Each year more than 400,000 international conventions are held worldwide and the direct and indirect economic benefits exceed USD280 billion. The large potential of the industry in China, and the high returns, have attracted many governmental and non-governmental institutions to invest in the new business. Here we review some of the offerings in Shanghai and Hangzhou.
Shanghai New International Expo Center
Shanghai New International Expo Center is located in Pudong Development Zone, near the Century Park. It is 35 kilometers from Pudong International Airport and 32 kilometers from Hongqiao International Airport. China's first maglev train and Shanghai metro Line 2 meet near the SNIEC, with many bus lines nearby. Apart from exhibitions and expositions, the SNIEC is also a place for large-scale events with up to 4,000 attendees, such as large-scale seminars, banquets, corporate anniversary celebrations, incentive meetings, annual staff meetings, sports, shooting films and television commercials, new products promotion fairs, and non-commercial exhibitions. Now SNIEC has 11 pillar-less halls covering a total of 126,500 square meters, and its outdoor exhibition area is 100,000 square meters. The overall expansion project of SNIEC is planned to be completed in 2010 and by then the indoor exhibition area will reach 200,000 square meters and outdoor exhibition area will reach 130,000 square meters. The expansion is expected to further consolidate its leading position in China, and also ensure Shanghai's leading position among East Asia convention and exhibition centers.
Radisson Hotel Pudong Century Park
Tony Tan is the director of business development at Radisson Hotel Pudong Century Park. He points out that the hotel is, so far, the nearest one to Shanghai New International Expo Center, and it hosts 10,000 people each year who are participating in exhibitions. The convenient location has brought many opportunities to the hotel. Tan thinks that MICE guests pay more attention to the area of meeting rooms enough for group discussion, complete meeting facilities, attentive service and fine location. In the MICE high season, hotel provides a shuttle bus between SNIEC and the hotel.
The hotel has altogether 750 square meters of meeting space with full facilities, including a 6.5-meter high ballroom, and 10 multifunctional meeting rooms suitable for events of between six and 300 people.
The development of the hotel industry has brought more choices to guests, and improved the capacity of the city to host MICE events. On the other hand, the healthy competition would impel hotels to improve their service quality. Take the Singapore UBS meeting as an example. The management from UBS headquarters liked the hotel's rooms very much and so decided to rent 16 rooms as meeting rooms for group discussion. The hotel moved out all the furniture in these rooms in a short time and arranged meeting tables and other facilities, as well as setting up an exclusive elevator to ensure the success of the company's meetings.
Sheraton Shanghai Hotel and Residences Pudong
Located in Lujiazui, the central area of Pudong New District, Sheraton Shanghai Hotel and Residences Pudong is part of a complex consisting of two hotels, residences, an office building, and a shopping center. It is near to the Nanpu Bridge, and Expo 2010 is only five minutes' drive away. The hotel also has easy access to Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park, Jinqiao Export Processing Zone, Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone, and offices of many large corporations. It only takes 30 minutes to reach Hongqiao International Airport by taxi.
The hotel's 525 rooms and 141 apartment suites can satisfy the needs of business travelers. The total 1,500 square meter meeting space including a pillar-less ballroom suitable for events of five to 700 people.
Shanghaimart Expo has a total exhibition area of about 20,000 square meters with 2,000 square meters of multifunctional rooms and meeting rooms of various sizes. It is located at the core area of Hongqiao Foreign Trade Center and has easy access to the Hongqiao Integrated Transport Hub. The Yili Road subway station on Line 10 is within five minutes' walk, and more than 10 bus stops can be found nearby. There are five five-star hotels and over ten three- and four-star hotels near the Shanghaimart Expo.
Guoman Hotel Shanghai
The hotel opened its doors in June 2010 as part of Shanghai Guoson Center. Located in the Changfeng Ecological Business District, Guoman Hotel Shanghai is adjacent to the No. 4 gate of Changfeng Park.
The hotel has 422 rooms with beautiful views, including 125 suites and a presidential suite. It also has a grand ballroom can sit up to 750 persons and 11 fully-equipped meeting rooms. It is suitable for various banquets, meetings, and business activities.
Sheraton Shanghai Hongqiao Hotel
Sheraton Shanghai Hongqiao Hotel is at the center of Hongqiao District: between the downtown area and the Hongqiao International Airport, which is a 15-minute drive away. It only takes 40 minutes to get to Pudong International Airport, 30 minutes to get to the Shanghai New International Expo Center, and 40 minutes to get to the Shanghai International Circuit via the new urban freeway system. It also neighbors INTEX Shanghai and Shanghaimart Expo.
The hotel has 587 rooms and suites altogether. It boasts 1,508 square meters of banquet and meeting spaces including a pillar-less ballroom and 10 meeting rooms that can accommodate 800 guests at the same time.
Grand Mercure Hongqiao Shanghai
The 496-cityview-suites hotel is at the center of Hongqiao District. Hongqiao Airport is 10 minutes' drive away, Pudong Airport is 45 minutes' drive away, and a subway station is nearby. Facilities and services of the hotel include a fitness center, a sauna, restaurants, bars, room service, and a private covered parking lot. A grand ballroom and 13 multifunctional meeting rooms with full meeting facilities can meet the demands of various meetings.
