The main reason why a destination should promote the MICE segment is because of the potential it has for boosting the economy, although there are other reasons that have a direct link with the economic impact and that are worth talking about.
Tourists travelling for business reasons or congresses represent 15% of total tourism. Despite this being a small figure in comparison with the amount of tourists who travel for leisure or holidays (53%) the benefits that this type of tourism brings to a city are many, especially for smaller cities or regions that are not amongst the major international tourist destinations.
In the following article we will set out the main reasons why a destination should promote the MICE segment.
1. Economic impact
In a previous article, “MICE tourism helps revitalize the economy mice”, we spoke about the economic impact that organising congresses and meetings can have on a destination, but we must point out that as well as all the services that are mobilised specifically for them, there are many other sectors that also benefit from the arrival of this type of tourist. Other businesses complement the needs of these visitors and also benefit indirectly from all the activity generated by these events.
Gema Igual, Mayor of Santander, is aware of this and so is trying to push this type of tourism in the city where in 2015 the MICE segment produced over 28 million euros profit.
2. Reducing seasonal limitations
One of the main reasons that a city should promote the MICE segment is because it helps mitigate the seasonal nature of a destination. Congresses, meetings and events are usually held during the months when there are no holidays, and, many congresses and fairs are programmed midweek depending on the audience and field that they are aimed at.
The times of year when there tends to be a peak of events are from April to June and from September to November.
This means that the events segment can perfectly complement the leisure segment and help to provide a more constant flow of activity and visitors, therefore allowing the creation of more jobs and more stable work contracts.
An example of this is in the Costa del Sol, where they are trying to promote this sector in the province and in doing so reduce seasonal limitations and increase the income derived from the tourism industry in the region.
3. An alternative to saturation
When a mature destination arrives at a point where it has a saturation of tourists in high season or certain days such as the weekends, it is necessary to look for alternatives to halt this situation. This is what happens in mature resorts that base their strategy around “sun and sand”. When an alternative exists such as MICE tourism, it isn’t necessary to dedicate so many resources to promoting holiday tourism. More visitors will arrive, but in a more staggered way and so a more sustainable business model is achieved long term.
4. Better quality tourism
The MICE tourist spends on average double the amount that a traditional tourist spends, even up to six times more depending on the destination. Their tourist profile is one that expects to receive more premium services and tends to use more additional services.
The average daily spend is also greater, being around 200€, and can be more depending on the city that is hosting the congress.
This is due to various factors, the first being that the spending power of this type of guest tends to be medium-high and so they will usually spend more than a conventional tourist. Also to be taken into account is that the greater part of the expenses including food will be covered by their company and this allows the tourist to spend more of their own budget on extra services, shopping or other additional activities.
Many tourists travelling for business purposes will extend their stay in order to spend a few days discovering the destination. As shown in the study by the IE Foundation, 67% of business travellers state that they often take some free time when they are travelling on business and 58% will often add a day or two onto their stay to get to know the city. Others expressed their intention to return to the city with their family to spend a few days.
6. Promotion at international level
Capturing large international congresses that are attended by hundreds or thousands of delegates from all over the world puts a destination on the map; not only because of the number of travellers that visit the city, but also for the repercussion that the congress may have in the media.
Hosting congresses attracts more congresses, especially those that have the same organisational characteristics. Once a city has proved it has the ability to host certain types of congresses, fairs and events it is much easier to sell the destination and ensure that the organisers choose it.
7. More competitive destination
To be able to attract different types of tourism and not concentrate on just one segment makes a destination much more competitive against other destinations which are aimed at just one market. When external circumstances change and affect a tourist segment, and as a result the amount of tourists declines, it is much easier to compensate or reverse that situation when you are targeting various segments simultaneously and your product range is more diverse.
We are witnessing more and more destinations promoting the MICE segment as they can see a way to reduce seasonal limitations, create more jobs and compete with other more established destinations.
What we have to be very clear about is that is necessary to have a certain infrastructure available in order to be able to absorb all the activity that a congress involves, as much with regards to venues that can hold the events as to accommodation, catering and restaurants, transport and communications.
Having other cultural attractions, leisure options, gastronomy, fashion or nature is also useful for attracting this type of tourist who apart from work, also wants to discover new and interesting destinations.