By Imtiaz Muqbil
Organizers of global meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) are being invited to avail of tantalizing financial incentives to hold a future event in Thailand. Announced by the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) in October 2012, the tactical offer is a key component of “Thailand Connect,” a global marketing campaign designed to help the kingdom achieve a 2014 target of 987,000 MICE visitors from abroad, with revenues projected at THB 96.9 billion (USD 3.09 billion), up 5 and 10 percent, respectively, over the figures projected for 2013.
Corporate buyers and meetings organizers keen to bring their next event to Thailand will be able to entice their clients, corporations, or associations with a variety of options to help them save costs and enhance the participant satisfaction. The exact level of support will depend on the return on investment that the organizers can offer Thailand in terms of the average length of stay, number of participants, and other such measurable indicators.
The “Thailand Connect” campaign was launched at the IT & CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific, which is a major tradeshow for the business and incentive travel and international meetings industries organized annually in Thailand by TTG Asia Media. Now in its 12th year in Thailand, the event was held this year from October 1-3 at the Bangkok Convention Centre at Centara Grand CentralWorld. Altogether, more than 2,600 delegates from 60 countries participated.
Established in 2004, TCEB is a Thai government agency responsible for promoting the MICE sector. It works to drive growth, elevate quality standards, and inspire creativity in the industry.
Nopparat Maythaveekulchai, TCEB’s president, said that owing to their high spending and purchasing power, MICE delegates are a very important component of the Thai travel and tourism industry. In 2012-2013, Thailand hosted a total of 7,382 MICE events, including prestigious mega-events such as the 2012 Rotary International Convention, World Stamp 2013, the 65th World Newspaper Congress, ITU World, Telecom 2013, and more.
Nopparat said the new “Connect” campaign will help the TCEB to enhance the global visibility of the Thailand brand as part of its Five-Year Master Plan (2012–2016). The campaign comprises three key strategies: win, promote, and develop. “The key word here is ‘connect.’ We believe that Thailand can ‘connect’ extremely well with global buyers by offering a combined package of three unique selling propositions,” Nopparat said. These USPs are:
• Diversity of Destinations
Thailand’s strategic location at the heart of Asia, together with its convenient facilities and infrastructure, offer visitors an extensive choice of venues covering five “MICE Cities”: Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Khon Kaen. Six international airports connect to 190 destinations worldwide with more than 500 flights per day. Nine conference and exhibition venues offer a combined total exhibition space of 222,984 square meters.
• Unrivalled Business Opportunities
ASEAN’s second-largest economy is poised to play a leading role in the forthcoming unified regional market of the ASEAN Economic Community, or AEC, in 2015. Economic integration will remove trade barriers and bring free transfer of goods, services, skilled labor, trade, and investment among the ASEAN population of almost 600 million. Thailand is a production and export base for key industries such as automotive and industrial components, computers and IT, energy, rubber, and plastics. In addition, Thailand’s free trade agreements with 11 countries will create more business opportunities.
• High-Quality Professionals
In addition to its legendary hospitality and quality of service, Thailand’s MICE industry has led the world in setting global standards and winning numerous global accolades and awards. ICCA ranked Thailand as worldwide No. 1 by number of international meetings, while UFI ranked Thailand No. 1 by number of international exhibitions.
The market promotion packages backing the Thailand Connect campaign include the following:
1) Connect Destinations
For meetings and incentive travel groups, TCEB offers support of THB 200,000 or about USD 6,660 for events with more than 200 participants. Participants must stay at least five nights in Thailand, including an overnight stay in at least one other province apart from the main meeting location.
2) Connect People
For international conferences, TCEB offers support for events from the ASEAN+6 countries, including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, India, Taiwan, and China (including Hong Kong and Macau).
3) Connect Business
For international exhibitions, TCEB offers special support for business matching activities for trade visitor groups of 15 or more delegates from ASEAN+6 and BIMSTEC countries who travel to attend TCEB-supported international events in Thailand. To qualify for special support of USD 150 per person, the groups must stay a minimum of three days/two nights, with at least 45 business-matching appointments. Each participant will need at least three business matchmaking appointments; for groups with fewer than 45 appointments in total, the level of support will be USD 100 per person.
Nopparat said that “the MICE industry has always played a key role in driving the broader economy, earning revenues of approximately THB 80 billion, or about USD 2.66 billion per year. During the 2013 fiscal year, from October 2012 to August 2013, Thailand welcomed 993,072 MICE travelers, with revenue of over THB 86,280 billion (USD 2.87 billion). Top MICE visitors were from the conventions industry (318,663 visitors), followed by incentive travellers (247,888 visitors), corporate meetings (237,701 visitors), and exhibitions (188,820 visitors).
The IT & CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific is an important trade show for Thailand because roughly 60% of all the exhibitors and sellers are based in the kingdom, most of them from upcountry destinations. This year marked the first turnout by five Thai cities that are actively promoting MICE events: Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Khon Kaen. In addition, Airports of Thailand (AoT) also promoted its six international airports, Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang (in Bangkok), Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Haad Yai, as gateways for the growing number of regional airlines that are providing direct connectivity to the secondary cities right across ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific regions.
The Royal Thai government and the private sector encourage these promotions because the national social and economic development strategy specifically calls for efforts to better spread tourism income around the country and narrow the “development deficit” between both urban and rural areas and the rich and poor income segments of the population. The reasoning is that the more MICE events that can be held in the provinces, especially those in the small and medium-sized category, the better.
More info: www.tceb.or.th