Back to business: Australia, Indonesia, Japan

Asia’s key MICE cities are packing their event calendars with regional and international events. Here is a round-up on how busy they will be in 2023

Melbourne’s momentum for events is translating into a solid calendar for bookings this year, thanks partly to a successful AIME event in 2022 that effectively played a key role in kickstarting the industry.

“I think 2023 will definitely be strong. We (currently) have 60 events on the books for 2023, said Julia Swanson, Melbourne Convention Bureau’s CEO. Major events include the Rotary International Convention, the largest convention of its nature held in Melbourne with some 17,000 delegates from over 200 countries.

Sydney Opera House, Sydney

What’s also helped MCB’s success story is the fact that some 70 per cent of its business comes from the associations sector, which Swanson said has been a steady market as US and Europe reopened months before other markets.

“There are still a lot of associations, corporate and incentives making decisions for 2023 and 2024. But we are definitely on a very strong upward trajectory. I believe we have A$386 million worth of bids underway for events through to 2028. That is an incredibly strong pipeline,” she added.

The positive outlook is echoed by what local event planners like Georgie Stayches, chief engagement officer at Fetching Events & Communications, are seeing.

“(For us), 2022 has been one of the biggest years we’ve probably had in 13 years of business and 2023 is already shaping up to be just as big, if not bigger,” said Stayches.

“Business has come back with a vengeance, which brings its own challenges but it’s certainly (looking) very healthy.”

Stayches also observed that the industry’s staffing and service standards issues have improved in recent months, although the much shorter lead times for bookings could stay for a while.

“I had an event confirmed last week for next week. My gut feeling is this is not necessarily (just) a Covid thing where people need to feel safe as the event gets closer. I think people’s behaviours have changed, whether it’s how they eat out or book their holidays. That 12-month planning cycle has gone out the window,” she added. 
– Adelaine Ng

Business Events Sydney (BESydney) is forecasting a significant year with a number of confirmed events like the FIFA Women’s World Cup, World Pride Festival, and South by Southwest tech conference.

This comes off the back of a strong 2022 that saw the city host more than 30 global meetings, including the 20th International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering that welcomed 900 delegates from 70 countries.

Sydney also announced last November it won 14 bids in two months, with a combined direct expenditure of A$40 million, adding to Sydney’s business events pipeline through to 2029 with 85 global and national events.

“That said, there are still a number of markets to recover,” said Kristian Nicholls, executive general manager client engagement, BESydney.

“The global association market is strong and it will be a record year for us (but) the global corporate and incentive market is still in recovery so it’s definitely a transition year for Sydney,” he continued.

Sydney is also establishing three innovation precincts in technology, medical and health, and a “brand new city being built around our new airport that will be opening end-2026,” added Nicholls.

But while Sydney is starting to see markets out of South-east Asia return, it is India that has emerged.

“The international market is nowhere what it used to be, but the first to come back in any sort of volume is the incentive market out of India,” said Matthew Talbot, director of sales and marketing, Hyatt Regency Sydney. “In 2019, we would get one or two Indian groups in a quarter but now we’re talking every other week. We’re also getting a lot more enquiries from Singapore.”

Talbot also said the hotel has forecast to still rely on the domestic market for the first six months of 2023 before seeing a more buoyant return of international business. – Adelaine Ng

Business event players in Bali are all smiles thanks to the promising outlook for 2023.

Oriol Montal, general manager of The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali & Bali International Convention Centre, said that the property has received a similar number of business leads for 2023 when compared to 2019, with bookings from December 2022 to March 2023 looking “strong”.

rice terraces in Bali

Similarly, Vincent Guironnet, general manager of The Apurva Kempinski Bali, told TTGmice that demand from corporate incentives from South-east Asia and Australia have increased.

Melali MICE is also reporting similar positive signs, where the company handled 25 events in 2022, a 25 per cent increase from 2019.

“This will generate higher revenues and profit margins, which is a sign that the business has fully returned to pre-Covid levels,” said I Ketut Jaman, Managing Director of Melali MICE.

And with China’s reopening, Ketut projects that Chinese business travellers will dominate arrivals to Bali in 2023.

