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PATA Analyses Asia Pacific’s MICE Sector

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has published a new 24-page report that provides insights into what it takes to be a rising star in the meeting, incentive, conference and exhibition (MICE) industry in Asia.

The report, in the latest edition of PATA’s Issues & Trends, shows that Asia accounts for 16% of total meetings worldwide. Asian destinations are increasingly seeking to attract MICE visitors as they spend between three and seven times the amount of leisure visitors, depending on which criteria you use.

“A robust MICE sector is a strong indicator of a sophisticated economy,” said John Koldowski of PATA’s Strategic Intelligence Centre. “Attracting top level international events requires the hardware of physical infrastructure, the software of people skills and a first-class service mentality.”

According to the PATA report, the must-have credentials to be a MICE destination include easy access by air, road or rail, at least one good quality congress centre, an adequate range of three- to five-star hotels, an attractive destination and surroundings, value for money, adequate marketing muscle, and a good range of local professional conference organisers.

Increasingly discerning MICE clients now also insist on flexible, fast and efficient service, a strong track record of success with previous events, excellent IT and telecoms, meaningful environmental policies, and smart marketing.

The report, entitled “MICE Comes of Age in Asia Pacific,” notes that despite the growth in international events, domestic meetings continue to represent the bulk of the MICE sector, representing 71.5% of all events recorded by the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers in 2009. Similarly, domestic meetings grew 227% from 2006 to 2009, while international meetings increased by just 45% over the same period.

Some industries are more lucrative than others for MICE business. The report shows that in China, the demand is growing fastest in the medical and pharmaceutical sectors followed by banks, financial services and insurance.

According to PATA, emerging fields in the international conference scene are likely to include businesses associated with the environment, security, fashion and design.

“Competing for top-end MICE business in Asia is a high-stakes game,” said Koldowski. “Decision-makers who decide where to hold large conventions have a burden of responsibility for hundreds and sometimes thousands of association members. Sometimes a ‘guarantee’ from a government ministry can tip the balance in the destination’s favour.”

PATA’s MICE report also looks at issues such as the role of subsidies, the impact of mega events in repositioning a destination’s reputation, upcoming Asian MICE destinations of the future, and the impact of economic slumps on the sector.