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Research On China And Asia Meetings Industry Released At CIBTM 2011

The results of this year’s annual China and Asia Meetings Industry Research Report shows that China and Asia offer huge potential for growth in the domestic, regional, international inbound and outbound markets for all types of meetings and events.

Taking place during June and July 2011 the research was undertaken with qualified buyers and suppliers throughout the region and internationally from the Reed Travel Exhibitions global portfolio of event’s worldwide database. A total of 445 buyer respondents and 180 suppliers were involved.

The Buyer

The percentage of respondents organising conferences and meetings has risen to 74% from 64% in 2010. Similarly those organising international conventions and congresses has also risen. Inbound international events to China have also grown indicating a rise in interest in the region and outbound events have also increased in number. The most popular destinations for outbound business include Taiwan, Macau, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. Beyond Asia, North America was the most popular followed by Europe, Middle East and Africa.

When asked to forecast destinations chosen by respondents for their events over the next year, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong continue to dominate, although in China, Shenzhen, Chengdu and Qingdao are all included for the first time. China is expected to benefit from the economic impact of the industry as it grows throughout the country in the future. Buyers said that the most important influencing factors when placing an event was cost followed by location, quality of accommodation, quality of service and the size of the venue plus time of year.

However, those rating satisfaction levels for their events in China showed that there is still room for improvement in facilities as 44% rated destinations used as very good or excellent – a reduction from 60% last year, citing the need for more training and professional skills to handle business

50% expect an increase in event budgets in future and 34% think they will stay the same. Factors influencing events in future show cost pressures and trends in the meetings market globally having an impact on China in the future as buyers try to organise a higher number of events on lower budgets – a trend that is being seen worldwide.

The economic climate and pressure to reduce costs remain the factors most likely to influence events in the next 12 months. Passport and visa issues have become more important as the volume of outbound business has increased. CSR and environmental issues are now influential for over 80% of respondents, a significant shift over previous years.

When assessing the outlook for 2012 the key issues that are predicted to have the most impact on increasing conference and event business in China and Asia are cost, hotels – lack of supply or capacity, training, understanding of international business needs, infrastructure, airlines and sufficient routes, service and meeting the required standards, supply and capacity for travel, accommodation and venues.

The Supplier

Suppliers cited conferences and meetings as the event types they are most involved with at 64% whilst incentives were not far behind at 53%. Travel Agencies remained in the number one position as third party organisers although the growth of the PCO has risen considerably from 6th last year to 2nd in 2011. While the Pharma and medical clients dominated the sector once again, the Financial services/banking rose from 6th position in last year’s research to 2nd place.

Suppliers matched the buyer’s responses in predicting the outbound areas of most interest to their Chinese clients with Asia still dominating, Europe in second place followed by Australasia. Similarly the factors influencing suppliers choice of where to hold events reflects closely the buyers concerns and include cost, location, capacity and quality of facilities plus service levels.

Future business growth is predicted by suppliers to come from China with 56% mentioning Beijing, 45%  Shanghai, 34%  Hong Kong and 27%  Taiwan, but additional areas of interest are shown as North and West China, the whole  Bohai-rim region, the Pearl River delta and the Yangtze River delta. 70% of supplier respondents are targeting corporate organisations for business in future, 34% third party organisers/agencies and 29% the not for profit organisations and associations.

Similarly to buyers the most influencing trends for events in the next 12 months will be the economic situation although environmental/green issues have increased in importance with 58% of suppliers citing CSR and environmental issues as extremely or somewhat influential on their events.

Critically, whilst the research showed caution for the year ahead compared to the 2010 survey, reflective of the economic situation worldwide, 52% still predict an increase in the volume of events yet only 27% suggest an increase in budgets for events. 34% will be increasing their marketing and promotional budgets. 32% show that they will increase their selection of long haul destinations.

The future factors that will affect the increase in conference and event business in China and Asia show that the number one influence will come from a need for a better understanding of the needs of international business visitors followed by training and professional qualifications for employees, service, infrastructure development, costs and budgets, improving visa procedures and formalities, and safety and security.

“This year’s CIBTM event is clearly following the growth trends for the MICE sector in the region with over 300 exhibitors, a 21% growth in event space over 2010 and more than 300 Hosted Buyers (25% increase over 2010). Our research also highlights the need for professional training and education to keep up with the pace of growth and CIBTM is now considered to be the annual event that focuses on development of this resource for all those involved in the industry.

Professional training and accreditation has become an important focus in the Chinese meetings industry – this is shown in the thirst for knowledge, learning, accreditation such as CMP and MPI Global training, both of which are establishing themselves at CIBTM and in Beijing," said Jeffrey Xu, CIBTM Project Manager.