However, the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Centre will be focusing on the domestic market – comprising MNCs in Jakarta and association meetings – for 2023, as seat capacity is still an issue, stated the centre’s president director Riyanthi Handayani.

Jeanie Anawangwulan, CEO of JP Pro Bali, concurred, pointing out that domestic opportunities will be even greater because 2023 is when political parties will hold many events. “We have mapped out at least 132 events that will happen in 2023,” she said. – Tiara Maharani

Jakarta’s business event players are confident that the industry will continue to grow and recover strongly in 2023.

The optimism is based on data from the Indonesian Exhibition Companies Association (IECA), where the number of exhibitions held in 2H2022 – which was when permits were issued – totalled 168.

For Jakarta Convention Center (JCC), the venue is 70 per cent booked up until October 2023, said Hosea Andreas Runkat, chairman of the IECA and director of JCC.

Things are also looking up for Alcor MICE, and event sizes are getting bigger with an average of 500 to 3,000 pax, said Jim Tehusijarana, director of holding company Alcor Prime. In 2H2022, Alcor MICE was averaging four events every month.

Jakarta will also play host to several events such as the FIFA U-20 World Cup, and ASEAN-related events as Indonesia is ASEAN chairman in 2023.

AI Nyoman Sarya, vice president operations Singgasana Hotels & Resort, is confident that business in 2023 will improve by 30 per cent when compared to 2022.

For Reza Abdullah, president director & CEO of Royalindo Convention International, said that 2023 will be more interesting as the market will not be dominated by government events like 2022, which means that there are “opportunities to reap better profits”. – Tiara Maharani

Business events specialists in Tokyo are juggling multiple RFPs that have swept in as soon as reopening signs emerged for Japan in August, with interest and enquiries surging after entry barriers were lifted on October 11.

Shinichi Sawa, secretariat of DMO Roppongi and a representative of Grand Hyatt Tokyo, said his hotel has been getting a daily average of 10 RFPs since the reopening date was announced in September, and international meetings, conventions and incentives have resumed very swiftly.

Showa Memorial Park in Tachikawa, Tokyo

The intense demand for Tokyo is no surprise, opined Shota Fukami, a travel consultant with DMC Beauty of Japan (BOJ), as the capital region is often the first destination that comes to mind when companies consider Japan for their events.

“Many DMCs, not just ours, are very busy responding to client requests and enquiries,” Fukami said, adding that the bulk of RFPs received by BOJ come from the US and Europe, with some from Hong Kong.

TAS Co., a Tokyo-based DMC, is working on confirming several projects with Indonesian clients that were postponed during the pandemic; these are likely to take place in 2023.

As halal facilities are easily accessible in major cities like Tokyo, TAS Co.’s sales and marketing officer, Agusta Dwi Lawriko Ridzwan, said the destination is a hot favourite among his Indonesian clients.

Fukami noted that present demand is blurring the lines between off-peak and peak travel seasons, creating a valuable opportunity for DMCs to demonstrate Tokyo’s year-round appeal.

While the peak seasons for inbound travel used to be March and April in spring, and October and November in autumn, events have returned since August 2022.

Fukami believes that it is up to DMCs to create itineraries across seasons to encourage clients to hold their events outside of peak periods.

“Offering a variety of itineraries different from what clients were used to pre-pandemic also creates a chance for us to introduce lesser-known areas in Tokyo.

“Most foreigners are not familiar with the regions beyond the Tokyo city centre. They may not have heard of places like Tama region or Hachioji city, so we can promote experiences in these areas and change their perception of the Tokyo metropolis as a MICE destination,” he said.

Fukami’s observations coincide with Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau’s move to play up business-events-ready destinations across Greater Tokyo.

Yuka Murata, representative of Business Events Tokyo, told TTGmice: “There is more than just the familiar city centre of Tokyo for events. There is so much to do and experience across Tokyo.

“By educating planners on the versatility of the Tokyo Metropolis, we will not only inspire programmes to offer more variety, but also encourage longer stays in the city, and drive more tourism revenue deeper into the surrounding communities.” – Karen Yue

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