Asia Business Meet (ABM) 2018 got off to a productive day of extensive 1-2-1 sessions for buyers at Sands Expo and Convention Centre on July 25. Among the 54 qualified meetings and incentives buyers this year, 12 of them come from Europe. Like their counterparts from North America, European buyers, too, are attracted to Asia's burgeoning MICE industry, with major growth opportunities in major cities.
A European MICE consultant, for one, cited Asia's connectivity as one of the chief appeals, "There are many carriers that fly to Asian cities. Many airlines also have good deals and competitive prices, specifically for the Europe-Asia routes, not just for Economy Class, but for Business and First Class as well."
"It's value for money," said a buyer from a European agency. "It's a part of the world where we can have very good service, very good hotels and very good venues. The prices are affordable." Cities that he is particularly interested in includes Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, China, India and Sri Lanka.
As for the programmes and offerings from suppliers, the European buyers were pointed to say the least. A Germany-based event organiser, for example, deals mainly with real estate, finance and consultancy firms, and the clients' requirements are very specific, "We usually do big conferences for them, [coupled] with interesting incentives, but some clients ask for special set up. For example, they need high ceilings and lots of spaces for exhibitions and meetings." Breakout venues, too, are especially crucial for her. "Not everyone has space for that." For the aforementioned MICE consultant, it comes down to the basics. "It's the small things, for me. I am now staying at a hotel with 2,000 rooms, and everything is so clean, it is unbelievable. The housekeeping is just world class. You can have programmes to manage VIPs or arrange special airport transfers, but they need to get the basics right."
The buyer from a European agency, on the other hand, preferred to keep his options open. "Every conference is the same all around the world. I am more interested in the leisure incentives, something unexpected that I never thought of." For example, at a recent MICE event in Sri Lanka, he was impressed by how guests were invited to learn how to make curry from the supplier. "I am searching for that diamond," he added with a smile.