Meetings And Exhibitions Advance Side By Side In Dalian

The Third Summer World Economic Forum will be held in Dalian on September 10, 2009, and the Dalian Municipal Government said it would spare no efforts to ensure the success of the forum and strive to make it a permanent event in the city and a new platform for international community to learn about the city.
Due to the current economic crisis, the whole world has now turned its eyes to China. Following the success of 2007 World Economic Forum, Dalian will, for a second time, host this international event and this will undoubtedly advance the city's convention and exhibition business to a higher level.

Dalian has a long history of developing the meeting and exhibition business. As early as in 1995, Dalian proactively put forward the concept of "Exhibition Economy". In 1997, the Dalian International Convention and Exhibition Center was completed and put into use. Dalian was the first city in China to set up a convention and exhibition office and to issue a management regulation on exhibition services. All these factors have laid down a strong basis for the scientific development of Dalian's convention and exhibition business and paved the way for it to host high level and professional exhibitions.

Dalian is an important port as well as an industrial, trading and tourism city in northern China. Its geographical location which features seas on the three sides of the city determines that it will follow a different road from other convention and exhibition cities in China such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. With the completion of the Dalian Xinghai Convention and Exhibition Center in 1996, Dalian's MICE sector has grown rapidly and it has become mature with more exhibition items, larger scale exhibitions, more diversified exhibition themes and more professional exhibitions. With the increasing number of exhibitions, Dalian's exhibition industry began to "keep slim" in 2006 when the city entered a stage of sound development: the number exhibition items decreased and exhibition areas increased. In that year, Dalian hosted a total of 119 exhibitions, which was a decrease of 33.6% over that of the previous year, but the exhibition areas reached 878,000 square meters, an increase of 22.6% compared with that of the year before. While achieving great success in "being slim", Dalian's exhibition business entered a period of virtuous and professional development.

During the course of meeting and exhibition development, Dalian not only makes exhibitions one of its economic growth areas, but also places great attention on meetings as well to realize a balanced development between the two. While it is preparing to host the China Summer World Economic Forum to be held on September 6-9, Dalian is taking the opportunity to develop its meeting and exhibition facilities. In the first half of this year, Dalian hosted 30 exhibitions, which was a decrease of 25% over that of the previous year. The exhibition areas in the period reached 435,000 square meters, an increase of 52% compared with that of the year before with each exhibition covering an average area of 14,500 square meters.

Dalian's Advantages
Located at the southernmost of the Liaodong Peninsula with the Huanghai Sea to the east and Bohai to the west, Dalian features an advantageous geographic location in China. Lying in a premier location of the Bohai coastal area, it is the portal to Beijing and Tianjin. It is adjacent to Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, and Inner Mongolia in northeast China and it lies across the sea from Shandong Peninsula while neighboring Japan, South Korea, North Korea, and the far easernt region of Russia.
Dalian Konggang is a 4E class international airport that currently offers more than 80 routes. Linking with over 60 cities from China and abroad, Dalian is an important international aviation center in Northeast Asia in terms of flight numbers and passenger and cargo-handling capacity. Dalian Harbor is a major harbor and it is complemented by more than 30 companies and professional wharf clusters including Beiliang Harbor, Dalian Bay New Harbor, Lvshun New Harbor, Changhai Harbor, and Pikou Harbor.

Dalian ranks eighth in China in terms of comprehensive economic strengths and enjoys provincial level economic management rights. In 2008, the GDP of Dalian reached CNY385.8 billion, an increase of 16.5% over that of 2007. Dalian is a strong industrial base and an important equipment manufacturing base in China. Its industry mainly consists of petroleum, chemicals, ship manufacturing, equipment manufacturing, electronic information systems, and software outsourcing. Dalian enjoys a strategic position in the Bohai Coastal Economic Zone. Taking advantage of being a neighbor to Japan, South Korea, and Russia, Dalian has made dramatic strides in its economy and trade. The excellent investment environment of Dalian has attracted many foreign companies to invest in the city and made it one of the regions in Northeast China drawing the most foreign investment. As an economic city, Dalian features a comprehensive infrastructure which ranks second to none in China. Meanwhile, its service industry is also well developed.

