Returning from CIBTM

IBTM Events, 15 Aug 2011 10:30

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Returning from our 6th CIBTM in Beijing, has given me time to reflect on the remarkable growth of the MICE industry in Asia and specifically in China. From such small beginnings, this year's event (the biggest to date) highlighted how, through a determined effort, the infrastructure for the sector can continue to develop exponentially. The sheer number of international exhibitors also showed how great the expectation is for outbound business from the region not just in the future but also immediate. As if to prove the point the Annual Industry Research for China and Asia Meetings Industry presented during CIBTM proved just how huge the potential for growth will be.

For example the Buyer respondents to this year's survey showed that currently the most popular outbound destinations are still in the Asian region but they are closely followed by Europe, Middle East and Africa, so its not surprising that to get the attention of these buyers, destinations, products and services really do have to be part of CIBTM. Some exhibitors have been at the event since the beginning and have seen how the industry has gone from one that (for example) really didn't know where a country called Italy or Sicily was located on the world map, to, in just a short period of time, organizing incentives with a sophisticated brief that has astounded some of our exhibiting companies.

To get in front of these planners and buyers, who, incidentally, are still Travel Agency's - the number 1 third party organisers currently in China - although the role of the PCO is growing annually and is now in 2nd position, exhibitors really do have to be at CIBTM as it has established itself as the region's only MICE event that offers the business solution. A great example of why came from the Japan National Tourism Organisation who told us that CIBTM was a "tremendous platform for them to show the world that Japan is doing well in the aftermath of the mega earthquake and that they are ready to welcome the MICE industry back". Similarly the General Manager from Beijing Mandarin International Travel Company said that whilst they have attended since the first year as well as other events in our global meetings portfolio, this one really does help grow his MICE business as its a "great and effective platform".

Professional industry qualifications are now also part of this growth structure and clearly of great importance. With 45 people taking the first ever CMP exam held in China during CIBTM, again, its just another sign of the pace at which the region's MICE sector is developing. It also shows that there is the understanding the learning process and continual development of staff will help overcome some of the issues highlighted in the research. The results, which are available in full on, show a serious need for China to focus on improvement of its infrastructure to affect the increase in conference and event business in China and Asia. The number 1 influence will come from a need for a better understanding of the requirements of international business visitors followed by training and professional qualifications for employees (hence the rush to do the first CMP exams maybe?), service, infrastructure development, costs and budgets, improving visa procedures and formalities, safety and security. So whilst we really do expect to continue to grow, the sector needs investment at all levels and it has to remain active 365 to help stimulate that growth regionally and locally.

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