Challenges and Opportunities that China’s Event Industry is Facing


The event industry, also known as MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) has been developing dramatically in China in recent years, despite the fact that global economy was experiencing an obvious slowdown.


In 2013, 340 meetings took place in China, making it 8th largest meeting destination in the world. The 2014 China MICE Buyers Report found that the majority of Chinese event planners anticipate planning more meetings in the coming year, although these meetings are likely to be shorter and more cost-efficient in response to the Chinese government’s efficiency measures. Tier 2 and tier 3 Chinese cities such as Chengdu, Wuhan and Tianjin are building convention centers, hotels and other venues to keep up with growing domestic and international demand for meetings in China.


The event industry has also been forecasted to have a $100 billion market scale with 6.3 million rooms and reach 8 rooms per 1,000 capita by 2023.


Still, there are many challenges in China’s event industry. First of all, China's events industry struggles with Chinese government cutbacks from 2013. The fact of China's efforts to curb spending had resulted in hotels sacrificing stars from their ratings in order to attract business ever since local governments began to prohibit officials from spending public funds at five-star hotels a year ago. As of late January in 2014, 56 Chinese hotels had reportedly sought to lower their star ratings. Second, rapid development and urbanization make it difficult to invest in services that may not return an immediate profit. Third, there are cultural practices and attitudes that work against the idea of reduction and reuse. Last, there are infrastructure limitations that make it difficult to follow sustainable best practices – for instance, limited recycling and composting opportunities.


A challenge always emerges with an opportunity. While local governments are still among the top four movers in China's MICE market, it was said that the percentage spent by institutions and governments is falling in line with central government regulations. At the same time, the number of events organized by businesses increased from 49.9 percent in 2010 to 59.7 percent in 2012. The long-term effects of these trends remain to be seen, but the crackdown on spending may have some benefits for private industry. With venues actively seeking events, private businesses may be able to boost their event spending and bring in more buyers and suppliers. International associations may also profit from increased availability and lower pricing.


Besides, corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability are a growing movement in hospitality in general and events in particular. Compared to North America and Europe, “Green MICE” is still in the beginning stage in China, although government policies are supportive of the trend. Only about 6% of Chinese venue managers and buyers report that a facility’s sustainability policies are a top priority when deciding where to hold a meeting or event. However, the sustainability strategies are crucial because currently global event market stakeholders are caring about this. The future opportunities for China’s MICE industry will be brought by the benefits of Green MICE in terms of reduced costs in the form of efficiency, waste reduction, productivity gains, risk mitigation and higher employee retention. Organizations can also grow their status in the marketplace through enhanced reputation; ability to differentiate their offers; and better respond to customer requests and requirements. 


China’s event industry is relatively young and is still growing. China has an opportunity to take a leadership role in green MICE by making more efforts responsibly from the start and by picking up best practices from other business around the world.

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