Zheng Lidong the regional director of HNA Leyou International Travel Service Chongqing, and Grand China Yuntong International Travel Service general manager tells China Hospitality News about the prospects for MICE in Chongqing.
His company is a subsidiary of HNA Tourism and — taking advantage of the HNA Group — the agency operates domestic, inbound, and outbound tourism, as well as MICE business.
According to Zheng, Chongqing's tourism market has experienced three stages of development since the early 1990s. From 1992 to 1996 Chongqing began to open to Taiwan tourists, from 1996 to 2000, the city began to open to Japanese tourists, and starting from 2000, European and American tourists began to come to Chongqing. High-end hotels have been constructed along with the development of tourism market. It is learned that by 2015 Chongqing will have more than 50 four and five-star new hotels. These hotels provide the necessary conditions for Chongqing to develop MICE.
Chongqing is one of the most promising cities in western China, with a strong economic growth. It has attracted a lot of investment under the Western Development program, and many foreign enterprises are entering the city which has brought many guests to hotels. Chongqing municipal government has increased investment in infrastructure construction to improve soft power and attract more luxury hotels.
Under these circumstances, Chongqing Grand China Yuntong International Travel Service has followed its own path. Zheng said the agency mainly has three advantages in the MICE business. First, it has gathered a group of dedicated professionals. Second, it has its own operating platform developed by the company and TravelSky, providing easy connection with contracting enterprises. Third, by using the aviation resources of HNA Group the company has achieved a mature one-stop ground service including pickup, hotel reservation and customized travel.
Hotels are an important sector for business and MICE guests, according to Zheng. The brand is his first concern and an international five-star hotel will be the first choice for its standard service, Geographic location is the second important factor and usually Zheng would like to choose hotels in the downtown area or near the Binjiang Road. Price is another factor to compare among different hotels. Fourth, new hotels will usually have promotions with new facilities and offer more choices to business and MICE guests.
Hotels are now paying more attention to the expansion of the meetings market as there are more and more meetings held in Chongqing, said Zheng. Of all hotels he has cooperated with, JW Marriott Chongqing and InterContinental Chongqing are the best to him, since both are international brands with an ideal location in Yuzhong District.
Chongqing as a MICE destination boasts certain advantages. First, it has very convenient transportation, and the farthest hotel from the airport is only 30 kilometers away. Second, it is cheaper than other big cities in western China. Third, the city has abundant tourism products, and different itineraries can be made depending on the days guests will stay in the city. If there is only one day available, Zheng would recommend Chongqing People's Hall, Hongya Cave, Ciqikou ancient town, and Diaojiaolou. If there are two days, guests can visit the Fairy Hill, Dazu Rock Carvings, or enjoy local food in Hongya Cave, or go shopping in Jiefangbei, Shapingba, Yangjiaping, Guanyinqiao or Nanping Pedestrian Street.
A meeting on a cruise in the Three Gorges will be a good way of meeting clients, Zheng said. Formerly the cruises were only open to foreign guests, but now high-end domestic guests account for a large part of the customers. There are a range of three- to five-star cruises for clients to choose for a meeting venue. Zheng said he and his team had organized China UnionPay's cruise meeting for more than 100 people.