Outbound agents from Asia’s two most populous countries, China and India, have noticed rumblings in the business travel sector, with demand set to grow next year.
Alicia Yao, managing director, IME Consulting based in China, said her clients from direct selling companies, healthcare and pharmaceutical companies have expressed interest in travelling for overseas business events next year.
This sentiment is buoyed by the Chinese government‚Äôs ongoing efforts in developing a Covid-19 vaccine. Expected to be ready next year, Yao said the vaccine is driving confidence in the market that travelling abroad for meetings and incentives is finally possible.
Yao was speaking at a recent hour-long webinar, Asia Pacific Business Events Comeback, jointly organised by Business Events Sarawak and Conference People.
Fellow speaker, Nitin Sachdeva, CEO of India-based Venture Marketing, said his corporate clients were also showing interest in overseas trips, shorthaul and overland journeys being favoured.
Group sizes will depend on the capacity of airlines operating out of India, although Sachdeva believes clients will start small and gradually increase participation alongside improved flight frequencies.
He also predicts that planners will lean towards destinations that have contained the outbreak well, and have health, hygiene and safety protocols in place.
‚ÄúFlexibility in bookings is also very important in instilling confidence in the absence of a vaccine,‚ÄĚ he opined.
Event risks have pushed more clients to approach CVBs directly for RFPs ‚Äď as opposed to DMCs ‚Äď due to a desire for more reliable commitment from the destination and its bureau towards the event, according to Yao. Doing so would spare the client from problems should a DMC fold, she ventured.
As such, CVBs now have to collate information from DMCs and send out a proposal on their behalf, she explained.
Sachdeva added that “overseas convention bureaus will play a big role in building trust and confidence in their destinations”.
Also present at the webinar was Abdul Khani Daud, CEO, Malaysia Convention & Convention Bureau, who shared that there is a now a greater need for CVBs in South-east Asia to collaborate.
Nichapa Yoswee, senior vice president, strategic marketing and business development, Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau, agreed that collaboration was the way forward, and that “a positive mindset” was needed to create “a different experience” when welcoming business groups in the future.