When it comes to MICE offerings, venues and infrastructure, Malaysia is ready to raise the business-events bar. That was one of the key takeaways of Malaysia Business Events Week, held on Aug 28 at Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur.
Attracting approximately 220 members of the MICE industry, the day of education, networking and insight, organised by the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), gave attendees an opportunity to learn how to enhance their efforts in the MICE industry and to learn how Malaysia, as a destination, could help them meet these goals.
"The business events industry is growing constantly" said Datuk Zulkefli Haji Sharif, CEO of MyCEB, as he delivered the welcome remarks, declaring that, "We are glad to be part of this challenging journey and to be able to produce remarkable outcomes often surpassing the targeted KPI."
It was a sentiment captured by the event's theme - "Progressive Momentum" - which Mr Zulkefli said was selected to capture the growth needed to ensure "each player gives their best to business events and to the country."
Highlights of MBEW
MBEW, first launched in 2014, has been "a great platform to converge, communicate and debate issues that impact the future growth of the business industry and bring together industry experts to power forward to the next level."
Since then, the event has grown and collectively welcomed more than 1,000 participants over that time.
It was not only the fifth anniversary of MBEW, but the 10th anniversary of MyCEB. Mr Zulkefli explained that since its inception, his organisation had successfully secured more than 1,100 international events, generating some RM8.5 trillion in economic impact for the country. While he acknowledged that "Last year was a year of change for Malaysia," he pointed to the fact that the organisation, along with its industry partners, had secured 152 business events, highlighting events such as the Asia Oil and Gas Conference and 62nd ISI World Statistic Congress 2019, held in Kuala Lumpur just last week.
Mr Zulkefli summed up how things looked from his position, "For the future of business events in Malaysia, it is certainly looking bright."
YB Tuan Muhammad Bakhtiar bin Wan Chik, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, echoed these sentiments as he delivered the opening speech.
"One of the reasons for these outstanding numbers is due to the exposure, motivation, strong commitment and dedication by all the industry players and events like MBEW to constantly work harder to increase tourist arrivals and improve our offerings," said Mr Bakhtiar. "We cannot deny that business events have a strong foothold in our agenda."
He pointed to how business events were drivers of economic contributor and catalyst for job creation and urged that members of the industry must be "supportive of each other" to help "Malaysia become the destination of choice for both business and leisure."
He cited the Visit Malaysia 2020 plan, which will focus on pushing the best tourism products, pulling in international travellers while also appealing to domestic travelers.
"The year 2020 will be one of celebration and festivities," he said.
The day of MCEB certainly was one of celebration, as well. Not only due to these upbeat projections and plans, but thanks to the inspiring educational events taking place throughout the day.
Jonathan Low, a speaker and author with the Global Success Learning Academy, amidst his talk on "The Power of the 'R' Factors," actually brought up a few dozen attendees who were celebrating birthdays in the month of August - a gesture of the value of celebration in building relationships (in addition to the "Four C's" of Competence, Commitment, Consistency and Caring.
How Malaysia rises up to meet MICE demands
Mr Low discussed the importance of responsiveness to the market, citing Malaysia's innovations in meeting MICE demands.
"How can we take more action to create the kind of outcome that we want?" he challenged the audience.
Rashvin Pal Singh, co-founder of the Biji-Biji Initiative, a Malaysian-based environmental education company, shared best practices in sustainability with the audience. For example: rather than a buffet, a food-to-order counter is far more likely to reduce food waste.
Marcel Ewals, director of association relations and marketing for MCI Asia Pacific, discussed "Winning More Association Congresses," outlining everything from bid procedures and how they've changed to detailed issues of financing to the importance of keeping an association's values front and center.
"You don't host a meeting in order to make money, you host a meeting to develop your legacy," he said.
It was a theme echoed by a panel of event organizers on "Creating Legacies and Impact in Business Events," each of whom had held a high-profile gathering in Malaysia in recent years, and a conversation between Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture Malaysia Secretary General Datuk Isham Ishak and Business Events Council Malaysia Chairman Alan Pryor discussed how closer collaboration between the public and private sectors would not only generate more MICE business, but elevate Malaysia as a destination more broadly.
Altogether, the day of wide-ranging education was perhaps best summed up by Mr Bakhtiar, "Thanks for the great effort, and keep the momentum going."