answer questions about who we are and what we do.

esri chile 2There seemed to be considerable interest in our technology. Unfortunately, for the first time ever at a conference, we ran out of both Spanish and English marketing materials on day three (despite having, as always, 50% more than we thought we’d require based on the number of attendees). We had a hard time getting more printed locally on short notice.

Prior to the conference, I took a few days to tour the region. This included a long, steep hike in a national park that left me limping and wincing through the first two days of the conference.