How can we get more accurate global statistics?eIn 1989, I read in a national newspaper that it was estimated that in the UK about £250m a year was spent on conferences and meetings. This sum seemed pathetically understated to me, but how could I determine its real value?
I dug around and, for example, received information from the major airlines on how much was spent with them by business groups. From major hotel chains I got an idea of how much group events contributed to their revenue and I sent a questionnaire to the readers of ITCM and asked how much their companies spent on MICE events each year.
I was thus able to arrive at a very different estimate of the spend within the MICE sector in the UK. I published this in ITCM and, very satisfyingly, the next time that same national newspaper quoted an estimate of MICE business it was my figure of £3.5bn!
The estimate was now well over 100 times more than previously believed!
However, the British Government later set up BVEP – The Business Visits & Events Partnership. In 2010 this body reported that the total estimate of the value of MICE to the UK economy was £36.1bn – ten times more than my estimate!
Business Events, said BVEP, provided work for 530,000 people.
The BVEP broke the sums down as: Conferences and meetings - £18.8bn, Exhibitions and trade shows - 9.3bn, Incentive travel - £1.2bn, Corporate hospitality - £1bn, Outdoor events - £1bn, Festivals and cultural events - £1.1bn, Music events - £1.4bn and Sports events - £2.3bn.
Current estimates suggest that the total will rise to £48.4bn by the year 2020.
Recent interviews published by ITCM Website have quoted Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the German Convention Bureau, as saying that MICE turnover is growing rapidly and that Germany hosts 3m meetings, attended by a total of over 300m delegates.
Khun Supawan Teerarat, V-P Strategic and Business Development at the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), told ITCM that there have been 940,000 MICE visitors to Thailand during 2013, adding US$2.57bn to the economy - with an expected revenue growth for 2014 of 10%.
Cities, provinces, national governments are always swayed in favour of those sectors that can quote the largest sums of money. When it comes to infrastructure, planning permission and the allocation of national funds the sharing-out depends very much on the Return on Investment for all these organisations.
The MICE sector would be well rewarded if there were a global approach to establishing effective means of quantifying the contribution that business events make to the economy of nations and of the world in terms of revenue and jobs.
It is commonly accepted today that tourism is the world’s biggest industry. It is likely that an average of 25% of visitors are travelling on business. It is also accepted that conference delegates spend about 2.5 times more per day than a holidaymaker. How can we identify more accurately the contribution to the welfare of the world made by MICE events?