Businesses must transform as industry is “ripe for rupture”, say experts

Even though the Covid-19 pandemic has endangered the traditional business events industry, its proponents say that the outbreak has in fact highlighted event models that were obsolete even before the virus broke.

Speaking at a webinar hosted by ICCA and TTG earlier this month, Oscar Cerezales, global executive vice president, COO Asia Pacific, MCI Group, said: “There absolutely may be sections of the MICE value chain that will become obsolete, but some were already obsolete even before Covid-19.

Event models with large number of participants will become obsolete, predicted panellists

“Many of these are eroded models – people are still thinking of the thousands of delegates attending a congress – but this will change. Destinations and industries that are obsessed with one client segment are ripe for rupture. The whole industry is ready for a shake.”

Large-scale conventions are expected to become a rarity, due to travel budget cuts, risk of contamination at big events, and reduced motivation to spend on expensive passes, noted Alexandre de Juniac, director general & CEO, IATA.

Instead, Cerezales predicted that the next level of events will successfully find a “new way of segmenting audiences” according to location, which influences their digital and physical attendance. One way to do so is by striking partnerships with broadcasting platforms, such as Zoom.

“The Zoom guys may be a competitor of PCOs and convention centres, but you can see them as partners and collaborators instead,” he said.

For Taiwan-based PCO GIS Group, change comes in the form of restructuring its organisational model to transform its staff into an “amoeba”, shared Jason Yeh, the company’s founder & CEO.

He explained: “Traditionally, PCOs have different teams on different projects, and each team handles the project from beginning to end. But we recently restructured to break this model.

“We separate our team into different parts like an amoeba so that people can form teams very quickly. The company culture needs to be very open and transparent to keep talent, and be very clear on the status of the project so that people can easily jump in to join the taskforce.”

Government agencies also have an opportunity to shake things up.

For example, the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) has disrupted its role as a CVB to function not just as a supporter and facilitator of business events, but also as a “co-creator with the private sector”, described Nichapa Yoswee, senior vice president, TCEB.

She continued: “We work very closely with associations and position ourselves as a strategic partner. We discuss ideas and collaborate with other government agencies to facilitate the running of big or small events. We see ourselves as a thought leader alongside our industry friends.”

She remarked that the perspective shift comes in using business events as “a marketing tool” for the country, as well as a means to “bring in positive economic and social impact” for local communities.

“The government will play an important part in MICE in the new world,” she concluded.

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