Despite the impact of the financial crisis and A (H1N1) influenza, there is still plenty of room for growth in the high-end travel market. For many enterprises MICE is a management tool that can showcase corporate culture, strengthen corporate unity, motivate staff, and build teams.
When executive business travelers and MICE guests become ordinary tourists, their travel demands and ideas will be enhanced and their personal interests and hobbies will become part of their expectations when traveling . Tourists who have experienced MICE or business travel usually have higher expectations than other travelers, and this is a reason for the emergence of personalized high-end tourism.
Britain is a major high-end tourism destination due to its long history the noble spirit of its people and its rich tourism resources. According to Charlie Li, the representative of the VisitBritain Beijing office, high-end tourism is an inevitable product in the mature tourism market. However high-end tourism doesn't mean high-cost tourism. It refers to products targeting well-educated people with high incomes and seeking a high-quality life style. High-end tourism should include lements of both leisure travel and business travel. Consumers of high-end tourism have higher requirements for lodging and dining; the routes they choose are usually tailor-made and in-depth. China's high-end tourism market is now looking very promising to most travel professionals.
Li says that there are usually two steps in promoting high-end tourism products in China. First, VisitBritain will help China's tour operators know more about Britain's high-end tourism products and learn how to manage these products. Second, they will focus on the promotion of certain high-end tourism products such as golf. Golf is among the most popular travel products in China in recent years and Scotland will see great benefits from this since it is the origin of golf.
In recent years Britain has always been among the top five in the country and city ranking published by International Congress & Convention Association. A MICE group of about 1,000 people from China went to Britain recently to enjoy different culture. So, what are the advantages of Britain as a MICE destination?
London is Britain's most important MICE destination. As the capital of the country, it has incomparable advantages: over 100,000 registered hotels, convenient transport, and a number of exhibition and convention centers. As the host of 2012 Olympic Games, the city's facilities are being further enhanced.
Earls Court and Olympia Exhibition Center, landmark buildings in London, began to hold exhibitions 1886 and 1937. Now they receive over two million visitors each year and generate business and tourism revenues of GBP1.2 billion. Over 25,000 enterprises come here each year to attend for various exhibitions. The London Convention Centre, which opened in November 2000, has Britain's largest exhibition space.
Besides exhibitions and business activities, high-end tourists can also enjoy the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace (the quondam home of Princess Diana), and the famous London Eye. If tourists want to experience the life of the 1920s or 1930s, they can travel on the Orient Express. At night, tourists can go to the theater to enjoy the best seats, attentive waiters, and fine champagne.
Apart from London, Birmingham in England and Glasgow in Scotland are also among Britain's well-known MICE destinations. Birmingham holds international and domestic exhibitions and conventions, while Glasgow focuses on business exhibitions and conventions of northern Britain, and also some international events. There are many high-end tourism products for development such as visiting ancient castles, golf tours, and luxury rail travel in the Royal Scotsman.
The New Forest and the coastal waters of southern England are the right places for team-building activities. Here each team will be equipped with a high-performance powerboat to finish the waterway challenge and then complete a land challenge in a 4×4 vehicle. Teams must finish their task by messages from eyewitnesses to discover the secret and open a hidden box with the correct password combination. Employees will be united to finish the task, which is a good formula for team building.
Scotland is also a hot MICE destination. The Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre is the public exhibition center of Scotland and is close to open countryside. Queen's Dock in Glasgow, which is currently under redevelopment, will make the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre a comprehensive venue for exhibitions, conferences, and entertainment.
In Scotland, MICE guests can go to a manor in southern Edinburgh to participate in the Scottish Highland games. Bagpipers there will welcome visitors with coffee and shortbread. And then guests will be divided into several groups to take part in Scottish Highland games such as tossing the caber, hockey, highland dancing, and tug-of-war.
After these physical activities, guests can enjoy a delicious picnic on the farm and then go to the famous Glenkinchie Distillery and taste a unique Lowland Single Malt.
Ideally guests can wear the traditional Scottish kilt with jacket, waistcoat, and sporran. The Royal Yacht Britannia is a good place for guests to experience a royal life-style. After dinner, a finale of 16 bagpipes and drums and a special parade will be presented to the guests.
All in all, high-end tourism in Britain has integrated different elements including the royal experience, rural scenery, golf experience, and modern arts, and would greatly impress MICE guests.
Japan: Bureikou MICE
Kashiwagi Takahisa is the representative of the Japan National Tourism Organization Beijing Office. Shortly after personal tourist visas became available for Chinese China Hospitality News visited Kashiwagi. According to Kashiwagi, this measure will not only benefit individual tourists, but will be important to high-end MICE and business travel. Tourists returning to China will tell their family and friends about their experiences in Japan and this will inevitably attract more tourists to the country. This would also impact the decision making process of corporate MICE planners.
In Japan, tourism is more than just visiting tourist attractions — it also includes inspections and meetings. MICE has a history of at least 15 years in Japan. At the end of each year, the company would reward its staff by a special tourism fund — this was the initial model for Japan's MICE and was unique to that country. Companies would go to hot springs where the boss and employees could relax together disregarding superior-subordinate relationships: this is called "Bureikou" in Japanese. With the development of this kind of corporate travel, Japan's MICE market is also developing rapidly; MICE facilities and conference centers are becoming more and more sophisticated.
Kashiwagi Takahisa introduced several MICE destinations to China Hospitality News.
