What Makes A Good MICE Destination?
The pandemic required a massive revamp of policies across industries — which led to an evolution within the hospitality industry in particular. But now that extra safety and hygiene methods are in place, hotels’ current focus is on attracting MICE to bring business customers back in.
MICE is short for Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conferences, and Exhibitions. With business travel now being worth over $750 billion annually, these bookings can be lucrative for hotel properties.
Investments to make properties more attractive for MICE travel can yield a great return as the hotel nets more of these high-value bookings.
But what designates a good MICE travel destination, and how can hotels make themselves more appealing to this customer segment?
This article breaks down how to build out your MICE travel program and earn yourself the coveted label of the MICE hotel in your market.
Setting Up In Prime Locations
When a company chooses a setting for their meetings and events, they most often opt for a place in a prime location. These spots offer convenience as well as value that employees can enjoy outside of work.
This way, the travelers enjoy a mini-vacation in addition to their business itinerary.
Typical MICE destinations have a lot of competition. They are located in busy cities that offer appeal to tourists through entertainment, culture and unique cuisine.
Savvy hotel brands take advantage of the local attractions while also standing out from their competitors with more business amenities.
What Makes A Location Prime For Business?
Business travelers and tourists may have different purposes for their trips — but business travel always comes with at least a little bit of downtime for employees to enjoy the local surroundings.
To bring in the MICE crowd, hotels pinpoint the needs of both groups.
Examples Of Prime Business Locations
Companies planning destination events look for nearby:
- International airports
- Public transportation options
- Entertainment venues
It’s not uncommon to see business meetings taking place in thriving cultural centers where guests can also engage in leisure travel, like:
- New York City
- San Diego
- Hong Kong
Offering Solutions For Each Part Of MICE
Great MICE hotels are situated in prime locations, but it takes more than finding a sweet spot in a happening city to attract corporate event planners to your venue.
To get a true feel for the criteria necessary for successful business events, you must understand the MICE industry and what these travelers’ needs are. We’ll break down the term and how it applies to the meeting industry here.
What the MICE Industry Involves
MICE stands for the four essential parts of corporate travel: Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conferences and Exhibitions. It’s essentially synonymous with other terms like events industry or meetings industry.
All of these terms refer to the massive global pie that is business travel.
In the past, corporate travel was geared solely toward productivity. Now, it’s common to take bleisure trips, combining business and leisure. Businesses offer this style of travel (or the option to extend a company-funded work trip by adding on a few personal days) to enhance employee engagement and satisfaction.
However, to appeal to corporate events planners, your property must offer all the necessities for the primary purpose of the trip — be it networking, sharing knowledge or strengthening team bonds.
Hotel conference rooms or convention centers host single-day meetings, ranging in size from small groups to large gatherings. Meeting spaces must offer room and seats for all attendees, a stage and/or podium and some type of screen or projector for visual aids.
Hotels are often expected to provide at least light refreshments and audio/visual equipment. If meetings will extend into a full day, organizers will usually book rooms so that employees have the option to stay the night. That also provides the opportunity to end a long day with a happy hour or dinner.
It’s common for some types of businesses to offer incentive trips as a reward for hard work and achieving goals. Research shows that travel incentives are among the top ways to get employees motivated, even post-COVID.
Hotels in prime MICE destinations are likely to be used as lodging for these prizes, particularly if they offer fine dining and entertainment options on top of business event accommodations.
Read our article on Using Incentive Travel to Motivate Your Team.
Like meetings but much larger, conferences are usually held over more than one day. These also come in different sizes and include various activities in their itineraries.
From keynote speeches to breakout sessions, networking events to galas, conferences typically require a lot from the host venue. Breakfast and lunch is typically provided, and sometimes dinner, too.
Team-building activities are common parts of conferences as well. Hotels with activity coordinators will be especially attractive to event planners who need to brainstorm activities that will bring the teams together.
Get Ideas For Team Building Activities here.
Exhibitions, also referred to as trade shows, can last up to a week and include hundreds of presenters and exhibitors. They are typically geared toward a specific industry — like a printing technology expo or a restaurant supplier trade show. Job fairs are another type of exhibition.
These events require a vast amount of indoor space for all of the exhibitors to set up their booths. Booths often require electricity access to power demonstrations. A registration area is also needed to check in guests and hand out passes.
When an exhibition is planned, it must be in a location that provides guests with everything they need on-site.
As you can imagine, as these MICE events get larger, they attract more guests.
