Business is arriving – but from different sourcesThere is a definite sense that the MICE sector is showing signs of recovery. At present it is mainly in terms of enquiries for events, but there have been some notably big pieces of business. The interesting pointer is that recent big contracts, especially for incentives, have come from the emerging markets.
The outstanding source is China and there is also lots of new potential in countries such as India, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia and Korea.
These nations have been thirsting to see more of the outside world. Their companies have prospered and can host large numbers of their employees on incentives to realise their travel dreams.
ITCM has already reported how a single Chinese company sent 14,500 of their staff on a 10-day incentive to Dubai.
It means, therefore, that destinations and hotels in many parts of the globe can tap very lucrative new markets. The question is: How best to get your message across to the new incentive organisers?
Precisely because the markets are new, the problem is more difficult. Where are the databases that provide lists of their MICE buyers? How costly is it to write or email to them? Which language do you use? If you promote to them in their own language, what do you do when they reply in that language? Can you cope with the response? ITCM has been researching into what different MICE destinations have decided to do to penetrate these emerging markets and we have found that different countries have different ideas.
One method is to set up promotion offices in the markets to make them very much aware of what the destination has to offer.
Switzerland can lay a claim to being the first national tourist office to have opened its own office in China. It has for many years had its own presence in different parts of India and has now established a new one in Singapore to serve the growing travel markets of South East Asia. They have staff identified as knowledgeable about incentives and meetings.
The tourism promotion body of Ireland believes strongly in having representation on the ground in the new markets, but thinks it best to use local representation companies to act on its behalf.
‘They have the local knowhow, the language, and the contacts’, says Jim Paul, Head of Developing Markets for Tourism Ireland. ‘It also means that we can set up more quickly and be ahead of the game. There is no doubt that Ireland is on the wish list of these new markets and we just need to provide the information and assistance on the spot that helps them to make their arrangements.’
Several countries, ITCM discovered, have just recently delegated a member of their tourism promotion staff to be responsible for the new markets and they are still in the process of deciding which markets to make a priority and how to tackle them.
Of course, ITCM has an axe to grind in this debate. In August 2014 our ITCM Website welcomed 40,000 Unique Visitors, which represented an increase of 71% over August 2014. Much of the increase is coming from the new MICE markets. China was Number 13 on the list of source countries two years ago. It is now Number 2 after the USA, with the UK Number 3.
The Chinese who visit the ITCM Website can be regarded as MICE professionals with a good knowledge of English, identifying them as a priority new market.