The need for the exotic and novel led US buyers to Asia Business Meet 2018 for a day of 1-2-1 business matching with desired suppliers, held July 25 at Sands Expo and Convention Centre. Tourism and business events are all about experiences, and experiences are the dominant force driving human interest and behaviour, according to the DestinationNEXT 2017 Futures Study.
The desired result from these experiences? It's about cultural exchanges, connecting with nature and historical places, and meaningful agendas such as sustainability and corporate social responsibility. All of which Asia presents in her rich glory of UNESCO Heritage Sites, historical and cultural attractions and even "wonders of the world".
With options aplenty in Asia, US planners bringing their groups to the region will increase from 29% in 2018 to 35% in 2019, according to M&C's 2018 Global Planner survey. The survey also indicated that 33% foresee an increase in the volume of international events from 2018 to 2019, with 60% expecting no change, and 7% expecting a decrease.
Diversity and security
For an association buyer, ABM has proven to be a timely platform as his association is starting to focus on China, Singapore and other ASEAN markets. "We organise a forum every year for about 150-200 delegates, and since we are looking to establish a brand presence in the region, we want to check out suppliers such as four-star hotels, DMCs, audiovisual providers, onsite registration companies and cultural experience operators."
A buyer from an operations management and analytics company was also zooming in on Asia as his company has a strong presence in India and the Philippines, and holding events in Asia is a natural choice that works well logistically for his delegates. He has events spread out throughout the year, with something almost every month. His groups entail 150-200 industry leaders and their spouses, which makes it about 250 to 300.
"We like to do resort or luxury properties with a minimum meeting space of 10,000 sq ft. We typically do crescent rounds for our general sessions. And activities are also very important. We tend to plan activities for the leaders and their families," he said.
The incentives offered by Singapore Tourism Board were a draw, as were the family-friendly resorts in Asia. "I have discovered different destinations here that my leaders would not have thought about. Take Sarawak, for example, the nature, the wildlife…it's just so different and unique."
Cultural uniqueness is high on the list for a buyer from a global events management company, who has clients in all industry sectors with groups ranging from 250 to 1,5000. She plans about 12-20 events per year and they can be conferences, meetings and galas. Singapore, Phuket and Thailand are on her shortlist of destinations. "We usually look for five-star hotels that can accommodate up to 600 pax in rounds. And we also typically host evening events in cultural venues, so that element of uniqueness is desired."
For clients such as financial institutions, foundations and NGOs, she shared that they like exclusive experiences and prefer hotels with room inventory that is not too big but with capacity for add-ons as opposed to large ones with heavy foot traffic from other guests or locals. A separate check-in entrance for delegates is also preferred.
Destinations preferred by her clients are determined - to a certain extent - by the question of whether there is a local community that they would like to invite to their events as well. These 'by invitation only' local delegates make up additional numbers for their events.
Security was also cited in the DestinationNEXT 2017 Futures study as a destination necessity, one of the reasons for a keen interest in Asia. "Asia is a good alternative to Europe right now with all the security and safety-related concerns. We are looking at Tokyo, Taipei, Bangkok and Vietnam as possible destinations," said a buyer from a meetings and incentives agency.
Here to meet with CVBs, DMCs and support companies, he works with clients in the food, real estate and automobile industries as well as aerospace aftermarket suppliers who have groups ranging from 25 to 900.