It is little wonder that Asia has attracted increasing attention from the international business community when you consider the growth opportunities and relatively strong economies in the region.
As more businesses focus on Asia, this presents valuable opportunities for the business travel and meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (BTMICE) industry.
And it is this growth that is driving demand for relevant business events that enable business travellers to gain new knowledge, forge valuable contacts and networks as well as to understand and to tap on the opportunities in Asia.
Research is certainly backing the fundamentals of this developing trend. According to the 2013 American Express/CFO Research Global Business & Spending Monitor, the majority of chief financial officers (CFOs) in Asia are expecting to increase their spending on business travel over the next year.
The report also noted that one of the key drivers of business travel is to “meet with current and prospective customers”, with 52% of the CFOs in Asia and Australia likely to spend more on travelling year-on-year to meet customers.
In particular, the potential of business travel in China cannot be ignored. According to the inaugural Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) BTITM Outlook – China, business travel spending in China is forecasted to increase by 21% in 2013, to US $245 billion.
The report noted that while China is currently ranked second in the business travel market, it is forecast to surpass the US by as early as 2015.
For Singapore, the BTMICE sector is a key contributor of tourism receipts. From January to September 2012, BTMICE visitor arrivals stood at 2.5 million, representing a 6% year-on-year growth. Expenditure by these business visitors rose 7% year-on-year to an estimated S $4.29 billion.
On average, business visitors contribute a third of Singapore’s overall visitor arrivals and tourism receipts. They also spend more. Singapore Tourism Board’s data shows that the per capita expenditure of a business visitor is almost twice that of a leisure tourist.
Delivering greater value to business travellers
Despite the uptrend in overall business travel, purse strings are still being pulled fairly tight as organisations become increasingly cautious with their travel spending.
Business travellers have to justify their trips and are seeking greater value from their investments.
Executive director of travel tradeshow ITB Asia, Nino Gruettke, says corporate travellers have become more demanding over the past decade, “looking for hotels and service providers that offer more than just basic amenities”.
“Today’s business travellers are well-travelled, discerning and savvy, looking for a holistic experience,” he continues.
“They are in search of a seamless, effortless and enjoyable travel experience, not just a room for the night or a way to get from point A to B.”
To increase the value for today’s business traveller, ITB Asia has been adding new conference content each year aimed at enhancing attendees’ understanding of the changing corporate travel segment.
The array of conference and event topics surrounding each year’s show addresses the trends and needs of the fast-growing travel industry and provides participants with much- needed insights and business knowledge to better anticipate today’s travellers’ needs.
Beyond content, the BTMICE industry also needs to continuously innovate to provide enhanced experiences for delegates to keep pace with their rising expectations and evolving needs.
For example, the growing demand for space to stage conferences alongside exhibitions or ‘Confex’ events, has led to the development of a new convention wing MAX Atria @ Singapore EXPO. The convention wing can be configured for a variety of purposes, including meetings, exhibitions, product launches and banquets.
Director, Exhibitions and Conferences of Singapore Tourism Board, Andrew Phua, asserts that business travellers are becoming more sophisticated and the industry “will need to progress to a higher level to deliver more value to our international partners”.
“Decisions are no longer made based just on superior meeting infrastructure and service, but an entire value proposition surrounding intellectual property and in-depth content,” he says.
“Together with the industry, we will continue to collaborate and strengthen Singapore’s position as a knowledge exchange hub and create differentiated experiences that will meet the ever-evolving needs of global business professionals.”
Driving cross-event synergies
As event attendees are looking to optimise their business trips for greater returns, they have also become more selective towards the types of events they attend.
There is a definite preference for quality events that enrich their perspectives and lead to productive outcomes.
One way to deliver greater value to event attendees is to cluster complementary events around flagship shows, thereby driving cross- event synergies in ‘industry focus’ weeks.
Such an approach also allows time-strapped delegates to optimise their business trips and maximise opportunities across the different events within the same eco-system.
One example of an ‘industry focus’ week is TravelRave, created by the Singapore Tourism Board. Held annually in October, the travel trade festival provides a unique platform for thought leaders in the travel and tourism industry to come together, exchange insights and explore opportunities offered by the growth of tourism in Asia.
Into its fourth edition this year, TravelRave has grown to become Asia’s most influential travel trade festival. Last year’s festival concluded with a record 10,700 attendees (representing a 12% increase over 2011), from the entire spectrum of the Asian travel and tourism industry to network, exchange knowledge and share experiences over eight events.
TravelRave 2013 returns from 21 to 25 October with new content on top of insightful discussions that have become an integral part of the travel trade festival and will continue to harness collective Asian insights from the industry’s top leaders.
For Messe Berlin (Singapore), the organiser of ITB Asia, the launch of TravelRave has contributed to the growth of the show.
The clamour for exhibitor space highlights the importance of the show – it was completely sold out four months ahead of the event.
Gruettke says part of the success is the convergence of travel trade events and conferences in Singapore offering exhibitors “unique and valuable synergies”.
“It helps to draw together a wide range of high- level delegates and participants from all around the world, making ITB Asia a strategic gateway for the global travel trade to reach out to this region,” he adds.
Delegates can also look forward to enjoying themselves at complementary networking sessions. For instance, TravelRave’s cross- event networking event, Rave On! TravelRave Party, which will take place on 23 October, aims to bring the industry closer to forging more contacts and facilitating exchanges in an informal setting.
TravelRave attendee Marc Steinmeyer, president director and founder of TAUZIA Hotel Management, says as a platform that amalgamates the best of Asia’s travel and tourism industry in a single week, “TravelRave provides invaluable opportunities for me to meet and network with industry leaders across different sectors of the travel value chain”.
TravelRave: Unlocking invaluable opportunities and insight
TravelRave comprises multiple complementary events that cut across the travel and tourism industry, from hospitality and tourism investment (Asia Pacific Tourism Destination Investment Conference) to aviation (Aviation Out- look Asia) and technology (Web In Travel).
For delegates keen to find out the latest trends on business travel, ITB Asia’s GBTA Business Travel Forum segment delve into the latest economic forecasts on business travel spend in the region and provide new insights and ideas that will help business travel professionals to success- fully plan for the future.
Similarly, during the Asia Pacific Tourism Destination Investment Conference, Arun Madhok, CEO, Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre and Datuk Peter Brokenshire, general manager, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, will be speaking on the topic of investment outlook for MICE destinations in Asia. To meet the need for new and Asian-focus insights for the association community, UIA is also launching its inaugural Asian edition of UIA Associations Roundtable 2013 in Singapore.
These are just five of the events in an exciting line up of eight quality events under the TravelRave umbrella.TravelRave will take place from 21 to 25 October 2013 providing a dynamic platform for business leaders and industry professionals to share knowledge and insights, explore business opportunities, and celebrate Asian tourism at its best.
Find out more
Get connected with the best travel minds ahead of TravelRave 2013, the most influential travel trade festival in Asia. Follow us @TravelRaveSG or visit www.travelrave.sg for the latest industry updates.