MICE momentum builds in Shanghai

Business events in Shanghai are taking off thanks to recently launched air routes, new hotels, and revitalised historic areas

View of the Pudong new district of Shanghai

Shanghai’s ability to remain fresh and exciting, with the continuous addition of new infrastructure and attractions for business events, has earned the city a strong business events reputation.

According to CWT Meetings & Events, it holds the top spot among the top 10 cities in Asia-Pacific in 2019, and industry members are upbeat the city will continue to do well.

View of the Pudong new district of Shanghai

Violet Wang, destination manager, Pacific World China, commented: “We have 200 airports in total in China, while another 240 are being planned or are under construction for completion before 2022, which means air capacity could double over the next three years. Ongoing projects include Terminal 3 of Pudong International Airport, and this will definitely benefit the future of international events.”

Wang added Shanghai’s safety factor, booming business environment – including surrounding areas like Suzhou, Taicang and Hangzhou – good hotel and conference infrastructure, as well as increasing numbers of professionals, all make the city attractive for corporate and association meetings and incentives.

“Business is definitely increasing, at least for our company. Our event volume nearly doubled in the past year and will continue to increase,” she said.

The growth potential for business events in Shanghai saw international carrier Delta Air Lines launching a non-stop daily service between Shanghai Pudong International Airport and the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 2018, linking China’s business centre and the American carrier’s US hub, which offers more than 1,000 departures a day.

Wong Hong, president, Delta, Greater China and Singapore, said the new service complements Delta’s existing direct flights between Shanghai and Detroit, Seattle and Los Angeles, providing the city with non-stop service to and from four US gateways.

For Shanghai-based Sam Braybon, director of The Bespoke Travel Company, the opening of Shanghai Edition hotel with nine different F&B venues, the revival of Columbia Circle – an historical area with good event potential – and the reopening of the Shanghai History Museum  with a 9,800m2 exhibition area home to around 1,100 artefacts – are giving DMCs and meeting planners new options.

He added Shanghai’s varied dining and restaurant scene, which caters to differing budgets, has given rise to food-related activities being “super popular”.

“Our company is just about to launch a new cooking class in a French Concession villa,” he shared.

Other new ideas for activities that might appeal to international meeting participants include an art tour of the city’s best galleries with an art industry insider or, a jog through new and super cool paths in the South Bund area, he added.

On the city’s outlook, Braybon said: “We forecast growth of about five to 10 per cent for Shanghai in 2019, as there are a lot of good opportunities since many companies continue to be curious about China’s rapid evolution.”

Demand for Shanghai last year was high with room rates rising despite the increase in hotel inventory, and market sentiment for 2019 continues to be buoyant.

Julien Delerue, founder and CEO, 1000meetings, an RFP technology platform with a database of hotels in China spanning the past 10 years, said: “For the last two years, the average five-star room rate was around RMB1,000 (US$146). Now the rate ranges between RMB1,300 and RMB1,500 during peak periods,” Delerue commented.

But meeting planners considering Shanghai also have access to less-expensive options, and Delerue pointed out Shanghai also offers plenty of four-star and lower-category room options below RMB1,000.

Kin Qin, deputy general manager, Century Holiday International Travel Group, is also upbeat about Shanghai. He commented: “There are certainly a lot of air access choices to Shanghai, and the supply of new hotels has been increasing over the last two years.

“With the continued increase in air capacity and hotel inventory, Shanghai continues to be a popular destination, and its image will also get stronger.”

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