Bigger and better
Jacques Arnoux is the founder of Pacific World, one of the most successful destination management companies in the Asia-Pacific region. Arnoux was born in Shanghai, grew up in France and moved in the early 1960s to Hong Kong, where he entered the MICE business in the 1980s. Pacific World is now based in Shanghai.
Q How has China’s MICE industry changed since you entered the business?
A China’s MICE industry has come a long way. When I operated my first group on the mainland in 1981, only a few people were running incentive programmes. My first programme was in Beijing. The concept of corporate and incentive travel was very new to everyone. There were barely any hotels or dining venues that could cater to large groups and the city’s infrastructure was also not ready to support any large MICE events. Today, it is a completely different story. Beijing and Shanghai now have full infrastructure in place to support events of any size.
Second-tier cities, such as Chengdu, Lijiang, Sanya and Xian, are also getting popular as destinations for MICE events. In recent years, these cities’ infrastructure and accessibility have also improved tremendously.
Q What are some distinguishing characteristics of MICE business in China?
A Four major things make China special for MICE events: size, diversity, history and a growing economy. Due to its size, China has so much to offer as a destination. In fact, it is not just one destination but many interconnected destinations rolled into one.
China is diverse not only in terrain, landscape and sights but also in its people, culture, cuisine, accommodation and the MICE infrastructure that every city can offer. With more than 4,000 years of continuous history, China has a lot of stunning historical venues to offer as sites for special events.
Q What are some trends you see for MICE developments in China?
A Although major economics across the world are recovering, we do not see budgets for incentive programmes returning to pre-crisis levels. There are still big incentive programmes but clients are more careful with how they spend those budgets now. Their expectations are getting higher. In China, a luxury experience is always expected.