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Trends that will shape the MICE industry in 2019

Forget run of the mill MICE events in 2019, where delegates are limited to the confines of an exhibition centre or auditorium. Along with new trends, technology is set to shape the industry even further in the new year.

“We live in exciting times, and the MICE industry is no different,” says Stephanie Von Allman, General Manager of Mozambique-based Dana Tours.

“Access to new technology and a desire for more meaningful MICE experiences is a deciding factor concerning the event destination and even culinary offering. There is so much happening in the MICE space,” she adds.

Dana Tours spotlights leading trends buyers and planners can look forward to in 2019.

New technology

The pace of change in the tech space is accelerating, says Von Allman, with thousands of ideas, Apps and innovations being developed to assist meeting planners, exhibitors, venues and even meeting participants.

To stay ahead of the game, players need to embrace cutting-edge developments.

“According to a survey carried out by Meeting Professionals International (MPI), a US-based global meeting and event planning association found that event planners were focusing on personalising user experiences through technology and data collection. MICE destinations that possess well-developed ecosystems for ICT innovation are poised to benefit,” Von Allman adds.

From a management perspective, organisers can use these solutions to track anything, from delegate movements to overall participation and sentiment. 

“Mozambique is home to world-famous resorts and hotels, which pride themselves in staying abreast of the latest developments. This makes it an ideal MICE destination, as you get the conferencing facilities with all the technology you require, but in a vacation setting, which brings us to yet another trend emerging in the MICE industry,” Von Allman reveals.

Mixing business and pleasure

While the bleisure concept is not new, MICE travel is no longer restricted to meetings and events.

“More and more companies are now requesting MICE operators to plan for the meetings in locations where employees can have a short vacation with their family… Destinations that offer unique experiences, adventure, entertainment, good cuisines and cultural experiences top the list,” she believes.

Dana Tours says demand for bleisure packages is driving business to Mozambique and South Africa, and combination itineraries are also popular.

“Besides being easily accessible, Mozambique is the ultimate vacation destination, combining untouched beaches (over 2,500kms of coastline), safaris in remote locations such as the Gorongosa National Park, and cultural experiences, all offered on the sidelines of professionally run MICE events.”

Bon appetite

The same-old rubber chicken and so-so hors d’oeuvres won’t do in 2019, says Von Allman.

“While some visitors might prefer to get to know a destination by its sights and sounds, others, and especially younger generations, prefer a culinary experience, which is why destination-specific food is such a big trend. It is time to give delegates an experience they won’t have anywhere else.”

Consider hiring a native restaurateur to serve up lunch or dinner featuring the destination’s famous foods, Von Allman suggests. “Keep in mind that healthy menus are in and, for an added special touch, forgo the boring buffet and offer interactive cooking classes by local chefs,” she recommends.

Safety and security

There is an emphasis on added security worldwide, as countries work to be perceived as a safe option for organisers of large-scale international conferences and exhibitions. This includes risks related to violence and terrorism, cybersecurity, as well as natural dangers and extreme weather.

“While it will always be difficult to create a zero-risk environment, the perception of a safe and secure location has become a crucial necessity for MICE destinations,” says Von Allmen.

Mozambique remains “a safe destination to travel to” she adds, commenting that, despite some tension in the north of the country in  recent months, “MICE organisers and delegates can rest assured that all establishments, throughout the country, put a high emphasis on the security and comfort of visitors”. 

Source: Angie Martin, Big Ambitions