Many eyes are on the rapidly expanding MICE market in Asia Pacific, which has overtaken North America to become the second-largest MICE market in recent years, and is expected to surpass the European market in the future.
Oliver Kinross had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Stuart Bailey, General Manager of Diversified Communications Hong Kong, and Vice-Chairman of the Hong Kong Exhibitions and Conventions Industry Association (HKECIA). Mr. Bailey has been an integral part of the growth of the MICE industry in Asia, and here he shares with us his insights on the trends and success factors in the events industry in Asia.
More Expectations on Event Contents
Mr. Bailey points to the inrceasing focus on the content of events as an important trend in the Asian MICE market. Traditionally, Mr Bailey remarks, conventions are just a place for buyers and sellers to meet and connect. Nowadays, however, increasing competition and the maturing of Asia's MICE market means that events need to provide more value.
Companies are looking for events that make the 'best use of their time', says Mr. Bailey. In order to be competitive, events now need to provide not only networking opportunities, but also learning opportunities, such as high-quality seminars, workshops and discussion panels.
Technology and People Power
Mr. Bailey also discusses the role of technology in Asia's events industry. He believes that Asia Pacific is leading in the use of events technology, but also points out that the signifiance of events technology may be exaggerated.
People come to shows because they want to do business face to face. There is something powerful in being able to shake people's hands, look them in the eye, and know that they can trust each other. But that cannot be done with technology alone.
'It's an enabler, but it's not what people come to events for,' says Mr. Bailey, noting that while technology helps facilitate events, it is not enough for getting sales or striking deals. It is the people power of conventions and events that makes it happen.
Community Building the Key to Success
So what is the key to success for an event in Asia Pacific? 'Community', answers Mr. Bailey. With the rise of social media, there is clearly the need and opportunity to build an online community for an event. But apart from a virtual community, it is also important to make event participants feel included and involved, to feel like part of the show.
Mr. Bailey quotes from his own experience running an event that is now in its 12th year. 'The first six years were harder, because you need to push the event on your clients,' he says. 'But it gets much easier once you are past that tipping point,' as companies become part of the community and feel invested in the show.
At the bottom line, the event industry is made up of people. Understanding what your clients need, engaging your audience, and creating content that is worthwhile for your attendees are the way to go, in Asia as in anywhere else.