Tokyo is an international metropolis with diversities. Besides well-know areas such as the Ginza, Shinjuku, Asakusa and Shibuya, there are also many districts with distinguished features such as Akihabara. Japan's largest exhibition venue, Tokyo International Exhibition Center, is in the Tokyo Waterfront Subcenter, which also boast a number of places of entertainment. The most unique MICE facilities in Tokyo are gallerys and museums such as the Tokyo National Museum.
Yokohama is Japan's second largest city in terms of population and is also quite near to Tokyo. MICE teams can hold banquets on Hakkei-jima Island or in the Yokohama Museum of Art.
Osaka is the country's third largest city. MICE teams will receive a warm welcome once they land on Kansai International Airport. Economy hotels, international chain hotels, and local hotels in Osaka can meet the different demands of guests. Guests can also try to make grilled octopus balls and pull instant noodles with their own hands.
Nagoya is half way between of Tokyo and Osaka. MICE guests can travel to Nagoya by Shinkansen from Tokyo and Osaka. As the industrial heart of Japan, Nagoya has the country's best industrial tourism resources with Toyota and Noritake as the most distinguished ones. Here tourists can also try on kimonos and learn ikebana, the tea ceremony, and how to make hand rolled sushi. Tokugawa Garden is a special place for MICE.
Kyoto Japan's historical political and cultural center and has many ancient buildings such as shrines and temples. Kabuki in kimono can be seen in the streets of Gion. Guests can stay at temples, and enjoy the country's traditional arts.
As one of Japan's four islands, Kyushu is a place that is not so familiar to Chinese. Rural scenery and hot springs are quite famous here. In Sapporo, teambuilding activities can include ski jumping. In Hokkaido, it is great fun to make snowman in winter.
Zhou Jing from China International Travel Service Head Office said that high-end tourism targets groups of people that mature consumption concept. Tour groups that stay in four and five-star hotels can be deemed to be high-end tourists. Hot spring hotels are included in high-end products in Osaka. For business guests, it is necessary to know their expectations before choosing the best tourism products. For those who are quite familiar with Japan's conventional tourist attractions, travel agencies would make specific plans to meet their specific demands. For those who visit Japan for the first time, it wouldl be better to recommend conventional tourist attractions.
Relax In Hawaii
Hawaii is quite familiar to most Chinese business travelers, and is also a destination that MICE teams like very much. The fascinating scenery and the busy meetings and events, laid back beach parties, and intense business negotiation, can be combined together perfectly in Hawaii.
Aloha is the word Hawaiians use to say hello to each other. The hospitality it represents can be found everywhere in Hawaii.
Hawaii half way between America and Asia, and that is why Hawaii is so popular for international conventions. To promote the development of MICE, the Hawaii government invested USD200 million in 1997 to build the Hawaii Convention Center, which opened for business in 1998. The Hawaii Convention Center is located on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, the capital city of Hawaii. It has 47 meeting rooms of various sizes, two theaters with tiered seating, and a large exhibition hall, which can accommodate 5,000 to 10,000 people for different meetings.
The Hawaii Convention Center also has a 1,900-square meter kitchen for entertaining guests. A complete range of services is available including catered meals and banquets, coffee, and refreshment services. Exhibitors and visitors are able to have dinner in the ballroom or at the open platform of the Center instead of returning to their hotels.
It is said that there would be an event every five days held in the Center. Compared with those commercial exhibitions held in Las Vegas and Chicago, events held in Hawaii are mostly industry annual meetings, seminars, academic forums, and professional exhibitions. The industries involved are medicine, communication and finance. Chinese are now more actively taking part in events such as the ISMRM Seventeenth Scientific Meeting and Exhibition, and the IEEE Annual Meeting. International corporations in insurance, automobile, finance, medicine and health product sectors all like to choose Hawaii as the destination for their training, annual meetings, and commendation meetings.
Hawaii is the 50th state of the USA, consisting of six main islands and a number of smaller islands. The diversified culture has brought various holidays and celebrations to Hawaii. MICE organizers can combine their own activities with local activities.
The pleasant climate makes Hawaii the right place for outdoor activities such as golf, tennis and sea sports. Hawaii has 65 golf courses and a mature public park system including seven national parks, 77 state parks, 586 county parks, and many botanical gardens. In addition, Hawaii also has 282 public tennis courts, 2,100 havens for boats and over 1,600 surf spots. Maui and Oahu have the best wind and wave conditions in the world.
Six islands in Hawaii are available for visitors, of which Lanai is the smallest in area. The island has unspoiled natural beauty and the most unique wild flora and fauna in Hawaii.
Lanai is a pure and superior paradise for spending holidays. It is just like a private garden with only two five-star resorts. You can enjoy not only the beautiful tropical island, but combine the natural beauty and various activities such as golf, shooting, archery, mountaineering and water sports.
The 102 room Four Seasons Resort Lana'i, The Lodge at Koele, which is situated in the dramatic central highlands of the secluded island of Lana'i, is an elegant traditional English country house style hotel. The retreat also has an orchid greenhouse, putting greens, lawn bowls, a croquet lawn, bike rental, a heated swimming pool, gym, tennis court, library, concert hall, and gardens.
Built amidst rolling hills, the luxurious Four Seasons Resort Manele Bay combines a Mediterranean beach village and the Hawaiian design style. It is also a good place for snorkeling. With luck tourists can see dolphins there.
The Experience at Ko'ele and The Challenge at Manel are the most famous golf courses in Lanai. Business guests who are interested in golf can have great fun here.