At the recent MICE & Luxury Forum hosted by Sands China at Sands
Expo & Convention Centre, delegates learnt how meeting planners' new
demands will affect the roles of CVBs.
The session on June 8, 2023 was entitled Meetings & Events in a Post Pandemic World: Status Quo or A New Game?
It drew panel speakers Dan Rivlin, executive chair and chief vision
officer, The Kenes Group; Maureen Rogers, director, Global Meetings and
Events, Baker & McKenzie; and Sherrif Karamat, president and CEO,
PCMA and CEMA. Moderating the talk was Northstar Travel Group’s
executive VP and group publisher, David Blansfield.
The key points are summarised here:
Involving the community
The Kenes Group’s Dan Ravlin said that to draw events, one has to
look at broader terms. “Many of my clients are going to be interested in
how they can bring an international event to a destination. If we can
find that part of how we can help the local environment and not just the
climate part - the local society in one way or another - that would be a
positive factor in the coming years and even in the present in the
decision-making factor,” he said.
For medical meetings, PCMA and CEME’s Sherrif Karamat said that
certain aspects of a medical meeting need to be immersive. “Can we get
that meeting in a medical facility? This is going to absolutely make it,
but working with the community would make it even more attractive. So I
don’t think any single destination has to have everything. But
embracing the community will make it much more attractive.”
Baker & McKenzie’s Maureen Rogers said that her team would
welcome more guidance from the suppliers and CVBs by letting her know
what they have seen from other clients to learn best practices.
She added that the preferences for her company’s participants and
attorneys would include looking at markets that are ideal for their
event strategy. “We are looking for the right hotel and also the right
price.” Ease of travel where there is enough airlift and the ability to
get visas and passports are important.
Baker & McKenzie has a tool that will show travellers’ carbon
output. “We give that to our stakeholders and attorneys in terms of what
the options are so they can make the choice as to where they would like
to go. Oftentimes, it might lean more towards a more sustainable
airlift to get there,” she added. The personalisation of these events
and paying attention to wellness are now top priorities compared to
Transparency in communication
Also, hotels and suppliers must be transparent about peak periods as
this was crucial for delivery standards. “Let us know so we know when
there is more availability.” She wanted stronger and more effective
communication as the world is “changing so much and quickly.”
Ravlin reinforced Rogers’ comments with a new survey of their global
audience, stating that the number one factor for choosing a destination
was accessibility, followed by infrastructure, destination
attractiveness or appeal, and as a fourth point, human relationships -
where customers felt delivery standards were met. Fifth on the list was
price, showing that people were prepared to pay more if the other
factors were met.
CVBs as mediators and partners
Rivlin shared that the international segment has much more
uncertainty today than ever before. “We don’t know when people are going
to come - they register in the last minute whilst decision-making is
taken far ahead of that. So what we are looking for in a CVB is to be a
partner – to help us with conveying the message to every stakeholder –
for example, price is playing a major role because of the uncertainty
with inflation. So if we sign a contract two years ahead of time, we
already need to fix rate registration, but the costs are not fixed, and
with inflation of 8% or 10%, that could be a game changer.”
“Sometimes you come to a destination and not all hotels are playing
ball. And for some of them, they are looking for short term gains after
Covid. And we see that almost everywhere around the world. 90% are
playing as part of the team but 10% are not. So we need the CVBs to help
- this would be much more important to me than to show me how lovely
the city is.
Being flexible with fast-changing needs
Flexibility would be needed for international meetings that move
around the world, because by the time they come to top Asian cities,
“only about 10-20% of the delegates will return”, said Rivlin.
Therefore, for most delegates, these places are new to them, and with
newness, there are more changes to delegate behaviour. Added Rivlin: “So
I need flexibility so I can change things. So it can’t be the organiser
that suffers and is the buffer, and all the stakeholders are saying
‘that’s the contract and that’s what you have’.”
To drive the message home, Karamat said that CVBs which continue to
operate in an outdated model “will be extinct” if they do not change
their operating model. “Most DMOs are operating the way they operated 30
years ago as a promotional arm. You have an opportunity to re-define
yourself and be much more valuable in your community and play a leading
role if you would approach it differently.” Such CVBs should look at
which sector the local governments are aiming to grow and work with
them, he added.