LCCs keep Asian MICE sector flying high

WITH improved connectivity boosted by the rapid growth of LCCs, Asia continues to reign as a preferred corporate travel destination among the region’s DMCs and TMCs.

BCD Travel Singapore, head-corporate leisure, Desmond Lim, said: “(Asians) have limited days (for) travel, and they cannot go to destinations beyond a five- to seven-hour flight radius, so Asia will continue to be the incentive destination (of choice).”

While clients’ incentive budgets have stayed the same for IMR Group Malaysia, the company’s director, B P Tan said the increasing number of flights in the region had aided product creation.

He said: “For example, Malaysia Airlines recently increased its Kuala Lumpur-Bangkok frequency, giving us more airlift capacity and more competitive fares, which translates to better prices for (clients).”

Tan explained that reduced airfares would allow for better quality catering and activities for event delegates.

“With (stagnant) budgets, we have to be creative to deliver what clients need,” said Joe Kok, MP Travel & Tours Malaysia business development director. “Indonesia and Thailand have been our main destinations but we cannot keep sending clients to major destinations like Bali. We need to introduce new programmes, so the Kuala Lumpur-Semarang service (launched by AirAsia earlier this year) has given us an opportunity to create new itineraries.”

The Philippines and Cambodia are also seeing stronger outbound MICE traffic as a result of improved regional air access.

Said Linda Tan, operations manager of JTL Travel & Tours Philippines, which has seen a hike in the number of incentive groups in recent years: “Apart from the (developing) economy, the rise of LCCs has made it more affordable for companies to send (their top performing staff) on incentive tours.”

While Canaan2 Travel & Tours Corp Philippines general manager, Mirasol Pasia-Uy, observed more clients going to Guam, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea with budgets of up to US$1,300, she found that the majority are still travelling to neighbouring countries with a budget of US$500, made possible by cheaper flights on LCCs.

Similarly, Indochina, Singapore and Malaysia – all with good flight access – are most popular among incentive clients of Asia Explorer! Travel Cambodia, according to its managing director, Kim Chan Lekha.

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