MICE Strengthens Guangzhou's Influence

The China Import and Export Fair has long been part of Guangzhou's economic image. CIEF has not only influenced exhibitors, but has also boosted the development of the MICE sector in Guangzhou.

MICE Strengthens Guangzhou's Influence

With the city's MICE economy developing more and more, CIEF, which is China's top exhibition as well as the most valuable exhibition in Guangzhou, has helped Guangzhou to be in the leading position in China's MICE sector.

MICE Facilities
Provisional statistics show that the direct income each year from exhibitions such as the CIEF, the Guangzhou Fair, and the Auto Show is approximately CNY1.3 billion. Guangzhou now has 11 professional exhibition venues with a total exhibition area of 490,000 square meters. Of these, the Guangzhou International Convention & Exhibition Center is currently Asia's largest venue. It is estimated that over 350 exhibitions and 1,100 trade fairs are held in Guangzhou each year. The direct income of Guangzhou's MICE sector accounts for 41% of that for all of the province of Guangdong. The Pazhou district now has a group of exhibition venues and after Phase III of the Guangzhou International Convention & Exhibition Center was put into use in the autumn of 2008, the total construction area of the Center reached 1,086,000 square meters, with 330,000 square meters of exhibition halls and capacity for 211,000 stands. The Center has now replaced the Hannover Exhibition Center in Germany as the world's largest exhibition venue.

Adventageous Location

Located in the heart of the Pearl River Delta, Guangzhou is the hub for South China's passenger traffic, logistics, information flow, and capital circulation, the largest regional center in South China, and the core of the Pearl River Delta-South MICE economy industrial zone. Neighboring Hong Kong, Macau, and Southeast Asia, Guangzhou is an important trade port of China, and its market can serve Guangdong, South China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. This creates a huge market for Guangzhou's MICE economy.

The new Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, Huangpu Port, the Nansha deep water port, and a traffic system consisted of rail transit networks and freeway networks make Guangzhou the largest traffic hub in southern China.

Industrial Advantages
The Pearl River Delta economic zone is already one of the world's largest production bases with watches, toys, building materials, household appliances, petrochemicals, medical products, textiles, food, electronic communications, information technology, and high-tech industries being among the most developed ones. These industrial advantages are helping Guangzhou develop a comprehensive portfolio of exhibition brands.

Local Professional Bodies
Professional congress organizers and destination management companies in Guangzhou are now becoming more and more professional with the continuing development of Guangzhou's MICE industry. PCOs and DMCs are companies that specialize in the organization, coordination, arrangement and running of international meetings and events, are considered as indicators of the level of MICE development level for a country or region. Experience in developed countries shows that PCOs and DMCs are a meeting organizer's first consideration when they are choose a location and plan a schedule. Without PCOs or DMCs, a place will be seldom chosen as a destination.

Li Guangzhen, the managing director and general manager of Event Sharp Guangzhou, told China Hospitality News that, as the provincial capital city of Guangdong, Guangzhou is the province's center for politics, economy, culture, and tourism. Rich resources for meetings, education, and leisure can meet the needs for a multitude of business travel services and the advantageous location is a prime factor in attracting clients. The new Baiyun Airport with many international airlines flying directly to Guangzhou has attracted many multinational corporations to open branches or offices in the city, and this reinforces the value of MICE in Guangzhou. In addition, Guangzhou and its neighboring areas have rich tourism resources and a good shopping environment, offering clients a wide range of activities outside business hours and the Guangzhou Baiyun International Convention Center, and the booming top-end hotels make Guangzhou extreamly capable of receiving MICE teams.

How to choose a hotel that meets the requirements of the client? Li says that most clients would choose hotels from famous brands because of the size of their MICE team and other requirements, for example, the China Hotel; Marriott Hotel, Guangzhou; Garden Hotel Guangzhou; White Swan Hotel; Asia International Hotel; Shangri-La Hotel, Guangzhou; Grand Hyatt Guangzhou, and The Westin Guangzhou. The room rates of Guangzhou's star-rated hotels are much cheaper than those of Beijing and Shanghai and in recent years Marriott, Starwood, InterContinental, and other international brands have all opened hotels Guangzhou. These hotels offer top-end services and are targetted at high-end business guests.

Guangzhou's hotel sector is developing rapidly. By 2010, the total number of Guangzhou's star-rated hotels will have increased to over 300, of which half will be four-star and five-star properties. The entry of international hotel brands is a big opportunity for the local hotel industry, and will have an impact on some old five-star hotels. Currently many old five-star hotels have begun to upgrade their facilities. They have enlarged rooms to make them double or triple the original size; and they are improving the entire service quality to make guests feel at home.

Li Guangzhen expresses his confidence in the future of Guangzhou's MICE sector. With the launch of CEPA and the Pan-Pearl-River-Delta alliance, the preparation for the Asian Games, and the completion of the Pearl River Delta highway network, Guangzhou's tourism industry is prospering. This will greatly promote the development of MICE in Guangzhou. As one of top ten business travel destinations in mainland China, Guagnzhou's influence as a gateway city is growing. Development of the MICE market will bring new opportunities to the traditional travel sector.