In recent years, Dalian's equipment manufacturing has shifted from production to R&D and this has provided strong support to Dalian's construction of a new type of industry base. Meanwhile, high-tech industry led by electronic information, biotech, modern medicine, and new energy has become the new growth point for the city. Dalian's software sales income has been growing by more than 50% for ten consecutive years. All this has laid down a strong foundation for Dalian's meeting and exhibition business.

Dalian is a famous summer resort and tourism city. It is not only nicknamed as a natural museum of half of China's contemporary history for its historical tourism resources, but it also has many a natural tourism resources and beautiful landscapes. The southern coastal scenic area, Lvshunkou Scenic Area, Jinshitan Scenic Area and Bingyugou Scenic Area are the four main places of interest of Dalian. Dalian has increaseded its investment in developing tourism resources and further consummated its tourism pattern with the southern coastal areas as the center, and Jinshitan and Lvshun as the two wings. Jinshitan National Tourism Resort features golf, a villa leisure center, an international cruise club, a hunting club, and many other entertainment services. In the downtown area of Dalian there are a leading forest zoo, Xinghai Square, Tiger Beach Ocean Park, Binghailu, and Bangchun Island. Lvshun's tourism resource includes Baiyushan Mountain, Dongjiguanshan Moutain, 203 High Ground, Golden Mountain Sea Bath. Incentive travel organizers can combine the local tourism resources with their own events, meetings, training, and exhibitions.

Dalian Xinghai Convention and Exhibition Center features an exhibition area of 25,000 square meters with advanced facilities and settings as well as complete service items. The newly built Dalian World Expo Center has an area of grassland and a square of around one million square meters that is close to the sea and is equipped with a complete set of functions that integrates finance; trade, meetings and exhibitions; offices; food and hotels; and culture and tourism. Each year it receives more than 10 million tourists from home and abroad and has become an international platform for Dalian's modern service industry.

With the development of exhibitions, branded exhibitions will be inevitable. Each of the world's exhibition cities has a group of well-known meeting and exhibition brands. To grow into a regional international meeting and exhibition center and expand its exhibition business, Dalian needs to play the cards of famous brand, nurture famous exhibition brands, and beome internationalized. At present, Dalian has had a preliminary pattern of clothing exhibitions, import and export commodity expositions, automobile exhibitions, and software trade fairs, all of which have a good outlook and will receive key support. Some exhibitions in Dalian need to try international operations and gain UFI qualification certificate in three to five years or an even longer time-frame before becoming a batch of internationally and domestic famous brands.

Hoteliers' Views
The Attractiveness Of Dalian's Exhibition Business
Wen Zhiping, the general manager of Dalian Shangri-La Hotel, said Dalian has several attractions for corporate clients holding MICE events. First, Dalian has an airport that provides non-stop international routes to Southeast Asia and other Asia Pacific countries. Second, Dalian features a mild climate. It is warm in winter and cool in summer. Even in summer, the temperature in Dalian is no more than 28 degrees. The best season for incentive travelers to visit Dalian between April and November. Third, Dalian features natural tourism resources being locate at the foot of mountains and close to the coast. There are three golf courses in Dalian. Dalian Xiali Golf is about 40 minutes drive from Dalian Shangri-la Hotel and it is the only golf venue in Liaoning province that is open to the public all year round. Dalian Shishitan Golf Club is one of the best golf courses in China. Both venues are built along the Bohai Bay and feature picturesque scenery. In addition, there are many other good leisure destinations in Dalian, such as the Kingdoms of Discovery, the largest themed park in Northeast China, the famous Ocean World, the Aqua Stadium. and the Pole Aquarium. Lvshun is a premier choice for travelers in the suburbs of Dalian where people can appreciate the cherry blossom and pick cherries and strawberries. Dalian's Xinghai Square is the largest square in Asia that is built along the coast. Xinghai Square is surrounded by World Expo Square, high-end properties, food square, Shell Museum, and international cruise clubs. All the above can be combined with incentive travel. Golf travel is one of the most popular themed travel products with clients. The Shell Museum offers a bird's view of the beautiful scenery of the Xinghai Square. It is one of the best places to hold a themed evening banquet. Wen said that famous companies such as Louis Vitton and Ferrari have held their events here.

