Andy McNeill, CEO of American Meetings, Inc. was a recent guest on the Tourism Entrepreneur Podcast, where he shared his knowledge and expertise on the state and future of the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) industry and tips for success. The following article is a Q&A derived from the podcast.
Q: What is the current state of the MICE industry?
A: There is no doubt the MICE industry was hit hard in the last 18-months. But, through adversity comes opportunity, and the shining star has been the solidification of hybrid meetings in the global meeting and events industry. Because of this, the MICE industry is poised to come back roaring, releasing the pent-up demand for business travel. Corporations discovered the true potential and power of virtual meeting technologies this last year, and many of them also saw the cost savings and positive environmental impact. However, they also know the personal value of face-to-face meetings, visiting amazing venues, and the power of incentive trips. This means hybrid events are here to stay.
Q: What tips and tools can you suggest for hosting hybrid meetings?
A: With the win-win experience of hybrid meetings, managing these effectively will be key in the coming years. Using the right tools is paramount. This past year’s huge demand for this technology initiated a giant leap forward in capabilities, accessibility, and security.
Suppliers who offer support around streaming capabilities, online technical support, virtual speaker and presentation management, online registration, virtual attendee experience, engagement analytics, and production are in high demand. Today’s technological capabilities provide the opportunity to deliver high-quality live, virtual meetings that rival in-person—including keynote and large general sessions for trade shows, breakout sessions, team collaboration, and classroom training rooms. Broadcast-quality production is possible over the internet and is more accessible than ever.
Q: How can destinations and venues stand out?
A: Destinations and venues still serve an important purpose to provide experiences that can only be properly expressed in person. In order to stand out, many venues are turning to creative solutions, such as amazing design, state-of-the-art technology, and sustainability measures to attract audiences. Some are using incentive gifts as a way to attract groups, whether offered onsite or as gift certificates for future use. Promoting venues as the perfect place to hold charitable trips is another great idea to bring people together to support community and environmental efforts and provide a way for guests to give back.
It’s important that the right people know the special things you are doing to create exceptional experiences. This means seeking out groups of like-minded professionals where you can share ideas and have access to potential buyers in the space. The American Meetings Network is an organization that brings the MICE suppliers together to network, generate new ideas, and connect companies with planners and sourcing managers with millions in meeting spend.
Q: What is the future of the MICE industry?
A: The pandemic has shown us the environmental value of reducing our carbon footprint. Corporations reaped the benefits of reduced costs and emissions by holding virtual events. This calls out the importance of sustainability.
Sustainability must be our focus moving forward. We’re all in this together—work with partners who stand with you to reduce waste and are making a concerted effort to provide “greener” solutions. So many great ideas have already been generated, with venues and event services suppliers working together on food donation efforts and providing products and services that support the community. Hybrid meetings have played a major role in supporting the “green” meeting movement, and this is the main reason why they have become so popular.
Q: What encouragement can you provide to those in global travel?
A: Many travel agencies are struggling right now, but it isn’t the first, nor will it be the last downturn the industry will face. Within the last 20 years alone, we have endured 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 recession, and now COVID. This industry continues to rebound. The best advice I can give is this: hang in there, control expenses, and keep your passion for the hospitality business.
At AMI, we are seeing business returning to a more ‘normal’ cadence. However, ‘normal’ is looking a little different these days. To all in the MICE industry, stay positive, build a strong network, be willing to make shifts when you need to, and things will get brighter.
Listen to the expert guest interview of American Meetings, Inc. CEO, Andy McNeill on the “Tourism Entrepreneur Podcast”. Listen now.