New technologies have been transforming the travel industry. Which technological trends will be impacting the MICE industry this year?
Anke Ebinger: Gone are the days, when venues only needed to provide an overhead projector. Now, venues not only need to provide high speed internet connection, but also virtual assistants. Technologies, like virtual reality, artificial intelligence, etc., will affect the travel experience. Virtual and augmented reality, web casting, live streaming and video conferencing are not considered luxury, they will become increasingly important. It is essential for venues to stay updated with these trends in order to stay at the top of the game.
Ganessan Suppiah: We also see that apps become key features of events. Event apps provide easier registration and offer a conversation both before and after the event. Simplify is the buzzword for 2018. Everyone in the MICE industry will ensure that the guest's journey is easy and efficient. It is not all about AR and AI, this year will also be about enhancing the human elements of events. Technology will help to personalize experiences; it won't replace the human interaction, but will enhance it. At WorldHotels, we expect an increase in virtual attendance at events. Therefore, venues need to provide opportunities for online attendance and intervention, so people inside and outside the venue can participate. 360-degree images and virtual reality on Youtube, Facebook and Periscope will become important for event promotion this year.
Anke Ebinger: An important topic this year will be the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), that comes into force this month. It will come with a lot of challenges but also opportunities to improve data quality and transparency.
Ganessan Suppiah: There is an increase in business coming to the countryside. A lot of organizers look for venues that provide tranquil settings. Go local is another trend, that we can see. People are looking for authentic relationship and behind-the-scenes experiences with local experts. They want to actively participate in the communities they visit.
What do MICE venues need to offer in order to be successful this year?
Anke Ebinger: Standard conference halls and regular buffet food are no longer sufficient to please and satisfy our clients. Unique experiences count. Spa treatments, team building, cocktail courses, venues need to offer fun activities alongside the serious business focus. For the younger generations, work is life and life is work. Therefore, meetings should not be dull, but provide offerings activities and meeting spaces to lure the guests. Venues that provide exciting new experiences will have the most ROI.
Ganessan Suppiah: We see that demand has clearly shifted from traditional venues to more personalized places. Events need to be more experiential. Organizers want tailor-made experiences with a unique flavor. Flexible meeting spaces are near the top of every participants' wish list. Venues need more than just to provide a space for an event, they need to create the overall personalized experience for the client. People do not want a cookie-cutter approach, they value individuality. Therefore, flexibility is a must these days to organize the event to specific requests.
What about the expectations from the younger generations. Do they differ?
Ganessan Suppiah: Organizers need to create more interaction and involvement from the audience. Younger generations do not fancy traditional speakers anymore. Interactive elements are critical; people prefer engagement to instruction. Activities, greater collaboration among people and information exchange sessions will become more important this year.
Anke Ebinger: Generation Y and Z are more conscious of wellbeing and health; therefore, wellness will become a much higher priority. Fresh and healthy food instead of biscuits and cakes, strong emphasis on brain food, this is a trend which we experience already. Catering will also no longer be only a facility to be provided at a venue, but it will be something to impress the guests. Boring food sets an overall boring tone to an event. Organizers expect the latest innovations in food and we expect to see this trend develop and become more creative. More and novel concepts will delight guests this year. Food needs to be Instagram-worthy.
A veteran of the hospitality industry for over 30 years, Ganessan Suppiah has served WorldHotels for over 11 years and was recently promoted to Regional Vice President of Sales - Asia Pacific. Suppiah has been a driving force of the Sales department when he first started off as the Director of Sales for Australia and New Zealand in 2007, before moving to the United Kingdom for his new role as Regional Director of Sales for the UK, Ireland, Nordic and Russia in 2016. In his current role, Suppiah leads all sales strategies and initiatives in the region, out of his base in Sydney, Australia.
Anke Ebinger joined WorldHotels in 2000 as Key Account Manager Central Europe. In her current role as Regional Director of Sales Central Europe, she is leading the Worldhotels Sales Force for Germany, Austria & Switzerland. By building long-lasting relationships and networking with corporate clients, Consortia partners and MICE buyers and implementing marketing strategies, organizing custom-tailored activities, analyzing trends and results they ensure driving revenue to 350 Worldhotels members worldwide.
Newly relaunched, the WorldHotels™ Collection delivers proven soft brand solutions for a curated global offering of over 350 of the finest independent hotels and resorts. Founded by hoteliers dedicated to the art of hospitality, only WorldHotels curates the best independent properties around the globe, each reflective of the locale by offering intuitive service, and a refined sense of character. WorldHotels' proprietary 'Start With Why' philosophy helps each hotel identify their unique set of assets that distinguish and elevate their guest experience and revenue generation performance from the competition. Geared to both business and leisure travelers, the WorldHotels Collection is classified into three tiers allowing guests to select the offering that meets their needs: WorldHotels Luxury, WorldHotels Elite and WorldHotels Distinctive.
Newly relaunched, the WorldHotels™ Collection delivers proven soft brand solutions for a curated global offering of over 300 of the finest independent hotels and resorts. Founded by hoteliers dedicated to the art of hospitality, only WorldHotels curates the best independent properties around the globe, each reflective of the locale by offering intuitive service, and a refined sense of character. WorldHotels' proprietary 'Start with WHY' philosophy helps each hotel identify their unique set of assets that distinguish and elevate their guest experience and revenue generation performance from the competition. Geared to both business and leisure travelers, the WorldHotels Collection is classified into three tiers allowing guests to select the offering that meets their needs: WorldHotels Luxury, WorldHotels Elite and WorldHotels Distinctive.