This brings value to the property as guests are likely to:
- Fill up rooms at the hotel
- Order food and beverages from hotel bars and restaurants
- Shop at retailers on-site and nearby
Hotels that cater to MICE travel crowds aren’t fortune tellers, but they do need to forecast trends in business tourism consumer behavior.
By investing a portion of their hotel marketing team’s budget on data analysis, they have more knowledge to drive informed decisions and adapt as necessary.
There are two main parts involved in this data collection:
- What travelers are saying they want
- Where the market is pointing
Both of these factors are integral to forecasting trends.
Fulfilling Business Travelers’ Needs
As the industry evolves, so must hotels in order to stay relevant. To that end, it’s important to monitor the marketplace and look for anything that might give the brand a leg up over its competitors.
It’s also crucial for hotels to manage their reputations. Keeping a close eye on review platforms and what guests are saying on social media can help answer key questions like:
- What are past and current guests saying about the hotel?
- Are there any negative reviews that need to be addressed?
- Who is talking about the hotel?
- Are they planning on visiting, or have they already been there?
- Where are they located?
- What industries are these people involved in?
Getting a sense of how individual travelers feel about the hotel is very helpful, but it isn’t everything.
Watching Travel Industry Market Trends
A more analytical way to monitor trends is to use travel data regarding the hotel’s target customers.
When looking at this segment, it’s important to find answers to questions like:
- Where is your targeted business clientele going?
- What do those destinations have that your hotel or destination doesn’t?
- How can you use the forecasted market data in your favor by changing your advertising or hotel’s structure?
These datasets require planners to watch what is trending now and predict what consumers might want to see in the near future. Those trends and predictions are then used to redesign the hotel’s brand, layout and amenities to stay competitive with other MICE destinations.
While standing out with unique features is part of the path to success, long-standing MICE hotels have certain features in common. These give them the ability to overcome obstacles that the hospitality industry faces.
The most obvious challenge of recent years is the pandemic. Hotels that do well post-COVID are ones that have revamped sanitation procedures to give guests confidence in the cleanliness of where they’re staying.
Other ongoing challenges include:
- Evolving industry trends and changing markets and demand; data analysis helps, but consumer behavior is tricky to predict
- The changing methods required to attract and retain key business industries
- Shifting economic conditions and cost of travel
- Unstable ROI making it difficult for providers to plan for year-long budgeting
Hotels plan ahead so that they’re ready to handle concerns when they arise, instead of needing to figure them out when they happen. Goal-setting and tracking are the cornerstones of hotel success.
Marketing And Advertising
In order to be seen as a MICE destination, hotel managers invest a lot of resources into marketing and advertising.
Some partner with destination management companies (DMCs), getting business travel referrals through them. Others launch strategic digital marketing campaigns, then monitor their effectiveness using a team of analysts.
Regardless of how you market your hotel, the most important thing to keep in mind is that business travel coordinators, like you, want the best value for the least cost.
If you can offer them a discounted rate through platforms they’re already using, like Hotel Engine, you’re more likely to grab their attention.
Working with Hotel Engine
Hotel Engine helps connect business travelers with the hotel properties who are interested in attracting their business. Users receive great rates and a simplified experience with streamlined tools for booking and managing travel, along with a powerful dashboard.
Over 40,000 businesses already use the Hotel Engine platform, and over 10,000 individual users are joining each month to book their company travel.
Hotel Engine also offers a Project Services team that helps businesses coordinate stays for groups — such as booking rooms for a MICE event. This team can help advise customers on which hotels have the amenities needed for their event.
Finding bookings through Hotel Engine is easy for hotels and travelers. Membership on the platform saves money and effort on marketing and other outreach methods.
Hotel Engine also offers SPARC, a platform hotels can use to share detailed information with potential clients — such as descriptions of the available meeting and event spaces to help event planners find the right property to host their meeting, conference or exhibition.
As a hotel connected to the platform, you can capitalize on Hotel Engine’s established trust with its corporate clientele. Use SPARC to let event management planners know what your MICE destination offers and why they should choose you over the competition.
MICE travel destinations and event planning go hand-in-hand in the tourism industry.
With the right location, corporate amenities and marketing through Hotel Engine, your hotel can become the go-to place for successful business gatherings.
Audrey Fairbrother is the Content and SEO Manager at Hotel Engine. She spends her days writing about all things business travel, researching topics that are important to Hotel Engine’s audience and cultivating the company’s brand voice. When she’s not working, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family, and hiking in the nearby Rockies with her dog, Albie.