Malaysians halt outbound MICE for elections

MALAYSIAN corporates are reacting to news of a possible general election between March and May with a freeze on outbound meetings and incentives, said Malaysian MICE buyers at AIME 2013.

HTT Travel Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, head of events, operations & accounts services, Yeong Hock Meng, said: “Many Malaysians want to cast their votes at this coming general election, and are therefore postponing any overseas trips between now and May because some believe that the elections may only be held then.

“That has badly impacted the company, as we have no corporate outbound business from Malaysia throughout the first half of 2013.”

Panorama Holidays Malaysia, sales manager for MICE ­­– outbound tours, Yong Y H, echoed the same complain, saying clients had postponed travel to as late as the third quarter.

“We will just have to sell much harder to catch up after the general elections and during the remaining months of the year,” said Yong.

However, MICE Hubs Travel and Tours managing director, Konrad Ong, observed a different reaction from clients, reporting a surge in last-minute meetings and incentives with lead times as short as two weeks as they “rush out their trips”.

He added that many of these clients had delayed trips during the end of 2012 due to talk about a possible general election at the end of the year.

“But that didn’t happen and when news broke that the government would call for an election in March or the following months, these clients knew they had to execute their meetings and incentives as soon as possible or risk further postponements,” explained Ong.

According to him, the company received in January four bookings with a lead time of two weeks, bound for nearby destinations of Singapore, Penang and Langkawi.

That said, Ong noted that some clients were still going ahead with outbound meetings and incentives from now till June 2013.

“We had 15 events confirmed in January, which is quite rare for the company and perhaps even for the industry, as the start of the year is usually slow for MICE,” he said.

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