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Road-Show Taps Into High-Growth Chinese Mice Market

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New in-roads into China's growing MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Events) market have been forged during a ground-breaking trip to China.

Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ), Air New Zealand, and Tourism New Zealand teamed up for the first MICE road-show into China last week.

CINZ chief executive Alan Trotter led a delegation of 12 New Zealand regional bureaux, venues and operators to Shanghai on October 20 to meet with 31 Chinese agents and trade partners for two days of road-show presentations and one-on-one appointments.

The event was sponsored by Air New Zealand, Tourism New Zealand and Millennium Hotel Group, and held at the Millennium Hotel Shanghai.

Mr Trotter said CINZ was forging new roads into the China MICE market, working closely with Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand.

"MICE travellers make up 39.9% of the total number of travellers from China in 2010. MICE travel is growing at 20% every year and is estimated to be five times its current size by 2020.

"The Chinese economy is continuing to boom and we recognise the huge potential of this market for New Zealand. The level of participation and uptake so far is good - many of the agents we met had already experienced New Zealand and there's a high level of interest. Now we need to take it to the next level," Mr Trotter said.

"It is crucial that we work together as a country to market our regions and create programmes to specifically suit the Chinese market. Structure is important to Chinese organisers and we can tailor-make programmes to suit them."

Mr Trotter said it was heartening to work as a cohesive team with 12 New Zealand operators in Shanghai, representing all of New Zealand.

"With support of Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand, Immigration New Zealand and our trade partners, our country is becoming a very attractive destination for Chinese MICE groups. New Zealand is viewed as a safe and secure destination with amazing attractions and activities, fascinating arts and culture, and great food and wine. It is also seen as excellent value for money,'' Mr Trotter said.

"New Zealand provides opportunities for groups of anything from 20 to 2000, supplemented by great pre and post touring options throughout the country.

"With our trade partners we have made some valuable contacts and will be able to leverage on these relationships to bring more business from China to New Zealand. We will certainly be working hard to ensure we continue to build on and maintain the relationships with these MICE agents," Mr Trotter said.

Air New Zealand has been flying Shanghai - Auckland direct three times per week since 2006, and Beijing - Auckland twice per week since 2008. It also has daily direct flights from Hong Kong. The airline offers special services for MICE groups including arrival card preparation and special check-in facilities for groups. On board 80 per cent of the crew are Chinese.

Jessica Yip, Air New Zealand's regional marketing manager, North Asia, said the airline was working on increasing capacity on these routes to match increasing demand.

Ike Zhang, executive general manager of Shanghai CITS MICE, the state-owned operator which has been partnered with American Express since the 1980s, said New Zealand was highly attractive to the MICE incentive China market. CITS merged it corporate and MICE business units in China this year and CITS International MICE is now headquartered in Beijing.

Mr Zhang said the main driver for Chinese MICE decision makers was cost (18.7%), followed by safety (17.5%), transport (17.5%) and visa convenience (12.5%).

"China as a destination for MICE activities is currently underdeveloped and faces a number of challenges locally, making it more attractive for MICE to go overseas. Overseas MICE activity is mainly meeting related (38.5%) and incentive groups (34.6%).

"Australia and New Zealand together make up only 13.6% of the destinations and there is much room to grow. The key users are corporates, followed by government officials and academic/research groups, mainly from the huge pharmaceutical industry based out of China," Mr Zhang said.

New Zealand's Immigration Consul, Jeannie Melville, based in Shanghai said Immigration NZ was working very closely with Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand and agents on ways of simplifying its visa application process as it recognised that the MICE market was a valuable part of the tourism industry out of China.

"Recently we provided visas for 500 employees from IBM China and it was a very efficient process,'' Ms Melville said.

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