Conference and Exhibition Center of WLEGHZ
Conference and Exhibition Center of WLEGHZ is a modern professional conference and exhibition venue built at an investment of CNY250 million by the Wolrdland Group. It has a total floor area of 56,680 square meters and equipped with advanced facilities. With a hight of nine meters the 10,000-square-meter Exhibition Hall A is suitable for exhibitions of special equipment, while the 8,900-square-meter Hall B and 17,718-square-meter Hall C are suitable for ordinary exhibitions with heights of 4.5 meters.
First World Hotel
The five-star-standard First World Hotel is a Southeast Asia tropical rainforest theme hotel invested in by Wolrdland. It has 800 guest rooms, meeting rooms for 20 to 3,000 persons, a 60,000-square-meter exhibition center, and a grand theater for 3,500 people that is capable of undertaking meetings of various sizes. APEC SME Summit, China (International) Leisure Development Forum, China Higher Education International Forum, and National Pharmacy Exposition, are just some of the events have been held here. The hotel neighbors the Conference & Exhibition Center of WLEGHZ, and Zhejiang cultural and creative industrial parks, providing services include dining, accommodation, tour, meeting, entertainment, shopping and exhibition together with other types of business nearby.
New Century Grand Hotel Hangzhou
Five-star luxury business hotel New Century Grand Hotel Hangzhou is the flagship hotel of New Century Tourism Group, and is the tallest tower in Hangzhou with a height of 218 meters and 47 floors. The hotel is located in Xiaoshan CBD, only 15 kilometers to Xiaoshan International Airport and a stone's throw at the express way. From the hotel it is a 30-minute drive to the West Lake, and 44 kilometers to the historic city of Shaoxing.
The hotel has three 1,000 square meters of large meeting rooms and another 15 meeting rooms of different sizes equipped with up-to-date facilities. The hotel has refurbished its meeting facilities to meet the requirements resulting from the 2010 Expo. The 699 refurbished rooms offer a comfortable experience to guests. And the hotel says its FCS system will provide a convenient service to guests everywhere.
Sofitel Hangzhou Xanadu Resort
Sofitel Hangzhou Xanadu Resort is Hangzhou's leading conference, meeting and events venue. The sesort is set in a natural environment and incorporates the World Leisure Folk Garden, the official venue of the World Leisure Expo 2006.
Hangzhou Polar Ocean Park is within five minutes' drive from the hotel. The hotel features 301 guestrooms that include 19 suites and 70 Sofitel Club rooms. The ballroom offers 460 square meters of event space and can accommodate up to 550 guests for a cocktail reception and 350 in a classroom meeting set-up. The VIP reception center on the banks of the lake is an exclusive meeting and dining venue, ideal for private dinners, weddings, cocktail parties and corporate meetings. The hotel's other various-sized meeting rooms provide ample space for business events: accommodating between 10 and 450 people.
The hotel's "Inspired Meeting" team offers overall meeting planning and a butler service throughout business meetings, conferences and exhibitions, and incentive travel during the Expo 2010. The pillar-less grand ballroom that can accommodate 800 people is a place for vehicle test drives and displays, and fashion show. The platform at Swan Lake is the right place for fashion parties and creative team building activities.
MICE Hotels Should Improve Soft Power
Zhongwan Conference Industry (Beijing) Compant is a professional conference organizer providing convention and exhibition solutions, as well as strategic management consultation services, to enterprises, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Liu Youqian, the president, says that the company mainly targets the activities of government agencies and non-governmental organizations, especially industrial conferences co-planned with industrial associations or chambers of commerce, as well as charters, councils and member representative conferences of NGOs. For example, it has undertaken conferences on the national quality supervision system. Liu states that the area and the number of meeting rooms, a professional meeting reception, and local cuisine are the main factors in choosing the proper hotel venue.
The current Chinese meeting market can be divided into three segments. First, government meetings. Though the market share of this part is declining in recent years, yet the standard and spending are increasing along with the social progress. Second organization meetings, these account for 50%-60% of the total market share. Organizations here refer to foundations, private non-profit enterprises, and social organizations. Among social organizations the most dynamic ones are economic industrial associations and chambers of commerce, occupying almost half of the meeting market. Third, corporate meetings, including new product launches, customer appreciation, incentive travel, and annual meetings, are increasing along with the improvement of enterprise benefits. One big change in the meeting market is that business meetings are beginning to be held in a fixed destination to create brand events. Meeting venues are also becoming high-end ones in scale, number, and spending. For example, in the past organization meetings used to be held in three-star hotels, but now more and more are choosing four- and five-star hotels. Zhongwan has organized meetings in Beijing International Convention Center and China National Convention Center.
Business hotels are improving their hardware facilities as well as services in recent years as they see the potential of the meeting market. Meeting meals are changing from banquets to buffets, which is also a change in consumption habit. Buffets are more convenient and interactive.
Lui says MICE hotels still need to improve their services. Hotels' MICE teams need to improve their coordination capabilities in case emergencies happen during meetings and these have to be solved immediately. A MICE team should coordinate multiple departments of the hotel to handle these things to show the soft power of a MICE hotel.