Subvention support, new venues and hotels, and a focus on international association meetings are boosting Macau’s business events performance.
Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM) has painted a positive picture of the destination’s business events landscape and has predicted continued growth in the near future.
Backing its claims are statistics on business performance in 1Q2017. Macau welcomed 366 business events in that period, comprising 344 meetings and conferences, 15 incentives and seven exhibitions. Macau had more meetings and conferences in that period, up by 50 events year-on-year while attendance rose by 111.9 per cent. The number of incentives in 1Q2017 has also gone up by three.
IPIM credited Asia-Pacific markets for the improvement in performance, saying that the region was “relatively stable with modest economic growth”.
An IPIM spokesperson added that Macau’s “continual addition of new venues, hotels and infrastructure is…creating more capacity and competition (which) in turn leads to greater efforts by venues and hotels to diversify their business portfolio and increase their marketing efforts in the region”.
The spokesperson believes that Macau, as a “relatively new MICE destination”, is “always attractive” to event planners.
“Macao will continue to be popular for large-scale business events as it is one of the few destinations with (massive) capacity. There are groups that are selecting Macau multiple times because of its capacity and continual rollout of new venues, hotels and attractions,” the spokesperson told TTGmice.
It comes as no surprise that China was a good market for Macau in 2017. Three large groups were confirmed alone in September, and they are set to bring more than 30,000 delegates to Macau.
But what is interesting is the emergence of African interest. IPIM revealed that several applications for its business events subvention programme suddenly emerged out of Africa since mid-2017.
And IPIM wants more from other longhaul markets. It is looking at increasing its promotions in Europe and North America, targeting international association meetings in particular.
“Although Asia-Pacific is our primary source, over 60 per cent of associations are headquartered in Europe, making it the primary market for international association meetings,” explained the spokesperson.
Industry players had also reported rosy performance for 2017.
Daniella Tonetto, general manager, sales and marketing, for both Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel and St. Regis Macao, said: “IT, consulting and direct-selling companies have done well (in 2017). We continue to see…short-lead (meeting bookings) primarily out of Asia. This is more of an opportunity than a challenge, and we are responding to the needs of our (clients) faster than ever,” Tonetto.
She said the hotels have established high brand awareness in third-tier Chinese cities.
“And thanks to the growth of the global economy, more (Chinese) companies are looking to host their events abroad,” she added.
She predicts continued growth out of South-east Asia, Hong Kong and China in 2018.
Sands China, vice president sales, Stephanie Tanpure, also expects 2017’s healthy performance will continue through 2018, “driven by a variety of factors, including the ongoing movement of Chinese citizens to urban centres in China, continued growth of the Chinese outbound tourism market, the increased utilisation of existing transportation infrastructure, the introduction of new transportation infrastructure and the continued increase in hotel room inventory in Macau and neighbouring Hengqin Island”.
“We are seeing some great growth from second-tier cities in China. These cities are the growth engines of the Chinese economy, boosted by an increase in investments, new infrastructure and an influx of new talent. Many of these cities are quickly developing new industries and corporations are flourishing,” said Tanpure.
Olinto Oliveira, business development and events director, MCI Macau Office, said a sign of Macau’s healthy business events industry is the growing number of agency players.
“(2017) has seen a number of new players entering the market – international agencies attempting to penetrate into Macau, or other present companies expanding their offerings and scope. I’ve always been a fan of competition – it forces us to innovate and continue to deliver at the high level of quality which our clients and partners have come to expect from us,” Oliveira explained.