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.