Experiencing Real Business Travel
Liu Lihan works in the administration department of the Shenzhen Rohde & Schwarz Trading Company's Guangzhou Branch. She is in charge of the administrative affairs of the Guangzhou Branch including the planning and arrangements of meetings and other activities. She told CHN that, in the main, the company holds two types of meeting, client meetings and training meetings. Participants for both types of meeting, vary from 30 to 100 or so people, and are mainly the company's clients coming from Guangzhou's neighborhood. Size and setup of meeting venues, projection equipment, audio equipment, and dining facilities are the major factors when she is choosing a hotel. In addition she also considers the location and traffic conditions when evaluating a venue.

When planning customer appreciation events, Liu says the company will generally choose a location with a beautiful natural and human landscape. Customers can not only exchange business experiences but can also relax and refresh themselves there.

For customers outside of Guangzhou, Liu would arrange for them to stay in the hotel where the meeting is held. Jianguo Hotel, Guangzhou and Holiday Inn City Centre Guangzhou are the two hotels that impress her most. Jianguo Hotel, Guangzhou's decor and sumptuous breakfast are very popular, while Holiday Inn City Centre Guangzhou is expert in promoting its brand. In addition to these hotels, the Ascott Guangzhou is also favored for its location, price, and facilities.

The distinctive regional cuisine is another of Guangzhou's strengths. Besides seafood and Canton cuisine, other Chinese and foreign dishes can also be found here and the prices are also quite competitive. The city also has beautiful landscapes including famous ones such as Yangcheng Ba Jing. Apart from business activities, customers can enjoy the beauty of the City. This is how the real business travel should be in Liu's opinion.

The Booming Hotel Sector
Development of Guangzhou's MICE industry has attracted many top-end hotels, while improvements of the hotels have attracted more guests.

Opportunities MICE Brings To Hotels
Sunny Paw, the general manager of the Shangri-La Hotel, Guangzhou, told China Hospitality News that in addition to the biannual Canton Fairs, there are other key fairs emerging in Guangzhou, such as the Furniture Fair, Dental Expo, the Automobile Show, and the Cosmetic Show. He believes that there is great potential for developing incentive travel to Guangzhou, especially with a number of new hotels opening in the city. He says "Rather than seeing this as competition, I believe it will keep us on our toes as we need to continuously reinvent ourselves by coming up with new event solutions to make Guangzhou and our hotel more interesting to MICE planners.”

The director of sales and marketing of The Westin Guangzhou, Li Zexi, believes that the development of Guangzhou's MICE sector influences the hotel sector both in Guangzhou and in other cities in Guangdong. As the travel infrastructure matures more Fortune 500 companies will more likely choose to come to the region. Moreover, the convenient transport, the distinctive shopping, the increase of the varieties and numbers of exhibitions and conventions all serve to attract business guests.

The general manager of the Jianguo Hotel, Guangzhou, David K. Lam, thinks that, as the leading city of the Pan-Pearl-River-Delta region, Guangzhou will remain the traffic hub and logistics center for South China due to its ideal location. Nowadays Guangzhou is becoming a more attractive MICE destination that can provide products, services and experiences that suit both local and international MICE markets. And of course Guangzhou will still focus on trade fairs.

Samuel Tsang, the general manager of Crowne Plaza Guangzhou Science City says the location, the unique natural environment, the folk customs of Southern China, its long history and rich culture, its numerous scenic spots, diversified entertainment as well as a well-developed tourism service industry have all contributed to making Guangzhou an important tourist destination in China. The twice-yearly China Import and Export Fair attracts more and more business guests to invest in the area every year.

Wilson Fieldhouse, the general manager of Novotel Baiyun Airport Guangzhou is of the opinion that fine dining, culture, and a convenient location are definitely the key elements that attract MICE business to Guangzhou. And, as the political, economic and technology center of the Pearl River Delta, it has attracted major global corporations, joint-ventures and state owned companies to set up branches in Guangzhou.

The Future For MICE In Guangzhou
Sunny Paw of Shangri-La Hotel, Guangzhou states that Guangzhou is a relatively unexplored city for MICE and with the current economic situation, MICE planners are challenged to come up with exciting yet cost effective places for such events. Moreover, the Guangzhou Municipal Government has invested a lot of money to upgrade its current infrastructure (roads, railway, airports, stadiums etc.) in preparation for the 2010 Asian Games.

Wilson Fieldhouse of Novotel Baiyun Airport Guangzhou thinks hotels should upgrade to develop MICE. He also points out that Novotel Baiyun Airport Guangzhou is to be re-branded as Pullman Guangzhou Baiyun Airport. Pullman is the Accor group's new chain of upscale hotels, catering for both individual business travelers and groups.

Sunny Paw says that with improvements in the city's comprehensive competitiveness as the core, and with the realization of industrialization, communication, and internationalization as the major goals, Guangzhou's citizens are striving to build the city into an economic and cultural center with a beautiful landscape. Guangzhou is well on the path to become a modern metropolis that will also promote the development of Guangzhou province, South China, and Southeast Asia.