Text by: Robert Cotter
Photo credit: IT&CMA
Peering over the lofty two-decade peaks of a MICE event that has enjoyed constant success, including 14-years as a double bill, this year’s IT&CMA and CTW, celebrating their 25th and 20th anniversaries respectively, had a lot to celebrate – and that’s precisely what they did.
Taking place from 26-28 September at the now regular venue of the Bangkok Convention Centre that is integral to the CentralWorld complex and adjoining the welcoming host Centara Hotel, this year’s event brought together the great and the good of Asia’s – and the world’s – meeting industry in a professional forum offering the finest of meeting opportunities, education sessions and networking gatherings.
“This year is a special one as we cross a significant milestone in our history,” said Darren Ng, Managing Director, TTG Asia Media Pte Ltd. “We are grateful and honoured to have our delegates witness this milestone together. We have come a very long way since IT&CMA’s inception in 1993 and CTW Asia-Pacific’s in 1998, starting this series of events when we realised that the market lacked specialisation in and around the Asia-Pacific and corporate travel market. Since then, we have propelled forward alongside the industry, benchmarked against global standards and positioned our region competitively with the trust and commitment our clients have placed in us.”
This labour of love over the decades has been bearing ripe fruit particularly in recent years, not only in having helped elevate the Asian MICE industry into a leading position globally but also in having ensured that the world’s radar is permanently tuned into it for both innovative inspiration and best practice. This has additionally helped to ensure that the business showcase at this year’s event was continuing to descend from destinations ranging all the way from Dubai to Japan and Australia to India.
Alongside the business and networking sessions involving the broad palette of more than 800 exhibitors from almost 300 exhibiting companies and organisations with the more than 400 buyers, half of whom hailed from abroad (and of these the bulk from Europe), this year’s event also offered a rich variety of education sessions – with more than 50 renowned speakers on hand to share their experience and knowledge, as well as major associations there to deliver sessions – and it was all kicked off with an important keynote address on how the next wave of growth for the region’s industry might materialise.
“The industry pendulum is swinging upstream as it becomes recognised by government for the outcomes and legacies that can be achieved from a vibrant business events sector,” said James Latham, Joint Meetings Industry Council Producer for The Iceberg and moderator of a keynote address that was relevant to the global MICE industry. “Here in Thailand, for example, you see that the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) is highly focused on bringing events to the country that will support the economic and transformational strategy of Thailand 4.0 and there are many other vertical priorities ahead of tourism when you look at these clusters.”
The Thailand 4.0 theme was a recurrent one in event discussions as the national government moves towards a value-based economy with business events being recognised as a high-value service forming part of one of the five key clusters. Falling into this category has made business events, and by extension the broader MICE industry, suitable for government funding, further aided by TCEB reporting directly to the Prime Minister rather than through an intermediary political department, both lessons that could prove helpful to European and other global destinations wishing to accelerate the growth of their own industries.
“Business events have the ability to boost the country’s other growth engines and exhibitions have been growing dramatically for Thailand,” said Khun Supawan Teerarat, Vice President, Strategic and Business Development at TCEB. “We are ranked first in South-East Asia in terms of available exhibition space and capacity as well as a number of trade shows hosted.”
Further boosting the prowess of a destination to secure increasing levels of events is, of course, an increased level of accessibility, making one of the key announcements at this year’s event of great significance for the Thai, as well as the wider European, audience.
“Being a long-standing partner of this conference THAI Airways realises that IT&CMA brings people and experts from around the world to a single place to share ideas and experiences,” said Khun Pariya Chulkaratana, Vice President, e-Commerce and Ancillary Marketing Department of Thai Airways. “At the same time, it reinforces both professionals and personal relationships among industry colleagues, while establishing deals and the groundwork for future business events that operate on longer lead times. On November 16th Thai Airways will launch the first direct flight from Bangkok to Vienna, which will be another gateway for our customers to reach a number of European cities.”
With government, CVB, national airline and signature event all in the celebratory mood, the setting was ideal for TCEB to also unveil their new marketing strategy for the coming year, consolidating all of the collaborative work taking place across the industry.
“A noteworthy event is the launch of TCEB’s new 2018 marketing communication concept, called ‘Thailand CONNECT – A Vibrant Journey of Business Success, Decoded with Chapters of Possibilities’,” said Khun Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, President of TCEB. “This initiative will reinforce Thailand’s outstanding vibrant destination, business empowerment and professional passion and a perfect mix of ‘bleisure’ journey towards business success.”
“TCEB is honoured to have hosted this event in Thailand for sixteen consecutive years,” he continued. “It shows that business travel people around the world trust our preparations and our ability to help them achieve business success in the Asia-Pacific region. Over these last sixteen years TCEB has enjoyed a strong and successful partnership with TTG Asia Media to develop and grow IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific into a flagship event that provides an extraordinary platform for MICE events and MICE business in the region. Our partnership has worked so well that we have created a must-attend event for international players in the MICE industry. More than 2,500 global participants are coming to Bangkok to develop new business opportunities, to network with major MICE players and to discover new, exciting destinations for their events.”
The lasting impression that IT&CMA and CTW have left on the Thai and wider Asian MICE industry for the past 14 years is set to continue to do so through a 3-year extension of the partnership with strategic partner TCEB that will take the event through to at least 2020. Kongres magazine looks forward to covering the future successes that are guaranteed to take place in the coming years.