Industry predictions indicate that the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) sector is poised for vigorous growth. Recuperating after the recession, it is springing back, stronger than ever. The demand for meetings is on the rise and though companies are not splurging, luxury venues are not being ruled out either. In general, there are some emerging trends which have been observed. Let us take a look at the top ten MICE trends and its immediate future, which have been released by the Benchmark Hospitality International, a leading American company operating around 35 renowned hotels, resorts and conference centres.
Top Future Trends
Return to luxury — Budget constraints have not vanished and purse strings are far from being completely loosened. However, luxury resorts are not out of bounds either.
Meeting demand is at its peak since 2008 — There is growing demand across all sectors, telecommunications, education and insurance, healthcare, energy and many more.
Meeting size is growing — The growing demand for meetings has resulted in hotels giving preference to larger meetings capable of paying more. Hotels are not as flexible as before when it comes to walk-in bookings and last minute bookings are not possible anymore. Good venues have to be booked well in advance.
Meeting space is changing — The traditional ‘boardroom-style’ space is being replaced by an innovative approach where huge outdoor meeting spaces, smaller cosy nooks for limited gatherings and different kinds of seating are being requested. The focus is on creating conducive settings and it is no more a surprising sight to see delegates assembled around a campfire or at a bar.
New age technology — Meetings and events are getting more tech-savvy than ever before. Apps downloaded on smart phones and iPads, easily accessible mobile sites and meeting-dedicated Facebook pages are assisting planners with the registration process, informing them of programmes and offering an easier method to gather feedback from participants after the events. Note taking through iPads, LCD projectors and the latest audio-visual technological tools – events have been totally transformed by technology.
The Meeting Package is back — The last couple of years saw a decline in the meeting package but it has made a strong comeback again this year. Planners are once again embracing the product for the value it offers the meeting budget. Planners are requesting for customised packages rather than unbundling.
Prices are increasing slowly — The improvement in economy is resulting in slowly increasing prices of meetings. Though value for money is still an important factor, the planners are yielding to prices being a little higher than before.
Teambuilding activities are making a comeback — Venues, which are offering creative options for teambuilding activities are in demand. For instance venues with options for holding cookery classes, beach-volleyball or golf lessons are attracting more meeting planners.
Facing cut throat competition — The improvement in the economy brings with it fierce competition and no company can afford to lag behind in the race for supremacy. Training budgets are being revamped to ensure best-trained sales and management personnel for survival in the competitive global economy.
Growing importance of the destination — The meeting destinations have gained new importance. Planners are looking for value for money and an exotic destination is not necessarily what they are looking at. Destinations which offer great value and a relaxed atmosphere are being preferred. Along with facilities for meetings, destinations which offer recreational opportunities and learning in relaxed settings are becoming popular.
Future of the MICE Industry
The prospects for the MICE industry are looking very bright. Indeed the changing trends are clearly indicating that this sector is making a steady comeback as the world economy has started picking up. With the economy improving, there is once again a renewed demand for exhibitions, meetings and events to showcase latest products or for brainstorming sessions or simply for attracting clients. Countries are promoting themselves as MICE venues to attract event organizers. Travel companies are offering specialised MICE services and activities.
Major Themes of the Future
A recent survey by Fast Future Research has shown that the industry has to strategize and reinvent itself to face new challenges. The future of the industry will be influenced by the following major factors:
- Economic uncertainty,
- Better, cheaper technological options for live events,
- Faster, shorter business cycles,
- Political/economic influence of Asia
Major Challenges in the Coming Future
In order to survive and continue to be “a critical engine of economic development”, the industry will have to tackle ten challenges:
- Evolving a distinct identity of its own — The industry must create its own persona distinct from travel and tourism.
- Establishing universal economic impact models — The industry has to offer good value for money; stakeholders need proof of economic benefits.
- Proving relevance and value — Show that meetings are not the (economic) problem, but are a vital part of the solution.
- Thinking and acting strategically — Assess the needs, anticipate coming challenges, and face them with appropriate measures.
- Nurturing agility and flexibility — Venues need to be open-minded about their meeting spaces and public spaces.
- Personalizing and deepening the learning experience — Keep in mind adult-learning principles, and engage with the audience year-round.
- Experimenting with business models and revenue streams — Think of events as launch pads for continual revenue generation.
- Adopting value-chain thinking — Foster collaboration among all stakeholders, suppliers, and planners.
- Acquiring, retaining and developing talent, and embracing diversity — Meetings industry careers must be seen as stimulating and rewarding to attract the next generation.
- Developing tomorrow’s leaders and managers — Leaders in the next decade will be successful through innovation and experimentation.
The MICE industry, after the global economic recovery, is set to move ahead rapidly. Meetings, exhibitions, events are essentially networking tools and will always be the cornerstone of successful businesses. What is needed here is to recognize the changing way in which the world is conducting business; the changing trends which are influencing global economies; the technological revolution which is making its presence felt in the way in which events and meetings are being conducted. Assimilating these changes seamlessly and responding to it with strategic initiatives will only make the MICE industry stronger than before.