Accessibility and safety remain top priorities for event planners, but unique experiences add to a location’s appeal.
By Kim Benjamin, Untangled
There are many factors that determine the attractiveness of a destination to meeting and event planners, but infrastructure and accessibility are perhaps the most important, according to Nelson Khoo, event manager at CWT Meetings & Events.
“Planners generally prefer destinations that are well-connected with a good number of direct and connecting flights from various countries; that have a strong network of domestic transportation services like buses, trains, and taxis; and [that have] plenty of accommodation options to cater to various travellers’ needs and preferences,” he said.
Safety is also key. With duty of care high on the agenda for many organisations, destinations that are perceived as safe and secure tend to beat out those that are seen to be even slightly risky. In Asia Pacific, Khoo added, destinations like Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan score top marks in this area.
Anna Lim, senior events project manager at BI Worldwide, said the agency’s primary focus for destinations is access, with emphasis on flight availability and visa requirements.
“We create a point-based evaluation for each programme so our client can visualise the impact of it and these are the two top-ranked criteria on our scoring process,” she said.
When it comes to marketing a destination, Lim said that showcasing different elements for changing seasons, for example, is particularly appealing.
“I really appreciate destinations like [South] Korea or Japan, which present themselves as amazing year-round,” she said. “They show you that each season is the right time to come. Another element we love seeing is destinations like Singapore or Australia that reinvent themselves, boosting creativity and showcasing different angles to entice our guests to come back.”
Korea MICE Bureau, of the Korea Tourism Organisation, launched the Korea Unique Venue campaign in 2018, which focused on a curated collection of venues that cannot normally be accessed by the public, or which can offer an exclusive private event after hours. Venues include the National Museum of Korea and Nami Island. The effort focuses on traditional, ultramodern, and unusual venues that cannot be found anywhere else.
The campaign was delivered via a series of roadshows and at events at major industry trade shows and was supported by the dedicated section on the convention bureau website.
“These campaigns help reach out to stakeholders within Korea’s own MICE market, as well as to global event professionals, creating a coordinated offering from the destination,” said Anne Ridyard of Moulden Marketing, the appointed MICE representatives for Korea MICE. “And it really does mean you can offer VIP event venues for any size or style of event.”
Planners are also likely to look for destinations that have a lot of activities enabling delegates to immerse themselves in the local culture. Khoo said that in Singapore, for example, his agency has organised events where delegates visited some of the city’s iconic local landmarks, tried the culinary delights of a hawker centre, made their own popiah (spring roll), and even played capteh, a traditional game popular among children in Singapore.
Food can play an important part in increasing a destination’s appeal. With food options, event strategists say, you want your attendees to be able to experience local tastes and flavours, but at the same time have the comfort of knowing that there are enough venues able to cater to a range of dietary requirements such as vegetarian, halal, and gluten-free.
Khoo added that language can also tip the scales in a destination’s favour, as attendees are likely to have a better experience if they’re able to get around a particular city easily and interact with the locals.