Fourth, the total number of rooms of five star hotels is increasing in Dalian. Currently, there are about ten five-star hotels in Dalian, of which four are managed by international hotel management groups.

Fifth, Dalian is experienced in providing international meeting services. Dalian has been the venue for such famous international events as APEC, G20, and DAVOS. The city's facilities, ranging from hotel reception to medical services, transportation and security have ensured the success of these meetings. The World Expo Square located at Dalian Xinghai Square will host the Second World Economic Forum DAVOS meeting this year and this will make the city even better known in the world.

Kato Takayuki, the general manager of Hotel Nikko Dalian, stated that golf is an important factor in attracting corporate clients to Dalian for incentive travel, while Dalian's golf, seaside barbecues, and themed parties can all be incorporated into company's incentive travel plans.

Ge Bolin, the general manager of New World Hotel Dalian, believed that in addition to the mild weather, the people in Dalian are also very hospitable. Ge said that this beautiful seaside city has grown very quickly in recent years and is capable of hosting global meetings like the World Economic Forum.

Hotels' Strategies For MICE
What strategies do hotels in Dalian have in place to match the city's exhibition business development? The World Expo Square located on Dalian Xinghai Square will host the World Economic Forum DAVOS meeting for the second time this year and this will further increase Dalian's presence in the world arena. Kato Takayuki, the general manager of Hotel Nikko Dalian, said that the hotel would constantly launch new strategies and unique products to attract customers.

Ge Bolin,the general manager of New World Hotel Dalian, said that as a newly opened hotel, New World sees MICE as a major part of their business and they hope that 50% of their income will come from MICE. To this end, they have set up a range of market strategies to stimulate customers, including offering preferential prices to meeting planners and increasing valuable service items, for example, they have set up an11 meter electronic screen at the front door of the hotel for customers.

Wen Zhiping, the general manager of Dalian Shangri-La Hotel, told China Hospitality News that about 20% of the hotel's profit is contributed by MICE. Wend said that their hotel formally set up a MICE service team in 2007 to provide comprehensive remote services to customers, from sales in a different place to client consulting, booking and contract signing. All this is done by their special sales staff. In addition, the hotel has provided more valuable service for MICE planners, e.g. offering a handset telephone to facilitate their communications. Besides, the hotel plans to conduct an overall renovation on its 1,664 square meter banquet hall and update it with more advanced facilities.

Meeting And Exhibition Plans Not Affected By Financial Crisis

In the spring and autumn of each year, the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy will be in charge of the British education program on China International Education Tour Exhibition hosted by China's Ministry of Education. More than 100 staff from 60-80 schools in Britain will come to provide information on curricula, scholarships, visa applications and school boarding services to Chinese students. As it is a touring exhibition, it is held in different places each year. During the exhibition tour, a city will be chosen to show British education products. Liu Jing, education promotion manager of the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy, is mainly responsible for the promotion work in East China, North China and Southwest China. In her work plan, Dalian is an important market. Each year Liu will go to Dalian to promote British education products with her associates and representatives of British schools. Regarding this year's schedule, Liu told China Hospitality News that the economic depression is helpful to a certain degree by reducing the cost for students who are going to study abroad, so there is no plan to cutt the number of exhibitions for the time being.
Liu Jing stated that in addition to holding special promotions in Dalian during the education exhibition tour, they have held various forums related to Chinese and British education in Dalian. The reason that Dalian is chosen as one of the hottest cities to hold the British education exhibitions, meetings and training is because of its mature meeting and exhibition business. First, Dalian has the economic strength to host these events. Take studying overseas for example, it often involves a great deal of money to go to study in Britain, however, Liaoning province has been a main student source region for Britain. This hot studying-overseas market in Dalian is closely related to the local economic development level. Second, Dalian has complete hardware facilities for meetings and exhibitions. Dalian is a popular city. Coupled with its experience and expertise in holding other international exhibitions, Dalian has advantages in the exhibition industry. Third, the transportation in Dalian is convenient. Dalian's airport is about 30 minutes drive to the city center and it is convenient to go to the hotels in the downtown areas. Fourth, the hotels in Dalian provide complete facilities. Liu said that the hotels they cooperated with include Dalian Shangri-la Hotel, Kempinski Hotel Dalian, and Furama Hotel Dalian. Each of these hotels has good reception services to meet the various demands of education exhibitions and meetings. Fifth, Dalian people are of high quality and they are friendly to guests.

