The Asia Pacific region is one of the fastest developing regions in the world and its MICE market is no exception. In the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) 2018 Country and City Rankings, it was revealed that Asia Pacific recorded its highest-ever annual figure for rotating association meetings taking place – a total of 12,937 – up by 379 y-o-y.
The region’s MICE industry generated revenue of $229bn in 2017 and is expected to witness the highest growth rate of 8.6% to reach $441.1bn by 2025*. With diverse cultures and cuisines, a reputation for being ahead of the curve when it comes to technology and ever-improving infrastructure, Asia Pacific is one of the MICE industry’s most vibrant regions.
Here we explore some of the cities, countries and trends that are behind the region’s MICE growth:
It’s no surprise that Singapore leads the pack. Ranking 8th in ICCA’s top 10 cities, Singapore also bagged top place in Cvent’s most recent list of top 25 Meeting Destinations in the Asia Pacific – 2018. As a major financial hub, the city is home to many of the world’s leading corporation and financial entities and benefits from a reputation for an orderly environment conducive to doing business.
In another show of confidence in the city’s strength as a MICE destination, IBTM recently announced the launch of its newest business events trade event – IBTM Asia Pacific, which takes place at Marina Bay Sands Singapore from 6 – 8 April 2020.
The Thai capital is having its moment in the spotlight, having shot seven places up the latest ICCA rankings to claim 10th spot. Unveiling latest results earlier in 2019, Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau noted several contributing factors that increased the revenue earned from the MICE industry, including the waiver of the visa-on-arrival fee for 21 nationalities, an expansion of airline services between Thailand and in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations area, plus an airport fast-track “MICE Lane Service” for international MICE travellers who were attending 45 events in Thailand.
With its heady mix of commerce, colour and culture, good infrastructure and high-quality venues, the city is a great option for business events.
In 2018 Taipei made its debut in ICCA’s top 20 and the city is on a major drive to continue to grow its MICE offer. MeetTaiwan has been successfully promoting Taiwan as a premier business events destination with innovative promotions to boost awareness of the region.
A great example is the organisation’s award-winning ‘Asia Super Team’ competition. Now in its sixth year, the competition sees foreign corporations competing to learn more about the multiple and diverse resources and landscapes that Taiwan offers through an interactive online and live competition. The winners participate in a four-night, five-day Final Tour, during which the teams then travel all around Taiwan.
The nation also employs more traditional incentives for hosting business events in Taiwan, including relaxed visa requirements enabling ASEAN travellers easier access to the country.
Technology over all
For all the talk about innovation in event design, many planners still think that technology will radically change how events are experienced and designed going forward, especially within Asia Pacific. IACC polled meeting and event planners from the region on their outlook on the evolution of their operations over the next five years.
Despite the global trend towards bringing authentic local experiences to attendees, those polled by IACC were more concerned about keeping up with the pace of technological change in event and experience design, predicting for example that not only will video streaming during presentations come into vogue, but virtual attendees and live streaming alike will also become more common.
Facial recognition, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and robotics are some of the other technologies proving a more popular proposition in Asia Pacific than elsewhere.
We need to talk about WeChat
With 1 billion monthly users, WeChat is China’s most important social media tool but it’s not just big in China. For companies doing business in the Asia Pacific region, mastering WeChat and learning how to make content that connects with its market is key to boosting business presence, including from across the MICE industry.
Worldwide, WeChat is the fifth most-used network, but throughout the Asian Pacific Rim, users spend more time on WeChat than Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat combined.
WeChat is opening up opportunities for the meetings and hospitality markets with the development of mini programmes, which are similar to apps, but quicker and take up less than 10MB in space.
For example, with the help of tourism boards, WeChat created audio guides to destinations from London to Dubai that highlight points of interest, attractions, and hotels and make itinerary suggestions—a helpful tool for delegates while visiting a new destination during a congress.
In addition to providing useful information that can assist with planning (and can benefit delegates during the programme), WeChat is opening up a new mode of communication that offers a huge amount of potential for businesses, and exciting new ways for them to engage and interact with customers.
* Allied Market Research