Buyers need highly selective informationITCM has assisted many destinations and venues to launch into the MICE markets over the 25 years since its inception in October 1988. We can look back and recall when present-day successes were just a germ of an idea.
One thread common to many of these assignments has been the false assumptions made by the newcomers to this sector. There’s no business like MICE business and it cannot be confused with holiday travel.
It is surprising how many people think that because they have been successful in selling holidays, then they know what event organisers require. Consequently, a Mediterranean venue offers them sea, sand and sun. A hotel in the Indian Ocean offers sand-bakes and torchlight parades to a beach barbecue.
Basically, they are thus spending money on telling their audience what it already knows. They make the mistake of assuming that foreign MICE buyers have the same level of knowledge as family holidaymakers.
In fact, of course, visitors to the ITCM Website are highly experienced and very widely travelled specialists.
So, what do they want to know?
In short, they want to be assured that venues and whole destinations are knowledgeable about MICE business. Organisers are not just trusting venues with a few days of their holiday time. They are placing in their hands the well-being of their most valued customers and agents and salespeople. They are trusting them with the prestige of their client companies and their own reputation as organisers.
We are generally talking of reputations literally worth millions of pounds per annum. Any problem that can be foreseen has to be foreseen and eliminated in advance.
Organisers want to be informed of the experience that DMCs, venues and destinations have in their recent history. They want to know that the equipment at their disposal is reliable, well-maintained and up-to-date. An essential is the communications system available, so that they and their guests and delegates can maintain high-level contact with their businesses back home.
MICE buyers are not thinking in terms of a picture postcard posted to the folks, but high-speed Wi-Fi.
Nowadays important boxes to be ticked are safety in the streets and hygiene in the hotel.
I recently did a site inspection of a hotel and found myself sharing the lift with families whose children were precariously balancing paper cups of scalding hot chocolate on the way up to their rooms from a free drinks machine in the lobby. I thought how this would have been a mark against any organiser booking an event into this property, even though the free drinks were an attraction for tourists.
And of course companies are now looking to assure their shareholders that their events are being held in green venues making the smallest possible impact on the ecology – and possibly making a valuable contribution to the welfare of the local communities.
Anyone offering services to MICE buyers should first check what their new potential clients really need to know. Preconceptions are dangerous.