The MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) and luxury travel business are two sectors of tourism that are becoming increasingly important and are beginning to operate in tandem. With the opinion widely held amongst experts that the MICE ‘tigers’ of Southeast Asia, Singapore and Malaysia, are nearing maximum capacity in terms of venues, Vietnam is seen as the fastest growing MICE destination-with the potential to become a serious competitor in the near future.
In 2016, Hanoi, Danang, Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City added many more 4 and 5 star international hotels, many of them targeting the MICE market such as the Marriott in Hanoi, Melia Danang, and Intercontinental Nha Trang.
This has positively impacted tourism recovery in Vietnam, with local and foreign travel agencies receiving significantly more MICE requests, especially from India, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand, with group sizes ranging from 50 to 300 people.
According to Pham Ha, CEO of Luxury Travel Vietnam, his company received fifty MICE groups last year, most recently from Thailand. The group spent four days in Hanoi and Halong bay ending with a gala dinner at Intercontinental Westlake Hanoi Hotel. “We also organized a two-day incentive for 100 delegates costing US$400 per day in Ho Chi Minh City. The cost of an average luxury tour ranges from US$2,500 to US$3,500 per person for a seven day tour, with some tours priced at over US$1,000 a day per visitors,” said Ha.
High-end travellers often have the means to travel in terms of money and time. Companies have served an estimated 10,000 high-end travellers to Vietnam with VIP guests including ambassadors, royal families, prime ministers, and a range of celebrities.
Corporate companies and MICE planners in Vietnam invariably gravitate towards the cities of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and those in Central Vietnam when choosing a destination for their off-site meetings and incentive trips. As major gateways into the country, these are the logical choices, with the infrastructure and services to handle the unique needs of event organizers and meeting planners. Danang and Nha Trang still have plenty of hidden attractions for visitors to discover.
With Vietnam being recognized as a viable destination for MICE, the tourism industry, especially luxury hotels and airlines, is promoting the country’s central coast for MICE events. Combines with its unique and fascinating culture and the natural beauty of the region, Central Vietnam is an ideal location for event planners who can be assured of a well-planned and successful outcome.
Vietnam is able to cater for MICE events of all scales in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and now Central Vietnam in the cities of Hue, Danang, Hoi An and Nha Trang. The country offers a wide selection of international standard hotels of international standard hotels with state-of-the-art conference facilities and meeting rooms as well as a variety of natural and cultural attractions to suit all tastes, such as golf courses, relaxation activities, health and spa facilities and fine cuisine.
Thanks to Danang and Nha Trang being chosen as the destinations for APEC 2017, the two cities are being recognized as important hubs for ‘Luxury MICE’. Billionaires from across the globe, including the Middle East and Asia, will fly to Danang in their private planes for a financial and tourism conference taking place at the InterContinental Danang.
According to TripAdvisor, Hue and Nha Trang were two destinations in Vietnam on the rise in 2016. Nha Trang’s infrastructure has been upgraded, its airport is expanding with new flights operating both regionally and internationally, and more brand-name hotels and resorts are opening up. Boasting 300 days of sunshine each year, deep blue water and endless white sand, Nha Trang has been among the top destinations in Vietnam for both domestic and international tourists for many years.
Though Vietnam has plenty of hotels suitable for the MICE market, its airports, roads, railways and logistics still require improvements in order to better serve MICE travellers and to be able to compete with Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
Emerging MICE destinations such as Danang need more international airline links before they can realise their potential.
Above all, a MICE department should be established in Vietnam to effectively promote the country in key markets. As it stands, there is a lack of professional staff able to fulfil this role. Despite the current financial crisis, the Asian market is strong in the MICE market and Vietnam must focus on this.
“Vietnam still has a long way to go before becoming a regional MICE destination, but we are eager to tap into this market. The country has much to offer MICE planners and travellers seeking authentic experiences. Danang and Nha Trang in particular are perfect for 8-leisure (business and leisure). I feel confident that the country will experience recovery in MICE tourism in 2017-2018,” said Pham Ha.