Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) is an important component of the hospitality and tourism industry, and drives economic development in many destinations. Generating millions in revenue annually, this dynamic sector is evolving at a tremendous pace.
Here are some of the observed trends for 2018, provided by WorldHotels.
Virtual assistants and event apps are on the rise, among others
Gone are the days where venues are only expected to be equipped with high speed internet connection and an overhead projector. Technology, such as virtual assistants and artificial intelligence, positively impact guest experiences. The provision of virtual and augmented reality, web casting, live streaming and video conferencing is becoming increasingly important for venues to stay at the top of the game. Availability of mobile applications is also seen as a key feature, easing event registrations and offering a mode of communication, both before and after the events.
Ganessan Suppiah, WorldHotels’ regional vice president of sales, Asia Pacific, shared: “Technology helps to personalise experiences; it does not replace human interaction, but enhances it.”
Ganessan also sees an increase in virtual event attendance. Venues need to provide opportunities, for online attendance and intervention, to allow participation from within and beyond the event space. Virtual reality and 360-degree images on YouTube, Facebook and Periscope are becoming increasingly important for event promotions.
In addition, while the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – which is coming into force this month – will present some challenges, there will also be opportunities to improve data quality and transparency.
Organisers’ preferences towards business meetings that offer authentic experiences
A lot of organisers now look for venues that provide tranquil settings, giving rise to a demand of business meetings at locations that lie closer to nature. “Go local” is another growing trend – guests desire to be immersed in local culture; authentic travel experiences are highly sought-after.
Events are required to be more experiential as organisers yearn for unique, tailor-made experiences instead of a cookier-cutter approach; having flexible meeting spaces is near the top of every participant’s wishlist.
“Meetings should not be dull. Spa treatments, teambuilding exercises, cocktail courses… Venues that provide fun activities, alongside the serious business focus, will help to attract clients,” said Anke Ebinger, director of sales Central Europe, WorldHotels.
Engaging with a younger audience: interactivity and relevance
There is a growing need for organisers to create more interaction and involvement from the audience. Younger generations may not fancy traditional speakers; people prefer engagement to instruction. Interactive elements, greater collaboration among people and information exchange sessions are now more critical.
Anke also noticed that younger generations (Gen Y and Z) are more conscious of their well-being and health. People are opting for fresh and healthy food, instead of sweet pastries, with a strong emphasis on “brain food”.
Catering is no longer solely a venue facility, but is being regarded as a platform to impress guests. Organisers are expecting creative food showcases with novel concepts, especially when they are content-worthy for social media feeds.