A world-renowned business hub, Thailand is fast becoming the ultimate destination for MICE travelers, attracting more than one million of them in 2013.
by Katie Walsh.
With fierce competition from well-established business centers including Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia, Thailand now ranks so high in professional communities that it is keeping pace with its neighbors by attracting more than one million MICE (Meeting, Incentive, Convention, and Exhibition) visitors last year.
According to the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) — which introduced in 2012 the global marketing campaign, Thailand Connect, with the intention of drawing more MICE travelers to the kingdom—, MICE visitors generated THB 88,485 million revenue in 2013 from 1,013,502 people (up from 895,224 in 2012), who attended 7,866 business events in the country.
Thailand has more than admirably met its responsibility to cater to the special requirements of MICE visitors, from its efficient banking services through to its reliable high-speed internet connections. Known as “The Land of Smiles,” Thailand is commended for its high-quality customer service, matched in excellence only by the high-end facilities and amenities available. Conducting teleconferences is fast and efficient, while telecommunications operate via reliable satellite technology that ensures mobile phone networks are affordable and readily available. The country also boasts a noteworthy selection of serviced offices and business centers.
In Bangkok, business events are mostly held in the Queen Sirikit Center, Impact Arena, and BITEC, where first-rate business facilities are available. Conferences and conventions are also organized in many of the world-class hotels and, according to the TCEB, MICE visitors traveled fairly equally to the kingdom in 2013 for the following four purposes:
- Meetings: 26 percent
- Incentives: 24 percent
- Conventions: 31 percent
- Exhibitions: 19 percent
The reliable transportation options ensure travel is easy, and the national train and first class bus services are ideal for travelers seeking a convenient way to get around, while the domestic and international airports are perfect for those wanting fast connections.
Popular regions to visit for business purposes include the capital Bangkok that is described by the TCEB as an “evolving metropolis”, the southern island of Phuket that they consider to be a “luxurious incentive island”, the northern city of Chiang Mai which is known as a “Lanna MICE destination”, and other areas including the “festive seaside” city of Pattaya and Khon Kaen, which is the “gateway to Indo-China and GMS”.
The kingdom is considered to be a special place steeped in history, where the modern world has uniquely blended with traditional ancestry, which is appealing to MICE visitors. In neighboring countries, a fast-paced, progressive focus has taken over, pushing traditions and history onto the backburner. In their place, a glitzier, contemporary world now exists where only modern hotels are welcome, and local customs are pushed aside in favor of everything shiny and new. Thailand has successfully resisted the urge to spoil itself with modernization, by ensuring old meets new in a perfect harmony. This offers MICE travelers the ability to enjoy the perks of cutting-edge designs, and new technology offered alongside Thailand’s natural beauty and rich heritage.
Affordable travel gadgets are also available in many of Thailand’s sprawling shopping malls such as Bangkok’s MBK Center, including power accessories that provide additional charge to smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Universal plug adaptors, bluetooth keyboards, power strips, and a gadget organizer system to keep your gizmos safe while traveling are also handy.
In 2014, the TCEB has taken steps to ensure the amount of MICE visitors and annual revenue generated from the sector year on year continues to rise by creating more in-depth MICE curriculum and enrichment programs. The idea is to develop an improved international standard in MICE curriculums to help to continue to push the figures up.
For MICE travelers organizing a meeting in Thailand, here is a handy checklist to ensure everything runs smoothly:
- Create a list of participants
- Set out a structure in terms of what happens and when
- Book a convenient location
- Select a suitable date and time
- Send out an agenda to all participants
- Assign responsibilities to individuals
- Send confirmation of date, time and location three days prior to the meeting
Thailand is home to an intriguing initiative Dialogue in the Dark – www.dialogue-in-the-dark.com, that takes place in Bangkok, and which describes itself as a “brand of Dialogue Social Enterprise”. It supports organizations around the world—via exhibitions known as Dialogue in the Dark. Attendees partake in business workshops in complete darkness, forcing them to use an intense emotional intelligence, and collaborate together to complete training. The unusual concept of working in darkness provides an alternative perspective for participants, improving their business focus and building team relationships.