Trend for multi-city business travel and MICE in Asia

Opportunities flourish for multi-city programs in Southeast Asia
Destinations in Southeast Asia could cater to multi-destination business event programs, particularly for small incentive and conference groups with optional pre/post-show activities, said three panellists at a MICE forum in Bangkok this week.
Multi-destination incentives are more popular with long-haul clients “who have come all the way from Europe or the US to this region and want to cover as [many destinations] as possible because incentives don’t usually [return to the same region],” said Pornthip Hirunkate, deputy CEO of Destination Asia Group, at the opening session of the inaugural ASEAN MICE Forum at the annual IT&CMA trade event.
These clients would do Thailand-Myanmar-Cambodia, Singapore-Bali or Singapore-Malaysia combinations, she said.
For corporate meetings, multi-destination itineraries are possible when optional pre/post-show programs are included, according to Hugo Slimbrouck, director of strategic partnerships, Ovation Global DMC.
Core programs are unlikely to be held in more than one destination in Southeast Asia, he noted, especially since “meetings nowadays are shorter, lasting one-and-a-half days or two”.
Although destinations in Southeast Asia offer many cultural and historical charms and are seeing new tourism infrastructure developments, Slimbrouck pointed out that the purpose of the corporate or association meeting – not tourism appeal – would drive destination choices.
Sarah Randall, head of MICE Services at Centara Hotels & Resorts, said destination choices would depend on “the individual market segment and objective of the event, whether it needs teambuilding, CSR elements or purely economic [achievements].”
However, the panellists believe complex logistics that come with multi-destination programs will deter event planners. To minimise such challenges, hotels must help by providing a single point of contact for event planners.
“Hotels in this region must also help to market the destination by educating clients on what’s available besides the hotel and its meeting facilities. I have ballrooms in my hotel, but so does the hotel next door. We guide our clients around the destination and show them how a meeting in a city like Bangkok could work with a post-event program in a resort destination like Hua Hin,” Randall said.
What destinations in Southeast Asia have going for them is the availability of convenient air links within the region. There is a multitude of low-cost carriers, but full-service regional carriers are preferred by business travellers.
TTG Asia

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