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Unlocking the potential of MICE bookings in 2019

Projected to reach US$1.2bn by 2023, the global MICE (meeting, incentives, conferences and events) market presents a huge opportunity for hoteliers. Click. explores the trends set to shape the sector in 2019

It’s an exciting time for the MICE industry, with demand for meetings and events expected to rise by 5-10% in 2019. We delve into some of the trends and technologies currently at the forefront of this boom.

Automation

With the amount of time-consuming work often involved in group bookings, one technology making waves in the MICE world is automation. “Automation can reduce costs by replacing manual steps within existing workflows,” says Dale Dawson, Product Director, Group Product Development, IBS Software.

Automation has the potential to not only impact the event itself, but also the planning stage, says Evert Schuele, VP Sales, EAME & SWA at Hyatt: “If you think about technology impacting the MICE sector, it’s a very innovative sector so making sure you have the latest technologies, like automation, on display is absolutely key.”

Small is the new big

With the rise of SMEs and an increase in disposable income, meetings are being held more frequently at smaller scale. “We’re seeing companies finding more value in adding smaller meetings to their calendar,” says Suzanne Halperin, VP of Catering & Banquet Brand Operations, Kimpton Hotels. “It provides more opportunity for personal, face-to-face connections with their teams.”

"If you look at the MICE sector [in] general I think you will see an increase of smaller meetings taking place," says Schuele. “Industries that are holding meeting and events in hotels have looked at smaller meeting set ups in general. One reason being that smaller groups have a stronger focus on content and detailed information sharing to a more targeted audience."

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Photo: Annie Spratt, Unsplash

Event planners are noticing a shift in expectations as more millennials enter the market. Photo: Annie Spratt, Unsplash

Experiences

As the market changes and more millennials start travelling for business, event planners are noticing a shift in expectations compared to previous generations. “We’ve noticed that guests, especially millennials, are looking for more immersive, experiential environments,” says Halperin. “Guests are no longer satisfied with just a convenient place to meet, they want meeting spaces to offer more personality, introduce attendees to something new or provide an unexpected experience.”

Personalisation

There was a lot of speculation around personalisation this year and it seems that the buzzword will continue to shape the MICE sector in 2019, with the expectation that intelligent use of data will be complimented with more human touches.

“Personalisation is king at setting standout meeting spaces apart from the mediocre,” says Halperin. “This is especially important in a time when technology is evolving quickly and being woven into more aspects of everyday life. Meeting and event spaces that are able to effectively leverage technology without losing their personal touch is what will be trending in 2019 and beyond.”

Demand is quickly rising for unique event and meeting spaces that are out of the ordinary

Personalisation is often driven by the purpose of the meeting or event, so it's crucial hoteliers take time to listen to the needs of a group. "For personalisation, there's an importance placed on understanding the extrinsic and intrinsic values of what a customer is looking for and what the aim, purpose and objective of that event is," says Schuele. "Understanding that comes to the forefront because then you can steer and manage the human interaction aspect. Whatever the meeting planner or delegate is wanting to achieve can then be catered for quite easily."

Another way to incorporate personalisation is by accommodation branding requests. “One of the things I’ve always been open to is really partnering with our group customers to make their event exactly how they want it, and that typically involves branding at some point,” says Glenn Sampert, General Manager at The Liberty Hotel. “I know a lot of hotels are very hesitant to allow a customer to brand within their building unless it’s just inside their meeting room, but I feel that providing these opportunities can really make the group’s customers also feel like they belong at the hotel. We definitely cater to branding beyond banners, the extent of which is only limited by the creativity of our customers.”

Creative spaces

Demand is quickly rising for unique event and meeting spaces that are out of the ordinary, tying in with offering guests an alternative experience. Halperin predicts “an increase in the use of multi-faceted spaces,” while CWT forecasts the use of unusual outdoors spaces like treehouses, rooftops, and even islands, along with ‘Festivalisation’ as key trends for 2019.

As new expectations emerge within the market, one thing is clear: “I think it’s important for everyone to stay educated and stay aware, because this is an area that’s going to evolve and improve," says Dawson. "We’re going to see new, unexpected trends and technologies that are going to come into this space.”


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Hero image: credit to Headway, Unsplash

Takeaway
  • The MICE (meetings, events, conferences and events) market is expected rise by 5-10% in 2019
  • More millennials are now entering the sector and bringing a new set of expectations with them
  • Personalisation will continue to shape the industry in 2019
  • Demand is quickly rising for unique event and meeting spaces that are out of the ordinary

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