Hotel Service Makes Dalian More Favorable For Meetings

Jane Ji, the supervisor of the management section of the technical department at Panasonic Storage Battery (Shenyang) Co., Ltd. shared Panasonic Storage Battery (Shenyang)'s meeting experience with China Hospitality News. She said that each year in the spring Panasonic holds a China Region "Operation Guideline Release Meeting", "Supplier Communications Meeting and "Inauguration Ceremony", and it holds its dealer meeting in the summer . In addition, they will also hold some ad-hoc agent meetings and various training events. She said that most of their participants come from China, but some are from the European and America countries and Japan.

As to what the company will consider in choosing a hotel or meeting venue for clients from another place, Ji said that they have four considerations. The first is the location of the hotel. Usually they will choose a hotel that is located among a cluster of hotels of different grades. The second is the transportation. Usually they will choose a hotel that is close to the railway station and the bus station and is convenient to get to from the airport. The third is whether the hotel's facilities can meet their meeting demands. Often they require a desk style meeting (they have about 100-300 participants for the meeting), more than two screens and an LCD projector. Of course they will also need good audio and video equipment and multi-channel microphones. Sometimes they may need simultaneous interpretation equipment and frequency adjustable earphones, or online video conference equipment and meeting signs in the related entry and exit.

Lastly, they will consider whether the hotel's banquet hall can cater for their demands. As they will hold an appreciation banquet after the meeting, the banquet facilities are equally important as the meeting venues. Sometimes, they will consider running a small party after the banquet and at this time they will need an MTV, a bar, or a foot therapy center that is near to the hotel. Therefore it is important that the hotel has a complete set of facilities nearby. Ji said that Dalian hotels offer considerate service. For example, when they receive Japanese clients, they will arrange a Japanese speaking reception manager to provide a comprehensive service and offer a multiple choice of Chinese, Japanese, and Western style food which makes guests feel very comfortable. She said that Hotel Nikko Dalian has left a deep impression on her.

During the meeting intervals, Ji will arrange some special leisure activities for clients based on Dalian's tourism resources and local culture. Usually she will make use of any spare time to arrange for clients to visit such spots as Tiger Beach and Xinghai Square to show appreciation to them.

The Scope for Meeting and Exhibition Development in Dalian

Industry professionals believe that Dalian has already had the basic capacity, main facilities and conditions, to hold international meetings and it has the experience in this aspect. However, it has not made much headway in hosting international events. This means that there is a lot of scope for development. They say that with the increasing and deepening international cooperation and exchange, the entry of international famous exhibition companies will gradually break the existing competition pattern and advance the level of local exhibition service providers. Therefore, Dalian should make efforts to develop international cooperation, exchange clients, experience and technology by means of market share, grasp the opportunity for development and participate in international competition to boost its own city brand. In addition, it should create itself into a famous international exhibition city by attracting overseas exhibition companies to establish branches, introduce international exhibitions and accelerate the development of its meeting and exhibition businesses.