A strong exhibition industry is an important criterion in measuring a Chinese city's internationalization and economic and social development level. Much attention bas been paid to the exhibition economy in recent years for its positive effect on dining, lodging, transportation, tourism, advertising, decoration, and shopping.
Nanjing municipal government and Nanjing Municipal CPC Committee attach great importance to the exhibition economy this year, and have fixed the year 2009 as the city's Exhibition Economy Year to cope with the challenges brought by the global financial crisis.
The Current Situation of Nanjing's Exhibition Economy
Though Nanjing's exhibition economy started later than those of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, it has achieved great progress through years of development. The country's fifth largest exhibition venue, the newly-built Nanjing International Expo Center has space for 6,000 standard stands and 24 meeting rooms of different sizes, and its indoor and outdoor exhibition areas are 10,000 square meters and 50,000 square meters respectively.
Currently China has 58 international exhibitions that are approved by The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI), and 22 are members of UFI. Of these most are held in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. The Shanghai Auto Show, the China Import & Export Fair in Guangzhou, the China High-tech Fair in Shenzhen, and the West Lake Expo in Hangzhou are a few of the internationally recognized exhibitions in China. Many second and third tier cities are concerned they do not have their own exhibition brands, and this is the case with Nanjing. The city is now seeking its own position through international exchanges and cooperation. In 2008, Nanjing signed a cooperative agreement with the German Messe Friedrichshafen GmbH and the Asia Outdoor organizing committee saying that the Asia Outdoor Trade Fair will be held in Nanjing for the next five years. In last year's Asia Outdoor, 245 domestic and foreign brands participated in the fair, an increase of 15% in numbers compared with 2007. Other high-level exhibitions and conventions like The 76th IASC World Congress, The Fourth International Meat Secretariat World Pork Conference, International Internet Summit, and Nanjing Mayor-International Entrepreneurs Forum are also held in Nanjing, showing that the city is becoming more and more influential in the exhibition industry.
While exploiting international cooperation, Nanjing is also creating exhibition brands related to its strengths in industries such as the International Software Product Expo, International Auto Expo, electronic product exhibitions, art and culture exhibitions, chemical product exhibitions, machinery and equipment exhibitions, medicine exhibitions, and talent fairs. These exhibitions mean a lot to Nanjing's exhibition market since they are becoming more and more important.
Advantages of Developing the Exhibition Industry
The development of the exhibition industry can bring huge business opportunities to tourism, while tourism is the fundamental condition for the exhibition industry. The strong relationship between the two creates opportunities for MICE business.
Nanjing is located at the intersection of China's coastal economic belt and Yangtze River economic belt. As one of the four central cities of Yangtze River Basin, Nanjing occupies an important position in China's opening-up strategies. The modern communication network consisting of program controlled telephone, mobile communications, microwave communication, digital optical fiber communication, and broadband networks makes Nanjing a communication hub for East China.
Nanjing has a history of more than 2,470 years, and 24 dynasties have chosen Nanjing as their capital, thus it is known as one of four ancient capitals of China (the other three are Beijing, Xi'an and Luoyang). This historical culture has left Nanjing a variety of legacies. The 23-kilometer ancient city wall from Ming Dynasty with more than 600 years of history, the 1,500 years of producing cloud pattern brocade that only be made by hand, and the Xiaoling Tomb from the Ming Dynasty are among the top cultural heritage sites in Nanjing.
For transport, railways, highways, waterways, civil aviation, and pipelines are all available in Nanjing; and Nanjing Lukou International Airport has more than 80 international and domestic passenger and freight routes, while the highways and railways link Nanjing to main Chinese cities.
The Hotel View
The hotel industry of Nanjing has developed greatly in recent years. Hotels now consider the exhibition economy as one of the most important sectors from which they can gain much benefit.
