MICE specialists convened at Web In Travel’s
“Business Event Forum – Time for New Thinking,” session at ITB
Asia in Singapore last week. Many ideas surfaced in the session
chaired by industry veteran, Elizabeth Rich, Chief Executive,
Business Events Council of Australia.
Asked to name major changes that have had
significant impact in recent years, Melissa Ow, Assistant Chief
Executive, Business Travel & MICE Group, Singapore Tourism Board,
said it had to be Web technology, i.e. Web 2.0, and the
proliferation of blogs and wikis.
Sandra Chipchase, CEO of the Melbourne
Convention and Visitors Bureau (MCVB), said it was the importance
of measurement tools. “It takes both the destination and the value
proposition to win and keep events,” she said.
Robin Lokerman, Managing Director, MCI Asia
Pacific, mentioned that 60% of adult learning takes place
post-school, and much of this is through educational and other
events. He said there are three areas of the meetings industry to
consider: human resources, marketing and communications, and
On the corporate user’s side, Michael Molloy,
Director, Corporate Real Estate and Services, Credit Suisse, said
there is more scrutiny of events, with checks on expenses by the
US Securities Exchange Commission, for instance, stricter internal
company regulations in medical, IT and financial services, and
within the industry, such as pharmaceuticals.
Among other observations - hotels want
association meetings when other business goes down. For instance,
many corporate meetings were cancelled but the association segment
has not been hit so hard.
MCVB found that although UK, Europe and USA
business was down, Asian incentives were still going to Australia
and Melbourne. Likewise, STB saw Asian companies that use
incentives also continuing with their programmes, because they had
to reward sales people who delivered on targets set before the
Malloy said the size of the pie had shrunk
because American and European business had “dried up”, but Asian
companies were expanding and might even supplant US and Europe in
meetings and incentives volume in time.
Lokerman said MCI detected strong confidence
returning to the market. Although 2008-09 has been flat, MCI’s
2010 business is 20% more than has been the trend for this time of
Melbourne had 15-20% growth per annum in the
last five years for events. For Singapore, the business
travel-MICE share of tourism receipts has grown from 30% in 2005
to 35% in 2008.
On new venues and ways of doing business, one
delegate asked about using universities and non-traditional venues
for conferences. While panelists were receptive to the unusual, a
PCO commented that the rigid procedures of educational
institutions and other such properties deterred planners and
From the green or social responsibility angle,
Malloy said Credit Suisse had reduced significantly the amount of
folders and papers for corporate meetings by putting all documents
on USB sticks.
Instead of gifts, MCVB asks speakers to nominate
a charity and the convention bureau will then donate the amount to
Lokerman shared how MCI selects “green”
destinations and venues:
* What is the destination’s green position?
What is the venue’s green policy?
* What is the hotel’s green
* Supply of local vs imported food and water served in
jugs instead of plastic bottles
* Is bus transportation really
required? Can delegates walk or be given travel cards instead?
* For exhibitions, can items, especially carbon-based compounds,
* Limit the amount of printed materials handed out
* What is the overall office policy toward CSR and sustainability?
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