Global - Increase in collaboration amongst industry partners coupled with more subsidies from the government are key drivers of growth for the MICE industry.
In an interview with Marketing Events, Peter Brokenshire (pictured), general manager, KLCC, a multipurpose development area in Kuala Lumpur, said an emerging model of collaboration between destinations, suppliers and associations has developed in the event space.
"There is now a much stronger emphasis on collaboration between industry players and in some instances, profit sharing to ensure a successful meeting. Stakeholders are engaging more, with the venue, destination and associations all having a predetermined role to play," he added.
KLCC collaborates closely with strategic local partners such as Tourism Malaysia, Malaysia Airlines, Malaysia Airports Holdings, Kuala Lumpur City Hall, Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) and industry partners to promote Malaysia and KL as a leading business tourism destination and attract major regional and international conferences.
Subsidies becoming more and more prevalent to attract international events is also helping the industry, he said.
"Digital technology and mobile applications are now a standard part of the conference experience with technology dictating how meetings are run," Brokenshire said.
While technology is used by meeting planners as a service tool for delegates, the medium allows greater engagement through content during the event.
KLCC is also observing a growing trend for a one-stop centre or flexible use of space- confining delegates within the venue throughout the duration of the event, without having them walk from one venue to the other for plenary sessions.
"For the 25th World Gas Conference 2012, we tried to get the over 13,000 visitors including 5,420 delegates remain on-site in the ‘Village Concept' throughout the week-long conference. All spaces of the Centre were fully up by the event for the multiple conferences, plenary and breakout sessions," Brokenshire said.
Sustainability is another concern for most event planners.
"This is something that has become more than just a trend and is increasingly having a real impact on the venue and location choices of professional conference organisers and Associations," Brokenshire said.
KLCC invested as much as RM2 million in green initiatives such as retrofitting exercise for five of its exhibition halls totalling 10,000 square metres. This entailed replacing about 900 of its 250 watts metal halide lamps with light-emitting diodes bulbs to retrofit and improve the lighting efficiency within the building.
While KLCC declined to reveal its competitors in the local market, Brokenshire said the property competes with venues nationally, regionally and internationally with China, India and Indonesia being its major growth markets.
"The property is focused on maintaining a presence in key markets and at relevant industry forums and trade events to expand its presence in North America and China," he added.
Amidst the growth, Brokenshire said it's imperative to keep in mind the value for money the client needs to get. This leads to enhancements or innovation in the product offerings.
For instance, its cosy bean bag-styled meeting format- Beanie Experience- prompts event planners to ditch conventional meeting formats and offer clients an innovative and "out-of-the-normal meeting experience". The property has also added a wide selection of healthy options to meet a growing demand for healthy food and beverage choices for its clients.
The Malaysian market for MICE has proven to be resilient despite the global economic downturn, with the government endorsing business tourism as part of its economic transformation programme (ETP).
ETP aims to transform Kuala Lumpur (KL) into a leading global city and has set aside an investment of RM204 billion. It aims to make KL one of the world's top 20 most liveable cities by 2020.
Citing the example of MyCEB that was formed in 2009, Brokenshire said it provided Malaysia the opportunity to be more competitive in bidding for regional and international meetings.
"The National Key Economic Area Lab under Tourism Malaysia and the KLCC was instrumental in putting forward a case on how business tourism could contribute to the nation's goal of doubling tourism receipts to RM103.5 million (USD32.3 million) by 2020. The result was a RM800 million funding to MyCEB for subvention to drive business tourism events in the country," Brokenshire said.