SINGAPORE – MCI Global Executive VP Corporate Division, Mr Oscar Cerezales, has worked for the company for more than 10 years across three different markets in three different continents.
He sees the meetings industry in Asia heading towards more blended experiences (from online, offline to online). There will be more fragmentation, and at some point, more events, but they will be smaller. There will also be more ways to spend the marketing budget (wider omnichannel). In addition, a greater number of platforms will be activated by associations, governments, corporates and networks.
Some of the lessons garnered over the last few months would be to make revenue diversification the key to doing business. Secondly, he said that JVs and partnerships will unlock growth while potentially decreasing risks.
“Just a few (organisations) innovate with solutions. And only a handful are able to innovate – holistically - with their business model,” he said. This would include a combination of target customers and markets, value proposition, financial structures, ecosystem of resources and partners, channels to targets. He suggested business models needed to be managed with a combination of science using methodologies, insights, and art (intuition and gut feeling).
Strategy would involve making a smarter allocation of one’s resources as compared with the competition. “MICE is a highly tactical sector. Basically, because most of the stakeholders are positioned (service delivering) in execution. Nothing wrong with that, but after a couple of decades where the sector has become more and more effective, now it’s time to focus on strategy. While we are effective now, the industry, needs to become efficient - using smarter or even less resources.”
Growing the pie
“Talents, cash, strategy and execution are the foundation of scalability Almost all organisations want or need to scale to grow. If you want to grow your business, you need replicability in all your process. Also, you need the right strategy. A great organisation works around their talents and execution. Finally, you need cash,” he said.
The MICE industry, has for years, been segregating its treatment of association, corporate, exhibition and government events. Said Mr Cerezales: “In reality, they all have similar needs - build a community around their users, members, buyers, sellers, stakeholders etc. You will need to grow – engage, replicate, track, activate and monetise these communities. If you want to go in that direction, communities need to be managed with a platform mindset. And, obviously, a platform mindset requires design (process applied to a platform model) and execution via technology.”
New business models
One of its new business models includes transitioning its association clients to a cloud-based digital platform. With an investment of less than US$10 per member, associations will get a comprehensive and localised system in different Asian languages, with local payment methods and taxes. The system comes with a member app.
Client, Mr Ronnie Tan, president of the Singapore Institute of Landscape Architecture (SILA), said his journey with MCI Singapore’s cloud-based digital platform was “a step into the unknown”, but his team was willing to explore another way of going about their administrative processes that would lead to more efficiency, time and money savings in the long run.
The association had been handling its administration manually. Initially, there were IT concerns such data back-ups, privacy data protection, and ownership of data. Cost was another concern and whether the organisation would be tethered to the system and its provider, and the implications should the service partnership end.
“It was an opportunity to tap into digital technology to see how things can be done better,” Mr Tan said.
The feedback was positive -there was better efficiency, data analytics, and most importantly, “a single source of data depository instead of having multiple files (soft or hard copies) sitting on different people's desktops made a huge difference”, he added.
As SILA is an NGO without a physical office, storage has always been a challenge, so with this new cloud-based solution, storage of paperwork is almost non-existent now. He added: “I am also experiencing efficiency, almost real-time tracking of processes like payments and event registrations. This at a slightly reduced cost versus other systems available on the market. Moreover, I am able to use a single platform/software to manage and analyse membership, events, payments, and website all in one place.”