With growing capacity to stage large-scale groups and diverse attractions that appeal to the Chinese, the outlook is good.
The year 2016 had been a year of big business events for Macau, particularly those hailed from China. Some of these heavyweights include the Tai Hu World Culture Forum with 800 delegates, Herbalife (China) Extraordinary Tour 2016 with 7,000 delegates, Greater China Nu Skin Academy with 5,000 delegates, and Jeunesse Greater China Meeting with 10,000 delegates.
In all, there were 905 China business events in 3Q2016, including 257 meetings, 17 exhibitions and three corporate incentives.
Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM) expects the number to climb slightly by the end of 2016, although official figures for the final quarter are not out at press time.
In comparison, there were 909 events from China in 2015.
Macau, which is adding capacity for large-scale events as well as major infrastructure and diverse attractions that will appeal to the Chinese market, can expect to see further growth, according to an IPIM spokesperson.
With mega Chinese corporate gatherings flourishing in Macau, the destination now hopes to grow corporate meetings and incentives from China this year and is dangling its supply of high-end accommodation, ease of access from China and the lack of a language barrier to charm planners.
According to an IPIM spokesperson, Macau is seeing great success in this pursuit.
Supporting IPIMâ€™s efforts are revisions made at the start of this year to two existing programmes aimed encouraging business events to head to Macau. Both the Convention and Exhibition Stimulation Programme and the International Meeting and Trade Fair Support Programme now offer an extended deadline for application; introduction of subsidies to finance the planning and management costs for the hiring of local PCOs; and the introduction of transportation subsidies to encourage trade visitors to explore the community.
These revisions, which came into effect on February 21, aim to optimise the application procedures and attract a greater number of international business events to be organised in Macau, thus promoting economic diversification.
The private sector has been keeping busy too, in their efforts to win over more Chinese planners.
Ruth Boston, vice president, destination marketing and sales with Sands China, told TTGmice that its intensified marketing efforts in Chinaâ€™s first and second tier cities have led to significant growth in 2016.
â€śMainland China is our number one market, with the majority of business coming from Beijing and Shanghai. There is also significant growth from Chengdu, Tianjin, Nanjing (and Guangzhou),â€ť said Boston.
In 2Q2016, Sands led roadshows into China to promote the opening of its new The Parisian Macao integrated resort, which started welcoming guests in September 2016.
Despite Macauâ€™s expanding inventory of high-end properties, Boston regards the luxury business events market as a strong performer for Sands resorts.
â€śThe incentives market along with the multi-level marketing sector saw growth in 2016, and we are hoping to expand and capture more of this market this year. 2017 is already showing positive growth compared to this time last year,â€ť she added.
Opened in October 2015, the 1,600-key Studio City integrated resort has seen good business from China. According to its spokesperson, Chinese corporate groups are open to using the resortâ€™s unique facilities, and have rented its 300-seat theatre for private functions. The spokesperson said China would continue to be a prime target for business events coming into the property this year.
At Grand Hyatt Macau, corporate demand is rising from China, the hotelâ€™s third biggest source market in 2015 and 2016.
General manager Paul Kwok said noted that corporate meetings delivered the highest numbers to his hotel in 2016. Moving forward, he plans to grow business by courting China Fortune Top 500 companies.
Kwok added that Macauâ€™s plentiful large venues make it attractive for direct marketing companies which tend to lead massive delegations for events.
Also reporting a good year with Chinese business events in 2016 is Tina Lit, director of marketing and business and AGM with CITS, who has seen meetings driving growth.
â€śWe expect a better year in 2017 as the Macau government is strongly supporting the trade with many initiatives like subsidies for overseas meeting groups. And with many new hotels coming online this year, clients will enjoy more accommodation options and room rates will become more (affordable),â€ť Lit said.