A strategic approach to MICE

Michael Alan Hamlin

Posted on August 27, 2008

By 2015, Singapore is targeting to generate US$7.5 billion from business travel and meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibits (MICE) to and in the city-state. To accomplish that goal, it has embarked on three key initiatives. First, it is fostering close collaboration among government agencies and industry partners to “create, grow, and attract business events” in value-generating sectors like biomedical sciences, ICT and digital media, environment and water technologies, banking and finance, transportation and logistics and tourism.

The Singapore government believes that making Singapore a global center for the exchange of information and research in these sectors will contribute to their development in Singapore. Second, it is investing in the development of events. Its “BE in Singapore ” initiative provides incentives to the MICE industry to attract, bid, and grow strategic business events. Third, Singapore is undertaking a multi-channel communications campaign to build its image as a leading global MICE destination.

Singapore is not alone in making MICE a strategic concern. Every major city in Asia is scrambling to capture a piece of this lucrative pie. The Philippine Asian M.I.C.E. Forum organized by the Philippine Association of Convention and Exhibition Organizers and Suppliers, Inc. (PACEOS) with the support of the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Philippine Convention and Visitors Corporation (PCVC) and the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA), will examine the latest trends, challenges and directions for the MICE industry.

The two-day forum will examine successful MICE venues in the region – Singapore is either number one or three depending on which survey you read – and how they are responding to increased competition regionally and internationally for major events. Representatives of select Asian countries will discuss their local MICE industry in terms of infrastructure, government incentives and value propositions meant to attract worldwide attention.

Philippines tourism secretary Joseph “Ace” Durano and Dexter Deyto, concurrently PACEOS president and vice president and general manager of SMX Convention Center, will open the conference. Featured speakers are a veritable Who’s Who of the regional MICE industry. They include Julia Douglas, managing editor of MICE in Asia ; Edward Liu, president of the Asian Federation of Exhibition & Convention Associations (AFECA) and concurrently president of the Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (SACEOS); Suprabha Moleeratanond, Director of Conventions, Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau ; Dr. K.P. Billy Ip, Assistant Professor and Coordinator of International Tourism of the Macau University of Science and Technology ; Daniel Corpuz, executive director of PCVC; and, Marisa Nallana, honorary secretary of AFECA and conference chair.

Panel discussions will also feature MICE industry suppliers and venue providers, and they will address the competitive challenges they face. Of particular interest to the participants will be how industry and professional associations, multinational and national organizations – key strategic clients for the MICE industry – decide where to hold their events and who to choose to run their events. A panel discussion participated in by Dr. Marissa Brual, head of the Philippine Dental Association; Oscar Sañez, CEO of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines ; and Eduardo Zuluaga, chairman of Manila Now 2009 Philippine International Furniture Show of the Chamber of Furniture Industry in the Philippines will provide their perspectives on the process of selecting a professional organizer.

Another panel will tackle the “WOW Factor,” or how to create a uniquely compelling event that will win the hearts and minds of participants and generate lasting goodwill. Insights will be provided by Rose Libongco, president of HSMA; Yoly Villanueva-Ong, founder of Campaigns & Grey and current group chairperson; and, Greg Banzon, general manager of RFM Corporation.

The second day of the forum will focus on marketing Asian MICE venues and offer insights into costs and pricing, bidding for international events, customer care, safety and security, new technologies for promoting and managing MICE events, and generating sponsorships. These sessions are intended to assist industry players in developing effective competitive strategies.

I’ve been asked to provide one of the keynote presentations, and I’ll be speaking on “Marketing Asian Places for MICE,” a subset of the research we’ve done on marketing Asian places. Also sharing their insights, experiences and best practices in the industry will be Monette Hamlin, president of TeamAsia and chair of the Conference Program; Dr. Anthony Leachon of the Philippine College of Physicians ; Mandarin Oriental Manila general manager Helmut Gaisberger; European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines executive vice president Henry Schumacher; Stagecraft international project manager Francis Leslie Zabala; and Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts Group Head of Security Angus Stevenson-Hamilton.

The forum will conclude with a discussion on how the MICE industry can capitalize on Festival Tourism. John Orola, chairman of the Bacolod City Tourism and Development Council and Benjie Lim, former mayor of Dagupan, Pangasinan and founder of the Bangus Festival will share how MICE organizers and local governments can work together to leverage local festivals and carnivals to enrich the delegate experience while showcasing authentic local culture. Festivals can be important component of the place brand marketing to MICE producers and organizers.

MICE should be a strategic industry in government plans to develop the economy. The MICE Forum will show why and how to make it so.

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