During a familiarisation trip in August to the poetically green Hangzhou in China, I met the Director of MICE for TUI China Travel Co. Ltd, Mr. Xiang Weng, an inspiring and very cheerful person. He told me about the power of the German Travel Company TUI around the world, which also has a department actively involved in the organisation of conferences in China. Tour operation and MICE never caught my interest before, but after hearing his stories I became more positive.
Strangely enough, soon afterwards various studies came to my attention, all originating from tour operators: TUI, American Express, Expedia, etc. Again, usually I’m quite cautious about tourism approaching MICE too closely. However, I’ve come to appreciate the serious side on their reports a bit more.
Tour operators are real experts in two areas: transport and accommodation, two main factors in determining the price of a trip. That’s something conference attendees are very sensitive to nowadays. So, what do these giants have to tell us? TUI’s general message is that prices for transport and hotel visits in Asia should remain constant for 2018, with slight fluctuations at the most. That’s promising news for Asian destinations. On a global level, Issa Jouaneh, Senior Vice President and General Manager, American Express Meetings & Events, states:
“Following the shifting sentiment in 2017, next year should be more positive around the world in terms of spend, number of meetings and attendees. Meanwhile, meeting owners are prioritizing attendee experience and engagement over scale. As a result, we expect to see shorter, more focused meetings.”
The aforementioned studies prove the high value placed on knowledge and expertise by the MICE departments at major tour operators these days.
A delegation of nine members of the major MICE departments for Dutch tour operators travelled to Athens early this month. This study trip was organised by TravelMarketing and transavia.com, in collaboration with the Greek DMC Horizon.I have to admit, I’ve been ignoring these Meetings Industry developments for too long. To the members of ETOA (European Tour Operators Association – over 900 members) I say: keep an eye out for my articles in the future.
Marcel A.M. Vissers
HeadQuarters & MIM Europe magazine
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