The Status Quo of Chinese MICE Industry


Outbound tourism of a country shows its economic strength and purchasing capacity of its citizens. Out of this segment, Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) segments are considered to be the golden segments of tourism industry. Since it is the most lucrative and revenue generating segment of tourism industry. With China's rapid economic development and continuous improvement of internationalization, Chinese MICE tourism to foreign destinations is continuously increasing. This creates an ample opportunity for star-class hotels, agencies and other tourism service providers to grab a pie of this lucrative market segment. 


 In the first-ever assessment of China’s Meeting, Incentive, Convention & Exhibition (MICE) market, the GBTA Foundation found a total of 138.5 million domestic trips were taken for MICE purposes and 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 believe that the number of MICE meetings they will attend next year is expected to increase. .


Business travel for MICE activity comprises 42 percent of total domestic business travel volume in China and 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).


In the past 12 months, 86 percent of business travelers have taken a trip for MICE purposes in China and each business traveler spends an average of $1,100 USD (¥6,782 CNY) per trip. Chinese MICE trips last 2.9 days on average with the majority of trips (59 percent) lasting between two and four days. Most business travelers (64 percent) reach their MICE destinations by air while 18 percent travel by train and 14 percent by car. MICE meetings are typically held at conferences and convention centers (38 percent) or hotels (33 percent).


However, Chinese MICE industry is still facing up some challenges, one of which is lacking of qualified MICE staff who can fluently serve English travellers.


According to industry sources, the standard of service and hospitality catering to international travelers in most Chinese cities are not high, with the proficiency level of English – a must language for international business and leisure travel – is particularly poor. China is more interconnected with the world than ever, which makes it vital to equip employees with strong English language skills – especially in the hospitality industry. As China integrates further into the global economy, the demand for good English speakers amongst hotels and conference centers is set to grow even faster.


Additionally, current methods of training staff are ineffective and expensive, especially given the high turnover rates, which could render language tuition obsolete if that employee decides to move to another company after a few months. A three-month tenure for a waiter is the norm and many young people today have unrealistic expectations in terms of pay and job conditions. It is very hard to get them to do the job, let alone learn a new language on the side.

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