THE centre of gravity for Chinese firms has shifted to employees, from management before, an evolution that is beneficial for meetings and incentives, according to industry members interviewed.
With the business environment becoming increasingly competitive in China, private sector firms are fighting hard to stay cutting edge and to keep their staff loyal and motivated. As a result, they are holding more meetings, incentives and teambuilding retreats in a bid to strategise, seek ideas and innovations from staff, and keep the good ones from leaving.
Benson Tang, regional director-Asia, Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE), noted that MICE expenditure in turn is rising due to the changing business environment.
An increased MICE spend is what’s also driving more companies to include MICE expenditure management as part of their corporate travel management policy, he added.
“In the past, corporate travel is transient – travel to look for new business, hold one-on-one business discussions with partners, for training purposes, etc. Now, more corporates are bringing MICE into the travel programme,” said Tang.
“(Today) there are events managers who not only do RFPs for meetings and incentives but look after the travel experience.
“China firms have become traveller-centric – before it was always the management’s point of view. This translates to a simpler policy today and one that engages the person’s well-being and travel experience. In more advance cases, there is even an ‘open’ travel management style,” he added.
Tang attributes the change to a maturing human resources (HR) discipline in China and HR’s recognition that a more traveller-centric policy could be a strong incentive to gain staff’s support and loyalty.
Boon Kwee Lim, president of Dusit Fudu Hotels & Resorts also noted that corporates in China are meeting through the weekend, not just the usual Monday to Thursday.
“Although (this arrangement) is pricier, the weekend (is) meant to reward staff and build the team. Companies are recognising that their staff are working hard and need time to relax; that leisure, a balanced lifestyle and well-being of staff are important,” he said.
Leo Tang, CEO of Eventown, said the MICE industry indeed had been hit by the government’s austerity drive and by tougher pharmaceutical laws, however, while government or state-owned enterprises spending on MICE is down, the MICE expenditure from private sector companies is not.
“In sectors such as gaming and mobile technology, there is a rise in meetings as their business is doing well,” he said.
However, he acknowledged that companies still try to control the spend nevertheless, which is why Eventown’s B2B portal with booking engine that features 30,000 meeting venues in China and enables users to compare prices saw revenue shoot up 77 times in 2013 over 2012, he claimed. Majority of bookers were Chinese clients.
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