Jiao Jun is the executive sales director of the international convention and exhibition department of CITS MICE Company. He discusses the state of the Beijing travel market following the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
What advantages does your company have in the MICE market?
Firstly, our parent company CITS Head Office has more than 50 years of history, and the brand gives our clients and partners confidence. Secondly, the CITS MICE was established two months after CITS had been successfully listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in October 2009, thus providing an economic base for the company to fund in advance some programs for large-scale events. Thirdly, the company has professional MICE teams that can manage large-scale meetings and activities effectively — especially when there are emergencies.
What do you think of the Beijing business travel market in 2010? What are its characteristics?
The business travel market of Beijing in 2010 has truly reflected the changes in customer demands in the current financial environment. Demand for high-level travel is not high. The pharmaceutical industry holds a number of meetings of various sizes, showing people are concentrating more on their health due to environmental changes and stress. Auto shows, new car launches, test drives and other activities in the automobile industry show the potential purchasing power of domestic consumers.
If an event or meeting is to be held in a hotel, what are your requirements?
First, the venue must meet the needs of the event. If it is a new car launch, the hotel should have enough space to display some cars. If it is a large-scale international conference, there must be a hotel with international level of service near the venue. If it is an internal meeting of a company, the distance between the company and the venue should be considered carefully.
Hotels that the company has had a pleasant experience with in the past will probably be the first choice, all other things being equal. The staff of every hotel have their own ways of providing service, and if there has been cooperation in the past the company will be familiar with the activities of the hotel, and hotel would be better able to respond to the company's requirements. It might be less efficient if the company chooses to partner with a new hotel to partner.
Price is an unavoidable consideration. More and more hotels joined the market when Beijing hosted the 2008 Olympic Games. But after the Games, Beijing's hotel industry has experienced an oversupply problem that combined with the global financial crisis has led to the current buyer's market. Guests can see little difference as most hotels have the same five-star standard hardware facilities and service levels. And now price will be an important factor when customers make their final decision. Hotels are also competing with each other on price.
Please list all the hotels you have used.
I have been working in the Beijing MICE market for nine years and have cooperated with most of the five-star hotels in Beijing.
Which hotel's meeting products and services have impressed you the most? And why?
Recently the company has cooperated with Beijing Marriott Hotel City Wall and has been impressed with its products and service. Our client required about 1,000 guestrooms and was prepared to choose two or three hotels, which would have increased the workload of the team in making hotel reservations, allotting rooms and distributing gifts. When I recommended Beijing Marriott Hotel City Wall, the client immediately decided to use the 1,300-room hotel. The hotel offers many special services for meeting groups. For example, there is a special registration room for groups on the first floor with plenty of room for work and for guests to take a break. The parking lot around the hotel can hold the cars conveying the 1,000 participants. The professional sales and operation team of the hotel made many suggestions based on their experience in managing large-scale events.
What advantages does Beijing have as a MICE destination?
Beijing boasts unique advantages as a MICE destination.
Firstly, as the capital of China, Beijing is the political and economic center of the country; holding an event here has an unparalleled impact.
Secondly, Beijing has a long history with many historic relics and sites like the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, which are very fascinating to foreigners who are interested in Oriental culture. Furthermore Beijing the has modern dining and entertainment facilities of an international metropolis.
Thirdly, Beijing has enough hotels to meet the demands of guests. Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Marriott International, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, InterContinental Hotels, and Accor Hotels all have hotels in Beijing.
Fourthly, the city has an abundance of venues. For meetings, there is the Great Hall of the People, the China National Convention Center, Beijing International Convention Center, Beijing International Hotel Convention Center, Jiuhua Resort and Convention Center, and meeting venues in five-star hotels, and small and medium sized venues in commercial centers. For exhibitions, there is the China International Exhibition Center, New China International Exhibition Center, China National Agricultural Exhibition Center, China World Trade Center Exhibition Hall, and many others. For outdoor venues, there is Juyongguan Great Wall, Badaling Great Wall, Beijing Working People's Culture Palace, and the Olympic Green. These venues offer various choices to guests, as well as guaranteeing the operation of several large-scale events at the same time.
What resources in Beijing can be used in corporate MICE activities to a novel experience to your clients?
Seeing the flag-raising ceremony at Tiananmen Square; playing shuttlecock or diabolo and riding bicycles in Shichahai can be used as teambuilding activities; the weapon display and other activities on the Great Wall; a torch relay in the Bird's Nest; and interviews with the Olympic builders in the broadcasting tower on the one year anniversary of Beijing Olympic Games — all these these have been part our previous programs. And I am confident that by brainstorming we will think of even more creative things in the future.
Please share with our readers the details of a creative event.
My favorite example is the teambuilding activities in the Hutongs we organized for an outbound company several years ago. My team divided the 100 participants into five groups. Each member had to play with a shuttlecock for three times and then play with a diabolo for five seconds in the square of the south gate of Lotus Market. Then the whole group cycled around Shichahai and Qianhai. After returning the bikes, each group took a boat and rowed to the island in the lake. A simple award ceremony was held on the island to congratulate the first group to land on the island.
Because all of the participants were foreigners and they knew nothing about shuttlecock, diabolo or even boating, they had an interesting time during these games. When they finally arrived at the island, each person had a beer to celebrate their team's accomplishment. They experienced the unique activities of Beijing while having their teambuilding activity. I believe they will remember this just as I do — even after several years.