The key factor behind Asia becoming the favourite among business travellers is its top notch convention centres. The region offers numerous world class convention centres providing state-of-the-art facilities for multifarious MICE events.
Among them, Vietnam has earned a reputation as one of the best MICE destinations in Asia thanks to its convention centres offering exceptional services, infrastructure, location and audio-video facilities.
Global overarching MICE trends
Meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE) is an important component of the hospitality and tourism industry, and drivers economic development in many destinations. Generating millions in revenue annually, this dynamic sector is evolving at a tremendous pace.
The demand for meetings is on the rise and though not all companies are splurging, luxury venues are not being ruled out either and some emerging trends are evident.
Gone are the days where venues are only expected to be equipped with high speed internet connection and an overhead projector. Technology, such as virtual assistants and artificial intelligence, positively impact guest experiences. The provision of virtual and augmented reality, webcasting, live streaming and video conferencing is becoming increasingly important for venues to stay at the top of the game.
Organizers’ preferences also lean towards business meetings that offer authentic experiences. Many organizers now look for venues that provide tranquil settings, giving rise to a demand of business meetings at locations that lie closer to nature. “Go local” is another growing trend-guests desire to be immersed in local culture and authentic travel experiences are highly sought-after.
Events are required to be more experiential as organizers yearn for unique, tailor-made experiences rather than a cookie-cutter approach. Flexible meeting spaces are near the top of every participant’s wishlist.
Additionally there is a growing need for organisers to create more interaction and involvement from the audience. Younger generations tend to be less keen on traditional speakers and prefer engagement to instruction. Interactive elements, greater collaboration among people and information exchange sessions are now more critical. People are opting for fresh and healthy food, instead of sweet pastries, with a strong emphasis on “brain food”.
Vietnam’s MICE meets global trends
Though Vietnam’s MICE sector is developing toward luxury, budget constraints have not vanished and purse strings are far from being completely loosened.
The prospects for the MICE industry in Vietnam are looking very bright. With the economy improving, there is once again a renewed demand for exhibitions, meetings and events to showcase the latest products or for brainstorming sessions or simply for attracting clients.
Vietnam is promoting itself as an emerging MICE venue in Asia to attract event organizers. Travel companies and the hospitality sector are offering specialised MICE services and activities for high-end clients.
As Daniel Solombrino, hotel manager of InterContinental Saigon Hotel & Residence, says, “Vietnam, with its rich history and diverse culture, has hundreds of famous attractions across the country and we have seen an unbelievable expansion in the number of hotels and resorts in the last ten years being built to cope with the increasing demand.”
“The opportunities I see from my early observations is that Vietnam is emerging fast and will overtake other traditional destinations in the segment of MICE as direct connectivity to the country has been on the increase and this should continue to be the case,” said Fraser Ross, general manager of Pullman Danang Beach Resort.
Additionally, improvements in infrastructure in the city are on the rise and the blend of culture, sun and sea, and a warm hospitable community will continue stimulating this interest. Private sector tourism entities and the government can work hand in hand to create awareness in regions that are looking for new destinations.
Also according to Fraser, the leisure traveller is a platform for increasing the output of MICE. Experiencing a great holiday in such beach destinations as Phu Quoc island, Danang, Nha Trang or Halong Bay spreads back home to the office and here you have your next event in these spots.
Ben Wieglus from Informa Singapore, an exhibition and event organisation company, said MICE industry brings added value to socio-economic and cultural development, but can leave negative impacts on natural resources, and further research into how to mitigate the impacts is required.
He suggested Vietnam should focus on highlighting its unique features of food, culture, and festivals, and advised local enterprises to enhance international partnerships.
Furthermore, according to tourism experts, Vietnam has a stable political system, which is a favourable condition for holding important events and conferences.
Vietnam has the experience of hosting many big events such as APEC 2017, ASEAN Summit 2010, ASEAN Tourism Forum-ATF 2009 and the 18th Global Women Summit.
Of all the foreign countries which have chosen Vietnam as their MICE tours’ destination, China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, and Malaysia have contributed the most to the growth of MICE tourism in Vietnam, and Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are currently the most attractive cities for MICE tours.
After Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the economic, political and social centres to host major important international or national events, other attractive MICE hotspots include cities or provinces with good infrastructure, beautiful landscapes and fresh air such as Halong, Danang, Nha Trang, Phan Thiet, Vung Tau, and Phu Quoc.
According to Tran Doan The Duy, deputy general manager of Vietravel, the number of MICE tourists accounts for 60% of the company’s total customers. In particular, the number of international and domestic tourists account for 37% and 63%, respectively.
The number of tourists on a MICE tour of Vietravel may be in the hundreds, with this number sometimes rising to the thousands.
What they need most is professionalism and high level services. For MICE tourists, price is not as important as service quality and creativity.
Nguyen Cong Hoan, deputy general director of Hanoi Redtours, said that MICE tours are rising in both quantity and quality.
“Previously, a group of tourists on an incentive tour or MICE tour spent 95% of their budget on hotels, food, flights and other essentials, and only 5% on other activities.
However, currently, there are some tours with 95% of the budget spent on MICE activities. Some of our customers pay up to VND1 billion (US$44,000) for a MICE tour, and of the total, VND500-600 million (US$22,000-26,400) is spent on MICE activities such as galas and conferences,” Hoan said.