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How Germany researched China as a MICE market

Matthias Schultze, GCB’s MD

Matthias Schultze, GCB’s MD, talks to Sydney Paulden

Germany is opening a MICE sales office in Beijing in September 2015. Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the German Convention Bureau based in Frankfurt, was in London for The Meetings Show, so I took the opportunity to ask him about how it was planned. Matthias was very forthcoming, but he did preface his remarks by saying that it was a typically German exercise. It was, therefore, thoroughly researched and took two years of detailed preparation.

Germany is Number One in Europe in the events league and Number Two worldwide. Their earlier research identified ‘megatrends’ in the MICE sector and the top two of these related to International and Technology. With future international business in mind, Germany had to take the closest possible look at China.

‘Important future feeder markets’, states Matthias, ‘are China and Russia. There is a German National Office in Beijing and also a German Chamber of Commerce. They gave us massive help’, says Matthias. ‘We studied the results of various areas of research and we found that Germany has a high reputation in China.’

The results of a Huawei Study in 20014 showed that the top three countries from the point of view of a positive attitude on the part of Chinese travellers were France (69% positive), Germany (67%) and UK (60%). This compared with results for other countries such as USA (51%), Russia (47%) and India (19%).

Currently, of all Chinese arrivals in Germany, as many as 40% are coming on business. ‘This’, Matthias points out, ‘is the highest proportion for any country source.’

Germany has been following a marketing strategy that identifies its own business and industry sectors that are leaders on the world scene and then goes out to find organisers of events in those sectors.

‘We have a lot to offer’, Matthias goes on, ‘in the fields of telecoms, automotive, pharmaceuticals, medicine and technology. Planners consider Germany because we can provide content in their sectors and enrich the event experience. We found that the Chinese business sector saw Germany as Number One in many of their areas of interest.’

Research also showed that Germany was a good match in terms of the services that Chinese travellers consider to be most important. These include free internet access, acceptance of Chinese payment methods and the presence of staff able to speak Chinese.

‘We are making sure that the Chinese market is aware that Germany can offer what is on its wish list,’ is how Matthias sums it up.

At the outset, the German MICE marketing office in Beijing will have only one local Chinese manager. ‘We will ensure that that person feels part of our team, with weekly Skype discussions and frequent visits to Germany to see how we do things and what we have to offer.

‘We see incentives from China as a good potential market, with the meetings market growing fast. And Germany, of course, has so much with which to create very attractive leisure programmes for delegates and their partners’.

“The evaluations of business travellers from China also showed that when it comes to the choice of hotel 59 % decided on a four-star hotel (32 %) or a five-star hotel (27 %), with a clear preference for international hotel chains (53 % in comparison to just 35 % in the survey carried out the previous year). 36 % of Chinese business travellers are below 35 years of age. The average expenditure of business travellers was USD 1,483 (RMB 9,159 RMB) per day.”

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