What new initiatives is TCEB involved in?
YOSWEE: TCEB is Thailand’s Conventions & Exhibitions Bureau. Our primary objective is to bring in or improve the economic impact MICE has on the country through the promotion of meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions – or in short the MICE industry. In order to achieve that goal we have a 3-part strategy; first is to win more international bidding into the country; second is to promote Thailand as the destination of choice for MICE within Asia; and third is to develop local capabilities in order to bring in and organize world class level events. My department, the MICE Capabilities Department, has their own campaign for each individual target group. They have identified the multipliers that are at the forefront, the organizers that really are the big players in the industry, and the ones who really bring in a lot of international events into the country. With that, we support them with content, with knowledge, and with business networking.
Which KPIs do you use to measure performance?
YOSWEE: We have a series of KPIs. We have KPIs for the organization, we have KPIs for the different departments, and we have personal KPIs to make sure that all of us are heading in the same direction and ensuring that Thailand is on the map for the MICE sector.
Geographically, what parts of the world are most interesting in terms of a target market for MICE events in Thailand?
YOSWEE: The MICE sector really depends on the industry sectors that we are serving. Each industry sector has its own target market. For some industries, the target is Europe, for some it’s the United States, and for others it’s Asia. However, right now the rise of Asia is more in focus. We are keeping our old territory from European countries and have improved the numbers of business travelers from Asia.
What role does the MICE sector play in Thailand’s overall tourism mix?
YOSWEE: MICE, or business travel, contributes around 10% of Thailand’s overall tourism revenue. This accounts for about 0.57% of Thailand’s total GDP, which is quite a significant number. This number has been increasing for the past 5 years and I hope that it will continue to increase in the future.
What kind of revenue growth has Thailand’s MICE industry experienced in recent years? What are you anticipating in the future?
YOSWEE: The MICE sector has generated a growth rate of around 10% to 15%. In terms of revenue, it generates around THB 88bn ($3.1bn). Out of the 4 sectors in MICE, conventions contributed 33 percent, followed by corporate meetings and incentive travels, which contributed 25 and 24 percent, respectively. International exhibitions and trade shows accounted for 18 percent of total MICE revenues for 2012. I think it is only fair to say that even though exhibitions seem to generate quite a small percentage, according to the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry or UFI, Thailand ranks the number 3 in the world as a revenue generator in Asia and number 1 in Southeast Asia.
From a value perspective, how does each segment of MICE contribute per capita?
YOSWEE: Corporate Meetings are the highest revenue generator, accounting for around THB 20,134 ($704) per person per day. Following that is Exhibitions, with THB 19,966 ($698) and Conventions, with THB 14,800 ($517) and finally Incentives comes last with THB 14,745 ($515) as this segment caters to incentives related to tourism.
Do you have different strategies for addressing each of the 4 segments that make up the MICE sector?
YOSWEE: Because each category is different and special by itself, we would do them a disservice if we only had one kind of supporting scheme. There are a lot of different packages for each category and we have a lot of sub category support. We can also individualize and personalize the packages with both in kind and financial support. It really depends on the timing and the number of business travelers and the spending per head, the more the spending, the more the level of support of course.
MICE, or business travel, contributes around 10% of Thailand’s overall tourism revenue. This accounts for about 0.57% of Thailand’s total GDP, which is quite a significant number.
How do you plan to increase value and spending per business traveler?
YOSWEE: The MICE sector works together with the tourism sector and one of the key competitive advantages Thailand has is the variety of destinations that we have. We have several different MICE cities and we ensure that the standards are there across each of these different places. Each of the events that run in each of the different MICE cities will all be at world class standards and be enabled to become very successful based on the objectives set forth. The level of standards that we are talking about, and the players in the industry, play an important role in ensuring the content and standards are in place. The government just released many policies to attract both repeat business travelers and tourists as a whole. The government also aims to improve the current package and focus on marketing the package to the world. The whole idea is that we do not focus solely on one sector to increase spend or increase days. We take a multifaceted approach to increase the number of tourists, increase the number of business travelers, and improve the types of packages we can offer.
We are soliciting collaboration with partners in terms of venue and in terms of suppliers for tourists and business travelers to make sure that the experience is there. In terms of experiences, we categorize experiences through a series of campaigns. We have an adventure campaign, a wedding campaign, weddings are very popular here, especially from India, and we also have a senior campaign because aging tourism is progressing aggressively. We analyze our target groups and we come up with a series of individualized packages to make sure that we cater to each of their individual needs and to make sure that we deliver the highest experience or the best experience possible.
How does each of Thailand’s MICE cities differ?
YOSWEE: Business wise, people have the same objectives and these relate to standards and the quality of service. I believe there shouldn't be any differentiation between MICE cities; they have to be able to achieve the same standards and the same level of service wherever they are. The thing that differentiates MICE cities is culture and the experience. I believe that each of the MICE cities that Thailand has are different and unique. For example, Chiang Mai will offer you a totally different experience than what you will find in some of our southern destinations and this is part of the charm that we believe makes Thailand such a strong and diversified MICE destination.
In what ways are you working to ensure Thailand has an adequate amount of human capital to sustain MICE industry growth?
YOSWEE: What we are focusing on right now is creating future MICE leaders and this is where the idea for the MICE academy came from. We have worked to develop an introduction to MICE and right now 30% of the total universities in Thailand, something like 48 in total, have already adopted this subject into their course offerings. With that, we hope that in the future, there will be a supply of professionals who really understand what MICE is. Right now, we have worked with the local community and the international community in terms of education institutions. We have an academic exchange program. At this first phase, we are working with ASEAN countries to serve the upcoming AEC in 2015. The goal is that students will have the opportunity to go overseas and experience what the MICE sector is about and the true meaning of global competition and global standards.