Spoilt for Choice
The booming MICE industry in Asia has led to an increase in the number and size of specialist exhibitions. However, exhibitors are now more careful in choosing which events to participate in following reductions in corporate spending and economic uncertainty.
"The exhibitors have to consider the nature of the exhibition in the first place - whether it is business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumers (B2C)," says James McKenzie, event manager of MICE Asia-Pacific Exhibition 2016, which will take place at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore on September 21 and 22. "If the exhibitors are looking for developing business opportunities and to expand their professional network, a B2B exhibition would be more suitable."
McKenzie says exhibitors who are interested in B2B will find the MICE Asia-Pacific Exhibition 2016 an effective way to promote business. "We are the only show in Asia that solely focuses on the buyers and the sellers of the MICE industry, and we bring together the event organisers, meeting planners and professionals from across the world," he says.
This year's show will emphasise ideas sharing and learning, so complimentary conferences and workshops will be included. Another highlight will be the MICE Asia-Pacific Award, which encourages event professionals dedicated to the industry to continue bringing innovative ideas. Seeing the importance of event technology in the MICE industry, the company will co-host Event Technology Asia 2016 and Meet the Buyers sessions, an invitation-only event to provide a platform for networking and business exchanges.
Last year, the event attracted more than 80 exhibitors and 2,000 visitors to Suntec Convention Centre, though Singapore's general election on the second day probably affected attendance. This year's show aims for more than 100 exhibitors and 4,000 attendees.
In Hong Kong, the International Travel Expo Hong Kong and the MICE Travel Expo (ITE & ITE MICE) at the Convention and Exhibition Centre from June 16 to 19, remains the largest specialist event for the industry.
K.S. Tong, managing director of the organiser TKS Exhibition Services, says exhibitors have different reasons for participating in trade shows, such as whatever their target markets may be, and should choose the events that can realise these aims. Tong says ITE & ITE MICE is the only event of its kind in the Pearl River Delta to focus on business (ITE MICE) and leisure (ITE). "Exhibitors face some common issues such as how to capture the affluent FIT markets, so they generally prefer to join events that offer better business potentials with both quality trade and public visitors," he says.
Tong says ITE & ITE MICE provides a one-stop platform for exhibitors to conduct trade promotions and channel sales on the trade days - the first two days are restricted to trade visitors - while conducting mass promotions and direct sales on public days. "This co-locating arrangement also means more exhibitors and destinations, which is more attractive to MICE visitors."
Tong says despite shrinking budgets of many overseas tourism boards, which organise group tours, ITE & ITE MICE has remained stable in size. Last year, the combined show occupied around 160,000 sq ft of space, and attracted 607 exhibitors from 50 countries and regions. The two trade days drew 11,900 buyers and trade visitors; while the last two days lured 78,100 public visitors.
Eco-tourism and driving tours will be added to the existing themes of overseas weddings, sport, cruise, travel photography, and wellness.
With China becoming an important source of MICE visitors, some global trade shows have launched China editions of their events, such as the ibtm china (incentives, business travel and meetings expo China) at the China National Convention Centre in Beijing on September 7 and 8.
Cici Chen, senior project manager of ibtm china (cibtm), says cibtm is the only event to offer a mutual match programme. "This new technology matches appointments according to the preferences of exhibitors and buyers. They can choose who they want to meet to ensure every business appointment is relevant. Appointments mean business, and business means return on investment, which is our key objective for all attendees."
Last year, the event attracted a record 5,000 international industry professionals. More than 7,000 business appointments were arranged between 400 hosted buyers and 365 exhibitors. That figure is expected to reach 9,000 this year.