MICE business surges forward

Shanghai is still a strong draw for events,
especially from the finance and scientific

Despite tough economic times, China’s financial hub has remained resilient and continues to be a magnet for business events. Caroline Boey reports

The 2016 MICE outlook for Shanghai continues to be upbeat as the city has been booked to host a number of international transportation and medical conventions that will attract some 3,000 participants.

The destination is one MICE city that has and continues to reap the benefits of its MICE infrastructure development. Case in point – the opening of the mega National Exhibition and Convention Center last year resulted in 24 new major local and international exhibitions organised in the city in 2015.

Patrick Chen, deputy director – International Tourism Promotion Department of the Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration, said a number of the 24 events were entirely new ones. He also noted that Shanghai is still a strong draw for events in the finance and scientific sectors.

This year, Shanghai will benefit from meetings like the Ministers of Finance gathering for 700 delegates. It was held at the end of February in the run-up to the 2016 G20 Hangzhou Summit in early September.

Chen added: “We are expecting a few more G20-related events (such as the Ministers of Trade meeting this month) which could bring in more than 1,000 attendees. The recent opening of the Shanghai Disney Resort will also contribute to MICE growth.”

With MICE infrastructure in Shanghai continuing to develop in new areas and in the further reaches of the metropolis, Chen said the city’s metro network is similarly expanding with the opening of new stations on Lines 7, 12 and 13.

According to new and established DMC players, Shanghai’s MICE performance is strong.

They said that Shanghai is benefitting from high-profile celebrity events with the likes of British actor Benedict Cumberbatch (of Sherlock fame) hosting product launches, which continue to raise the city’s hip factor.

The opening of luxury hotels – such as Jin Jiang Tower Hotel and Ahn Luh Zhujiajiao – and new state-of-the-art venues providing even more options for meeting planners and MICE buyers, also helps to make Shanghai a hot destination, they add.

Boutique DMC, Bespoke Shanghai, which set up a presence in the city last year, is upbeat. The company first started in Beijing in 2009, and it specialises in meetings for senior management and groups of up to 50 or 60 people.

Sam Braybon, bespoke ambassador to Shanghai, Bespoke Shanghai, said: “Shanghai has seen a strong 2015 MICE performance and this is expected to grow further this year. The city has invested heavily in infrastructure to ensure that its conference and exhibition facilities are among the best in China, and it has the best selection of luxury hotels and top-end restaurants that help support and attract high-level clients. Then there are a number of new hotels opening in 2016, plus Shanghai Disney Resort, which should mean a lot of publicity and an even higher profile for the city.”

International DMC Pacific World, which has had a presence in Shanghai since 2000, reports good demand for international corporate events.

Violet Wang, Shanghai-based destination manager, Pacific World, said: “Businesses are still choosing Shanghai to open new offices and we are still seeing a lot of business transactions with Shanghai. The US and Asia are major markets for Pacific World and it is enjoying a rise in sporting and product launch events.”

Wang elaborated: “The aviation, automotive and insurance industries are still strong and association meetings in high-tech and clean energy return every year. With the devaluation of the Chinese currency, Shanghai has become more affordable for markets such as the US, and also Australia and New Zealand – but to a lesser extent because their currencies have also depreciated.”

“Incentives are also back and the new trend is CSR teambuilding activities with experiences that engage and inspire staff. China’s strong cultural element is important for overseas participants. This year, we expect to see an uptrend from pharmaceutical companies, where compliance has eased and five-star accommodation can now be considered,” Wang said.

For Renaissance Shanghai Pudong Hotel, it expects demand for corporate meetings, primarily for training and education, to come from the insurance and pharmaceutical sectors.

To maintain its MICE share in an increasingly competitive environment, the hotel’s ballroom was upgraded in 2014 and renovation of its guestrooms was completed in August 2015.

Sam Braybon, Bespoke Shanghai’s bespoke ambassador to Shanghai

Sam Braybon, Bespoke Shanghai’s bespoke ambassador to Shanghai, recommends three activities that can be done around the bustling city

Discover something old

Follow an expert guide into Shanghai’s Old City and learn about its early days as a Ming Dynasty trading post that was famous for cotton and textile production. Then traverse a tangle of impossibly narrow lanes surrounding Shanghai Confucius Temple and discover its architecture, before marvelling at the discreet villa where Einstein and his wife once dined during a stopover.

The Bund and its forest of skyscrapers Picture by Jackmalipan/123RF.com

A different type of bar crawl

The city is a world-class party town and those looking for a good time can dress up and indulge in a three-hour signature Shanghai cocktail experience.

Accompanied by a doyenne of Shanghai’s nightlife scene, visitors can visit three of the city’s hidden bars and obtain exclusive access to three bartenders, where each bartender will craft a cocktail based on one’s favourite spirits and flavours.

Time hop into the past

A stroll along the Bund will give visitors a feel for Shanghai’s luxury business environment, while a visit to the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center tells the story of Shanghai’s transformation from a sleepy backwater to a global financial hub.

An exquisite space perched up high

The ultra-luxurious Park Hyatt Shanghai is located between the 79th to 93rd floors of the Shanghai World Financial Center in Pudong.

Opened in 2008, its 87th floor Chef’s Table is a sought-after venue for exclusive and sophisticated dinners. Or when a special space that embraces the clouds and offers stunning views – which look directly at the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Jin Mao Tower and the Bund – is called for.

Visitors to the space are greeted by soaring ceilings, elegant European décor and a well-planned space for an intimate gathering.

One of the most exclusive spaces in the hotel, the interior was conceptualised by New York-based award-winning designer Tony Chi. What resulted was a fully equipped high-end Bulthaup kitchen that features its own music system.

Event planners can play around with the venue’s natural light, open kitchen and multifunctional space to enhance an exclusive and tailor-made dining experience that is supported on site with chef services.

The venue is ideal for small gatherings, especially those that require exceptional F&B services. Moreover, wine connoisseurs will delight in the exclusive wine library which stores more than 500 labels from around the world.

Aside from catering to exquisite dinner parties for 12 guests, a hotel spokesman said the Chef’s Table has also played host to pastry and floral master classes for small MICE group events. These, she said, were held during Park Hyatt Shanghai’s Masters of Food & Wine Passion Week – a high-profile annual highlight in Shanghai’s foodie calendar.

For bigger events, the spokesman added that Park Hyatt Shanghai also has a Private Dining space on the 93rd floor available.

For example, tai chi classes for MICE groups can take place in a spacious tai chi “courtyard” at one end of the pool area at Water’s Edge spa on the hotel’s 85th floor. It is one of the city’s highest pool, spa and fitness facilities.

Other meeting spaces include: seven salons measuring between 74m2 and 171m2 on the 86th floor; intimate spaces of 66m2 and 240m2 (that add up to 600m2)on the Private Dining level on the 93rd floor; while the Sky Arena on the 94th floor has a 760m2 space available.

From left: Park Hyatt Shanghai’s Chef’s Table; a pastry master class in session


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