Budgets, venue choices still a bugbear for MICE planners

LEADING event and incentive travel programme specialist Maritz Travel, headquartered near St Louis, Missouri, says negotiating for lower hotel rates and finding availability of meeting spaces are the current biggest challenges facing the MICE industry in the US.

David Peckinpaugh, president of Maritz Travel, said increasing demand versus stagnant supply was putting pressure on availability and price. However, he forecast the industry would continue to grow at a healthy rate of between five and 10 per cent in the next two years.

During his keynote address last week at the Singapore: A Curated Discovery seminar, Peckinpaugh told 20 invited buyers from the US and more than 50 local industry members that increased demand for all-inclusive incentives was also trending.

“Now, it is also all about mobile and wearable beacon technology, that when used in name badges to track data on delegates, will be the wave of the future,” he said.

Latest figures show Maritz booked 4.2 million rooms night, planned and executed 8,600 meetings, events and incentive travel programmes and negotiated total spend of US$1.16 billion on behalf of its clients.

“Budgets are driving key decisions. It is still very difficult to measure the impact of an event’s ROI and the impact of experience. Unless clients can go back to the CFO and show these measurements, budgets will be flat. So we must do more in terms of measurement,” he pointed out.

He added: “Despite the challenges, Asia’s accommodating culture often makes it easier to plan an event than in Europe. This is a high demand area and speaks well for the organisations here.”

As well, Peckinpaugh reiterated a number of times the perceived safety of the destination was a top priority. Other important factors for choosing a destination include fresh ideas, a wow experience, strong airlift, appropriate facilities and attractive pricing.

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