A blend of new meeting hardware, unique venues, Michelin-star dining and natural landscapes is allowing the metropolis to present memorable event opportunities.
Earlier this March, the Taipei City Government established its first MICE office – a breakthrough after years of effort – in a bid to create a sound environment to further develop its MICE sector against the backdrop of an ultra-competitive Asia market.
And the city is smartly playing to its strengths, vividly highlighting unique locations where MICE events can be held such as the Huashan 1914 Creative Park and Taipei Expo Park; bettering its infrastructure with the recent launch of TaiNEX 2; and wearing its newly-minted Michelin-star status proudly.
Pu Lin, director of arts, Taiwan Creative Industry Development (which oversees Huashan 1914 Creative Park), said: “There is only one Huashan. Foreign companies like Google like to come here, and make use of our unique indoor and outdoor spaces to present their products. TedX Taipei is also held here every year.”
In addition to being a function space, Huashan 1914 Creative Park also doubles up as lifestyle destination for delegates to explore in their free time, as there are quaint shops and hole-in-the-wall cafes that have set up homes here.
Similarly, the 14-hectare Taipei Expo Park also has a lifestyle component – the 9,900m2 Maji Square, filled with more than 80 lifestyle shops and F&B options. The park also has numerous indoor and outdoor spaces, three of which are dedicated for MICE groups: the Expo Dome, Eco Ark, and Expo Hall.
Rich Shen, director administration management of Taipei EXPO Foundation which manages Taipei Expo Park, shared: “We can hold tradeshows and gala dinners at the Eco Dome; while large-scale performances or speeches can head to the Expo Hall which can seat 1,200 comfortably. Our main target are exhibitions, mainly from the Asia-Pacific market.”
Elsewhere in Taipei, the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center Hall 2 (TaiNEX 2) began operations on March 4 this year, expanding the city’s MICE infrastructure. The US$240 million venue features 30,240m2 of exhibition space, a 6,100m2 Sky Garden (opening in November), and 14 conference rooms – where the largest can hold 3,600 guests.
Just across the road, TaiNEX 1 has 45,360m2 of exhibition space, a 22,680m2 column-free Sky Dome, and nine conference rooms. When combined, TaiNEX is the country’s largest exhibition venue.
“It is very convenient to hold events here, as within a five-minute-drive radius are six hotels, and in 2022, there will be an additional hotel and shopping centre nearby,” revealed Philip Huang, executive director of TaiNEX 2.
When asked how Taipei’s MICE business has fared over the years, project manager of ABLY Conference and Exhibition (part of Taiwan Tour DMC), Lilly Lee, shared that she has seen the city’s MICE sector grow year-on-year, since the company started handling MICE around a decade ago.
“But competition is pretty tough, versus other MICE destinations in Asia-Pacific like Thailand (Bangkok), Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan. While Taiwan may be cheaper than South Korea and Japan, we are more expensive than Bangkok,” she shared.
Hence, she stressed that during a pitch, they focus on Taiwan’s unique points and cultural attractions. For instance, one new way to sell Taipei was through gastronomic adventures, thanks to the inaugural Michelin Guide Taipei which launched in 2018, featuring a total of 110 dining establishments.
For instance, MICE groups can arrange to dine in a private room at three-Michelin-star Cantonese restaurant Le Palais, the only restaurant to be bestowed with three stars. Delegates can also go on a gastronomic hunt for the 10 street food vendors listed in the guide during the evenings after a long day of meetings.
To which, Lee Jerchin, deputy managing director, Taipei MICE Office, added: “Another of Taipei’s advantages is that you can get to the mountain, or to the seashore and ocean, within an hour from the city. Not many cities have such natural resources, is safe to walk about, and where the locals are friendly.”
The ultimate goal, he pointed out, was to “bring Taipei’s name to the international masses”, as “we want to be the top MICE city in Asia”, acknowledging that it is going to be a tough road ahead. Currently, Taipei sits at sixth position on ICCA’s 2018 city rankings, which he feels can be improved.
The contribution to economic benefit was the basis of a four-year plan (2019 to 2022) created by the Taipei City Government, where the first step was the establishment of the Taipei MICE Office. Next steps include the recruitment of ambassadors for the city; the recruitment of five international advisors to provide expertise; and outbound promotions through tradeshows and roadshows such as IMEX Frankfurt, IMEX America, and IT&CM Asia.
“We are also working closely with private stakeholders like PCOs, where together we work to identify the best chances of bringing in an international meeting. Aside from providing venue information, we also provide support letters from the government, as well as subventions,” he shared.
“MICE is important for Taipei City, and currently, the sector only makes up one per cent of the city’s GDP, hence there’s definitely lots of room for growth. Taipei – and Taiwan as a whole – is well developed in international trade in many industries, but not so much in the MICE sector,” Taipei’s MICE Office’s Lee concluded.