The Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions (MICE) industry is considered one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors. MICE generates foreign exchange, increases trade and investments, provides employment, boosts local economies, and promotes destinations. The major key to its success is the strong collaboration with the travel, hospitality, and leisure sectors that provide products and services for the industry. Although the industry have been severely interrupted due to COVID-19, worldwide surveys of companies and travel planners indicate the majority of business travelers are ready to return to a more client-facing meetings and conferences. What changes in the MICE sector can we anticipate in a post pandemic world?
Rebound of Physical Events
Demand for hybrid and virtual events skyrocketed due to COVID-19, leaving a deciding mark on the MICE industry. It’s easy to see why the new online format is so popular. First of all, there’s no need to travel, which saves companies a lot of money in hotel costs and airfare. Also, we have all become accustomed to living and working in the virtual world.
Having said this, the value of meeting and networking in-person cannot be replaced by virtual event platforms. The most important enablers for the return of business travels would include widespread vaccine distribution and reduced case numbers. The ease of travel restrictions globally will also accelerate the demand for physical events.
In a nutshell, changes in the MICE sector of the future will likely be hybrid model. If organizations are truly thinking of growing their audience and increasing their relevance, they will have to create content, communities, and experiences that engage their audience in the medium they are most comfortable. And living in a post pandemic world, virtual events will continue, albeit not replacing physical events.
Acceleration of Contactless
Since physical events are making a comeback, it makes sense to promote contactless experiences. This includes things like integrated check-in and badging which eliminates the need to have your visitors crowding in close proximity and all of the hassles involved with in-person check-in. By connecting with badge printers and registration platforms, attendees can check themselves in before leaving home. Simply have self-scan registration stations at the entrance and you’re all set! Quick, easy, and contactless.
Other event technology that’s gaining popularity includes branded and all-in-1 app. Smartphone apps serves many functions and purposes, from contacts management to schedule planning to ticket purchase. Imagine simply scanning a QR code to retrieve all contact information of the person you meet, without having to carry or exchange a business card. Fortunately, with many smart apps in the market, contactless can be seamless even if attending a physical event.
Whilst 80 per cent of attendance was virtual in the past years, the ratios are shifting progressively. It is anticipated that one of the changes in the MICE sector is for warm-body attendees to increase as travel restriction eases. Globally, a conscious effort is being initiated by government to keep borders open for travelers (especially getting back to business). However, the pandemic has been around long enough for the MICE industry to take on a stoic approach. There will always be the fear of the unknown and uncertainty. The goal is to continue to be pragmatic, nimble and innovate in the face of adversity.
Despite the challenges, opportunities are still aplenty for the MICE sector in the new reality. More than ever, the sector cannot be complacent about adopting technology that will harness a better attendees experience. It will no longer be business as usual, but rather business with enhanced approach.