One of the greatest challenges our industry faces is getting the recognition it deserves in two key areas, namely: As a major driver of travel and tourism revenues; As a financial performance driver for business.
In both these areas I feel there is not enough effort being made to quantify the positive impact the Incentive Travel, Conference, Meetings & Business Events has on two important areas of commerce in Asia-Pacific.
For its role as a major driver of travel and tourism revenues, I think that more can be done to track the purpose of why people enter countries, such as through an Immigration Arrival Card which can effectively track purpose of visit, but few bother to do this.
For example you would expect Singapore and Hong Kong to ask this simple question on their Immigration Arrival Card, but they don’t. Conversely, both Australia and China do ask the traveller to state the purpose of visit. In China’s case, conference and business fall under a single box to tick, whereas in Australia, convention and conference, and business are separated.
I would urge all countries in Asia-Pacific who are serious about business related tourism to collect this data, as it helps them when it comes to planning their tourism departments’ focus. It will certainly help the Incentive, Conference & Event industry gain the recognition it justly deserves.
For its role as a financial performance driver for business, we are seeing an annual shift of billions of marketing dollars away from advertising in favour of Incentive, Conference & Event projects.
Industry players will know that Incentive, Conference & Event spend is far more effective in driving behavioural change and improving the bottom line than advertising today. But we fall short in communicating this to the corporate decision makers. Chief marketing officers need to be constantly reminded that their move in making a bigger investment in Incentive, Conference & Event projects, rather than advertising, is well justified.
Nigel Gaunt is the president of the Incentive, Conference & Event Society (ICESAP).