Kevin Qin, the general manager of Sofitel Zhongshan Golf Resort Nanjing, told China Hospitality News that more and more star-rated hotels have satisfied the diverse needs of various events with the rapid development of Nanjing's exhibition tourism. The hotel's special Inspired Meeting tailor-makes each meeting based on the client's specific needs. No matter whether it is corporate meetings, business negotiations, a social dinner or a personal party, the hotel will offer dedicated and professional services in consideration of meeting facilities, technology, dining, lodging, events, and service. The hotel's restaurants can provide the guests with a range of international cuisines. Now the hotel's second phase project is under construction with 159 guest rooms and suites and a 1,500-square meter ballroom.
According to Qin Nanjing's exhibition tourism has great potential since the historical and cultural city has rich tourism resources, convenient land and water transport, and comprehensive hardware and software facilities.
The general manager of Sofitel Galaxy Nanjing, Christophe Lauras, comments that Nanjing is one of China's most modern cities. Fast trains to Shanghai, city subway, sports facilities, entertainment areas and points of tourism interest are abundant. MICE events can be combined with cultural activities (Nanjing's past is very well represented by the Emperor's tombs, the Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum, and many more attractions) and with many discovery or sporting activities. Shopping and dining can also be highlights as Nanjing is a really vibrant city.
The hotel participates to all major trade shows around the country to promote Nanjing as a great MICE destination. As it is only two hours away from Shanghai, Nanjing is a great alternative to Shanghai as it can provide the same facilities and the same modernity.
To Lauras, Nanjing has still to be developed. Its evolution has been so fast that many organizers did not realize the full potential of the city. Nanjing is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.
MICE: Safety First
Ericsson (China) Communications Company has been developing rapidly over the last few years in China, according to Kong Xiangyu, the director of purchasing department Greater China, Ericsson. As a multinational corporation, it has to consider the benefit to the company, its customer satisfaction, and its staff's satisfaction. Incentive travel will be awarded to outstanding staff so that they can get a better understanding of the corporate culture of the company. And, the company often takes part in communication exhibitions inside and outside of China including exhibitions on electronics, information technology, and communication technology. In addition, the company will hold various technology meetings and a year-end meeting every year.
According to Kong the company would outline the budget for next year's meeting events by the end of each year. Due to the impact of the economic crisis in 2008, incentive travel for staff in 2009 will be reduced in time and scale and will be mostly within China. However the company will still participate most of the industrial exhibitions.
For incentive travel, Kong said that they would mainly consider the following three aspects. First is the site. The destination should be safe and secure enough. For example, countries and areas that have reported influenza A (H1N1) will not be taken into consideration. Second, agents' qualifications, capital, performance, group insurance and assessment of local partners is very important. Third, agents' abilities in cost control, resource integration, and risk control should also be examined.
Ericsson China has a branch in Nanjing which often arranges for its customers to come to the city for training, factory visits, and meetings. Various departments also hold meetings and other events in Nanjing. Some four and five–star hotels of famous brands would be their first choice. Meanwhile Kong said that Nanjing's historical cultural has impressed him a lot.
Nanjing's Business Travel & Leisure
Liu Rong, who is in charge of the hotel booking for corporate meetings and other events of Alcatel Shanghai Bell Company's Nanjing Office, said that the company would organize various training activities each year. In Nanjing, the company used to hold trade union training, environmental training and outdoor development programs, themed ISO900 certification, and the introduction of new labor policy with 50-100 participants.
When booking hotels in Nanjing for colleagues from the company's headquarters, Liu would take distance, room type, star rating, broadband, breakfast, and transportation into account. Liu used to book rooms of Jinling Hotel Nanjing, Tianfeng Hotel, Eastern Pearl Hotel, Lakeview Xuanwu Hotel, and Sofitel Galaxy Nanjing. Of these hotels, Jinling Hotel Nanjing, Lakeview Xuanwu Hotel and Sofitel Galaxy Nanjing are quite impressive for their dedicated service.
Liu highly recommends the Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum, Xuanwu Lake, the Confucius Temple, the Presidential Palace, and the Zhanyuan Palace to guests from outside Nanjing. For those who have sufficient free time, the Ming Dynasty Culture Village will be a good choice for guests to experience the life style of the Ming Dynasty. Nanjing's famous snacks, duck blood and bean-starch vermicelli, spiced eggs and stinky tofu, are not to be missed either.