News UK, India have potential for more SE Asian-bound events: industry opinion leaders By S Puvaneswary / Posted on 10 December, 2019 11:18 Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitter BE@PenangÂ 2019 and ICCA Asia Pacific Summit 2019 featured memorable local acts throughout their programme, keeping to Penang's promise to offer authentic destination experiences for event delegates Two of South-east Asia’s strongest markets for corporate meetings and incentives are said to have potential for further growth, provided the region’s events service providers are able to identify trends and capitalise on them, according to two market opinion leaders who spoke at the fourth BE@Penang conference organised by the Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau (PCEB). Speaking during the session titled, Market Digest: Insight & Trends, last Thursday, Prashant Yadav, CEO of Liberty International India, shared that South-east Asia was a natural favourite among Indian event organisers because it is a medium-haul destination. However, to keep them coming, regional CVBs and inbound events agents must be more creative in marketing their destinations. BE@PenangÂ 2019 and ICCA Asia Pacific Summit 2019 featured memorable local acts throughout their programme, keeping to Penang’s promise to offer authentic destination experiences for event delegates One of the misconceptions about Indian MICE groups that must go was the belief that Indians want only Indian cuisine while on their travels. Prashant said: â€œThere is a growing number of Indians who are willing to try local food when overseas.” Further illustrating his point, he said 15 per cent of his corporate clients today avoided “Indian food of any kind” when overseas, and he predicted this number to grow to become 40 to 50 per cent within the next decade. Prashant added that while Indian clients have done their events at major South-east Asian cities, most were willing to return to the destination if inbound specialists could offer memorable experiences that cannot be found themselves. He also tipped the audience off to a growing desire among Indian corporates for “interactive and participatory” corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes. As for the UK market, Ross Barker, commercial director of the meetings portfolio for Northstar Travel Media UK, shared that event organisers in Asia to seriously look at digital protection and hire the services of pedigree technology providers with a reliable track record to support events. He explained that corporate groups from the UK pay particular attention to digital breaches and delegate data protection. In addition, he emphasised a growing trend in the UK for personalisation of events for a multi-generational audience. Such events has to allow human connections and cultural enrichment for attendees in destinations they visit. Sustainable meeting venues are also no longer trendy, but a necessity for UK event owners. Against a backdrop of Brexit uncertainty, Barker said longhaul travel for UK meeting and incentive groups have remained buoyant. Referencing the Meetings & Incentive Travel 2016 & 2018 Trends & Spends report, he pointed out that the number of business events groups and participants to longhaul destinations from the UK had increased in 2018 against 2016. The report found 574 business events groups in 2018 with a total of 57,849 participants, compared with 247 groups with 22,239 participants in 2016. Average group size in 2018 was 101 delegates compared with 90 in 2016 while the length of stay over both periods remained at three nights. The Meetings Show 2019 survey further revealed that over 36 per cent of UK buyers identified South-east Asia, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand as future destinations for their meetings, events and incentives. Meanwhile, 55 per cent of those surveyed said they were planning events in longhaul destinations over the next 12 months.