The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) is moving fast to implement five new strategies to revive and stimulate Thailand’s MICE industry in 2009. As part of its highly-integrated marketing and PR strategy, and a substantial injection of government funds to support special promotional packages, TCEB has brought together the public and private sectors to work together to address the challenges facing the MICE sector. This initiative aims to build confidence in Thailand as a MICE destination in Asia, and TCEB is confident that this approach will result in MICE revenues of over Baht 40 billion in 2009.
Mrs. Supawan Teerarat, exhibitions director and acting president of TCEB, disclosed: “Thailand’s MICE industry has been impacted by the political situation during the Songkran festival. In all, there were seven cancellations, including the Bayer-Schering sales conference, IFRA Publish Asia 2009, and GLASSTECH ASIA 2009. The cancellations meant Thailand lost over 11,580 visitors, which translates into Baht 950 million in lost revenues.
“This situation clearly shows that confidence and security are the most important factors impacting on the MICE industry. Accordingly, TCEB has developed 5 strategies to quickly revive and promote Thailand’s MICE industry in 2009. The strategies comprise an ambitious and integrated marketing plan, with a QUICK WIN promotion for the inbound market. In addition, TCEB’s 360° communication strategy will help to stimulate the domestic conference market, including comprehensive crisis management measures.”
The first strategy – an ambitious and integrated marketing strategy – is based upon three main components:
(1) First, to build confidence and motivation among local and international MICE operators (known as “Sentimental Marketing”) by disseminating relevant, up-to-the-moment, MICE industry information through TCEB’s own channels and the national media, and also by joining key global MICE industry events around the world.
(2) The second element – known as “Experiential marketing” – provides opportunities for representatives of target groups to have a first-hand experience of Thailand. This is accomplished by bringing organizations, organizers, and media representatives from overseas to Thailand to participate in familiarization trips to visit key venues and locations relevant to their event.
(3) The third element is known as the “Government and Private Sector Collaboration Trade Show and Road Show.” The goal is to demonstrate TCEB’s unified approach and close working relationship between the public and private sectors, and the strength of the government’s backing for the MICE sector. Three trade shows and 10 road shows are planned by December 2009 to promote Thailand’s MICE sector.
TCEB’s second strategy is to stimulate the inbound market through the QUICK WIN promotional campaign. For the meetings and incentives market, they have extended TCEB’s existing “Meetings Plus” campaign, which consists of two high-value packages. The availability of the “Free Third Night” package for delegates at events longer than 3 days will now be extended from March to September 2009. Moreover, the “Hospitality Package,” which provides subsidies for receptions and banquets, will also be extended from the end of June to December 2009.
Turning to conventions, TCEB has developed a special campaign called “Bring More, Enjoy More” by which agents and associations that bring a group of 20 delegates or more to attend conventions in Thailand to receive special privileges. These privileges include marketing support of Baht 50,000 to 120,000, and hospitality packages of up to Baht 30,000 to 60,000. These packages will be available all through 2009 until September 2010.
Targeting Exhibitions, TCEB has developed and launched its “Beyond Exhibition” campaign, offering attractive incentives to both exhibitors and visitors. The “Triple-E” package provides accommodation subsidy for a free fourth night, and trade associations are eligible for the “100-A-Head” package, through which exhibitors are able to receive US$100 per person in marketing support if they are able to attract at least a group of 15 people. The “100-A-Head” package is offered exclusively for ASEAN countries China and India.
The third strategy – the 360° communication strategy – is an integrated approach using all key media channels. This is supported by a referral strategy: online testimonials by respected opinion leaders are especially important in building confidence among target groups, since research shows that MICE visitors are increasingly reliant on the Internet as a primary source of information.
The fourth strategy – stimulating the domestic MICE market – focuses on promoting and developing four key provinces as MICE destinations. TCEB has launched the “Meet in Thailand Prosperous Thailand” program to encourage both public and private sectors to hold their meetings and seminars in Thailand. Activities under this campaign include eight familiarization trips in 2009, promotional packages, and buyer-seller matchmaking events. Finally, a cooperative plan has been launched to develop the major cities of Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, and Chiang Mai under the campaign “Thailand MICE City.”
The fifth strategy – a comprehensive crisis management strategy – is a coordinated plan, involving all concerned agencies. This includes establishment of the TCEB Call Center and contact centers located at airports. Moreover, TCEB is working to elevate safety and security standards in the MICE industry to comply with Industrial Standard 22300 – MICE Security Management System, or MSMS. This will extend the readiness of Thailand’s MICE operators to effectively manage any security situation and further build Thailand’s image as a top global MICE destination fully compliant with global security standards.
Concluding, Mrs. Supawan Teerarat announced that TCEB has allocated a budget of more than Baht 200 million to implement these five new strategies in order to revive and stimulate Thailand’s MICE industry during 2009. Overall TCEB expects a 20-30 percent drop in MICE travelers in 2009, or a total of 500,000 MICE travelers representing earning revenues of 41 billion baht. Nevertheless, Mrs. Supawan expressed confidence in a recovery within the sector during the second and third quarters of next year.