ICCA Asia calls for 'collaboration at all costs'

Asia regional director, Noor Ahmad Hamid, details the way forward for Asia’s MICE industry, warning traditional barriers must come down.

Speaking at MBEW in Kuala Lumpur last month, Noor Ahmad Hamid urged MICE stakeholders to take proactive steps towards regional collaboration.
Speaking at MBEW in Kuala Lumpur last month, Noor Ahmad Hamid urged MICE stakeholders to take proactive steps towards regional collaboration.

As the global meetings and events industry continues to grapple with the effects of Covid-19, International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) regional director in Asia, Noor Ahmad Hamid, believes the region is coping rather well.

As the first region to be hit by Covid‐19, Hamid said the industry in APAC was also the first to get used to living with the new normal. 

"MICE players in Asia have the opportunity to transform their business and speed up the tech revolution. As we witness so many virtual and hybrid events happening, this will push companies to up-skill into new areas of expertise," he said.

Of course the industry has not escaped unscathed, and many companies continue to fight for survival. "SMEs are badly affected and many have closed down. Even larger companies have implemented furlough, where staff are put on unpaid leave for a long period of time," he said.

Speaking at the recent Malaysia Business Events Week (MBEW) in Kuala Lumpur, Noor pointed out that Singapore is very capable in terms of augmented reality and virtual reality — and as online and hybrid meetings continue to gain traction, digital skills will need to be further developed. He also added that adapting to new ways of doing business goes hand‐in‐hand with unlearning the old methods, which, he remarked, is not as easy as it seems.

While governments across Asia have provided support funds to help domestic business stay afloat, Noor exhorted MICE professionals not to rely on government subsidies to ride out the storm, but to find innovative ways of doing business, including implementing new business strategies and models.

"The MICE sector is a human interaction where face‐to‐face and travel are a major component. Therefore, companies need to identify the areas that they need to focus on and how they can be part of the fast pace advancement in these new event formats.”

He added that the trust deficit caused by the pandemic is huge, and only until a destination is fully reopened with vaccine in place, can the trust issue be resolved.

"I believe at this juncture the MICE industry must collaborate and build a strong domestic demand. This domestic business is the one that is going to keep the industry afloat," he said. "We are in survival mode and therefore, collaboration — especially between government and the private sector —must be done at all costs.”

In a nudge to CVBs and event planners, he stressed that a proactive approach to work with neighbouring destinations (in anticipation of border re-openings) is needed, and this will likely be the immediate source of MICE business opportunities.