Sector continues to grow
The meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) market continues to grow in Asia and its focus remains largely regional, with a smaller percentage going long-haul to European and American destinations, especially London, Rome, Frankfurt and, lately, Las Vegas. Within Asia-Pacific, popular destinations continue to be Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, the Gold Coast, Shanghai and Beijing, while some markets continue to drive large volumes to specific locations. For example, India's key interests are Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, according to Roland Jegge, vice-president of Worldhotels Asia-Pacific.
The group has joined the ranks of travel companies now seeking to grow the MICE sector of their business with the launch of its newest online MICE portal to help find the right venue among its 450 hotels, and streamlining the booking process.
Jegge says the launch of the new portal is part of a strategy to increase the MICE segment from 15 per cent to at least 20 per cent of overall business.
'In Asia, our MICE desks see increases in leads and bookings that are close to 15 per cent year-on-year,' he says.
The new website has been designed to be user-friendly for MICE professionals in planning events - from board meetings, seminars, conferences and team building events to weddings, birthdays, galas or other business and social occasions.
The search tool, Meetings at Worldhotels, allows event planners to input delegate numbers, accommodation, hotel facilities and location. There are four categories: team building, social gatherings, board meetings and seminars, and conferences and conventions. A directory then returns results, providing information on eligible hotels by region and country. Event planners are able to input an alternative destination in case their first choice yields no suitable results.
Event planners can fill in an online request form and can expect a response within 24 hours, according to Jegge.
While Jegge says the North American, British and German markets use online tools extensively, the group receives regular direct online requests from Singapore, Hong Kong, India and Australia.
'Many meeting planners use the site for research and searches, and follow-up through e-mail or phone,' he adds.