Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM)’s executive director, Irene Lau, tells Prudence Lui more about the training course for Macau’s business events professionals, and the future of the industry.
This summer’s MICE Talent Training Program was the third edition. How did it differ from the last two?
Venue wise, after Shanghai and Dalian, Hangzhou was picked as the destination thanks to its commercial, tourism and cultural hub in eastern China. Content-wise, we have it in line with the Macau government’s policy of giving “Priority to Conventions”, so this training programme was structured to focus more on the elements related to conventions.
Among the speakers, Liu Haiying, the CEO of China National Convention Center, was invited to share his experience in organising and attracting mega international conventions.
The group also visited relevant venues and facilities such as the Hangzhou International Expo Center, so as to obtain a preliminary understanding of the business events-related environment in Hangzhou, and got acquainted with local business events professionals.
How effective has the programme been?
The three editions of the MICE Talent Training Program attracted 70 business events industry practitioners from Macau.
The programme combines theory with practice, and helps to enhance the strengths and professional level of Macau’s business events industry. It also improves competitiveness, and provides upward mobility for industry professionals, so as to cultivate a larger number of middle-level managers.
At the same time, the programme helps to promote exchange and collaboration between professionals, enterprises of Macau’s business events industry and their counterparts in Mainland China.
In fact, the rising standard of local business practitioners enabled Macau to hold a variety of large-scale regional and international events.
In January 2017, The 13th China Expo Forum for International Cooperation was hosted in Macau. This annual event of the international convention and exhibition industry was hosted outside of Mainland China for the first time.
It attracted more than 800 elites and high-ranking individuals in the business events industry. The helmsmen of the three international convention and exhibition organisations, UFI, IAEE and SISO, were also invited to the forum in Macau to share their experiences.
What was the highlight of this summer’s edition? What did the participants learn?
We had 20 Macau business events practitioners in participation. With the cooperation of Training Center of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) and the CCPIT Zhejiang, the group visited the Hangzhou International Expo Center, the headquarters of Alibaba Group, and the largest organiser of Chinese companies to participate in the overseas exhibition – Meorient International Exhibition.
Trainees learnt the protocol in serving VVIPs at the Hangzhou International Expo Center, for instance. They also learnt about the application of Internet and technology in business events through the Alibaba Group visit. They also picked up strategies, techniques, and use of O2O services in attracting exhibitors efficiently at Meorient International Exhibition.
Is manpower quality the key issue for Macau’s business events industry today and into the near future?
Absolutely. A large number of high-quality personnel are needed to drive the growth of Macau’s business events industry.
According to the Macau Talents Development Committee, in 2015 there were 1,729 employees in the business events industry (taking large business events companies into account) of which 44 per cent were managerial class, 42 per cent were middle-level and 14 percent were ground-level. The research predicted a demand for an additional 1,683 employees from 2016 to 2018. As well, more high-quality practitioners are in demand to meet the increasing number and size of events held in Macau.
What needs to be done to allow Macau to keep pace with international standards in business events?
Aside from conducting training courses and exchange activities, the participation in international tradeshows is also an active and effective way for business events professionals to keep pace with international standards.
IPIM organises and encourages local business events practitioners to participate in overseas tradeshows, such as IMEX, where they can stay updated and learn more about the latest market trends.
Are there enough training opportunities for local business events professionals?
Nurturing talents is an important component in the sustainable development of the industry. In view of this, IPIM initiates and works closely with the industry to organise different programmes and training for the business events and business events-related professionals.
For instance, the Support Program for Professional Training and Education in the Convention and Exhibition Sector (MICE) aims to provide financial support for convention and exhibition organisers.
As well, our regular business events industry workshops cover different topics and themes. Local associations, such as the Macau Fair and Trade Association, also run courses and training.
What is your one biggest wish for Macau’s business events talent pool?
We hope that more fresh blood can be brought into the business events industry to meet the manpower needs for future development. The requirement for well-trained business events practitioners is becoming dire as Macau continues to flourish with new construction projects and business events facilities.