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Asian MICE Industry Lacks Professionalism

A greater level of professionalism is needed in the Asia Pacific MICE industry, a new study has found.

LRA Worldwide Inc has released the results of its 2012 MICE Performance Indicator (MPI) study, which assessed the effectiveness of MICE sales staff in 10 key markets across the Asia Pacific region.

The results showed considerable variations in the levels of service quality event organisers can expect from hotels in Asia Pacific. Overall, the audit found that only 28% of hotels surveyed were compliant to industry standards, in terms of dealing with event enquiries.

LRA sent event proposal requests to 51 hotels in 10 Asian cities. Six, or 11%, of the hotels simply did not respond. Of the 45 hotels that did respond, 35 (78%) did not attempt to personally contact the client to learn more of the event, while almost 60% sent generic factsheets and pricing information, with no mention of the specific event details.

While all of the markets involved in the study scored poorly, there was a significant difference in performance between the best and worst cities. Hotels in Hong Kong scored the highest, with 47.6% meeting industry standards, ahead of Ho Chi Minh City (37.6%) and Singapore (33.3%). At the other end of the scale, hotels in Bangkok performed worst (19.6), along with Beijing (21.1%) and Guangzhou (21.4%).

“The results are certainly eye-opening, but not totally surprising given the challenges that sales managers in the region face in building and cultivating a professional sales staff,” said Ben Flournoy, LRA’s Vice President for Asia Pacific. “But the increased emphasis of MICE business as a revenue source for hotels in the region and the pending influx of product in the development pipeline will punish those properties who continue to leave revenue on the table.”

One aspect noted by LRA was the lack of a “personal touch”, with 75% of the initial responses being handled by email – a fact LRA claimed limited “the sales associate’s ability to qualify the lead, understand the needs of the client and personalise the interaction and proposal."

“The overall trend in the hotel industry, especially in the luxury and upscale markets, is towards seeking every opportunity to make a personal connection with the guest,” Flournoy said. “This mindset has not effectively spread to the sales operations at many hotels.”

The study, conducted out of LRA’s Singapore office, made enquiries into each hotel via three channels – phone, email and online.