Growth and Trend of China's MICE Industry


In the first-ever assessment of China’s Meeting, Incentive, Convention, & Exhibition (MICE) market, the GBTA Foundation found that a total of 138.5 million domestic trips were taken for MICE purposes; MICE business travelers spent a total of $110 billion USD (¥680 billion CNY) during those trips in 2014.

Nearly one-third (29 percent) of Chinese business travelers expect that the number of MICE meetings they will attend is going to increase over the next year.

Business travel for MICE activity comprises 42 percent of total domestic business travel volume in China and accounts for 45 percent of total business travel spending. Shanghai (27 percent) and Beijing (25 percent) hosted the majority of MICE trips in China over the last 12 months, followed by Guangzhou (24 percent), Hong Kong (11 percent) and Macau (6 percent).

These figures explain why major international hotel chains in China, despite the country’s economic slowdown, are ramping up expansion plans to cater to the growing Chinese MICE demand. Many hotel developments include a mega exhibition and convention center attached, coupled with CSR considerations.

Estimates are that by 2023, China’s hotel industry will become a $100 billion industry with 6.3 million rooms and reach 8 rooms per 1,000 capita (approximately on par with the U.K.). Under the context of the hospitality industry, the conference and event sector is a rising star, which is estimated to be growing at a rate of 20% annually. The 2014 China MICE Buyers Report found that the majority of Chinese event planners anticipate there would be 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.

However, there are many barriers to have a sustainable MICE market in China. First of all, rapid development and urbanization make it difficult to invest in services that may not return an immediate profit. Second, there are cultural practices and attitudes that work against the idea of reduction and reuse. Third, there are infrastructure limitations that make it difficult to follow sustainable best practices – for instance, limited recycling and composting opportunities. However, because the hospitality industry is relatively young and growing, China has an opportunity to take a leadership role in green MICE by building and operating more responsibly from the start and by picking up best practices from other countries around the world.

As a result of the growth of China’s MICE industry, there is an increasing need for professionals with training and skills in business travel and events. In the 2014 CIBTM Venue Trends survey, nearly 80% of venue managers reported that they would be making a greater investment in staff training, especially in the areas of event services and sales, in order to better compete for holding meetings and get more event revenue.

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