Kuala Lumpur’s MICE scene bubbles with optimism

Forward event bookings for Kuala Lumpur's (pictured) hotels and venues are looking healthy

The business events industry in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, is seeing brighter days ahead, although pre-pandemic levels of events will take more time to achieve, stakeholders indicate.

Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre’s general manager, Alan Pryor, shared: “We expect international business events to go up by 20 per cent in 2023 as we are currently recording a continuous upwards trend in events beyond 2022. This will grow further as global economic recovery progressively improves.”

Forward event bookings for Kuala Lumpur’s (pictured) hotels and venues are looking healthy

The Centre has seen a significant increase in demand for in-person events, with up to 127 global meetings (51 conventions and 76 exhibitions) booked at the venue from this year up to 2024.

In 2Q2022, the Centre is slated to host about 300 in-person events, 66 per cent of which are domestic, 20 per cent international and the rest regional.

However, Pryor expects business evens to return to near 2019 levels only in 2024.

He pointed out: “While the demand for in-person events is strong, safety concerns around international travel remain. (Moreover), companies are in recovery mode and are operating at lower budget so business travel is kept to a minimal due to the price hike in flight tickets and accommodation.

“All these combined with other global issues such as the war in Europe act as deterrents to business events’ recovery.”

For Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur’s general manager, Michael Delargy, bookings for corporate events for events in 2H2022 started rolling in from May this year.

He noticed that lead times for small and midscale events have also become shorter, and due to the current high demand for event spaces, event organisers are less inclined to negotiate prices as their priority is to secure their preferred venue.

At press time, regional and international bookings for venue spaces at Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur were predominantly from Singapore and India.

Delargy also opined that for the hotel to reach 2019 levels for business events, travel restrictions had to be lifted globally.

Over at The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur, Sheryl Lim, executive assistant manager – sales & marketing, told TTGmice: “Forward business remains strong in 3Q2022 and 4Q2022. We are also seeing some conversions from neighbouring countries to hold their business events at our property.”

Describing how demands and expectations from business organisers have changed compared to pre-pandemic times, Lim shared: “Most event organisers now look for specially curated menu offerings to elevate the dining experience. Organisers are also looking for immediate responses when it comes to proposals and availability. Most conversions we’ve had come from immediate responses.

“WhatsApp has also become the main channel of communication for many organisers who wish to get all details including availability before entering the contracting stage.”

Meanwhile for Pryor, he noticed that sustainability has moved beyond a trend to become a demand.

He observed: “This year, major exhibitions like Food & Hotel Malaysia placed sustainability as a priority in the way the show was organised, managed and delivered.”

To help event organisers better manage their sustainability goals, the Centre has put in place measures such as installing an AI-powered system to track type and quantity of food waste, so that the Centre’s chefs can be more efficient in managing food and production costs, and lessen food wastage.

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