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December 21, 2008

Survey predicts bright future for meetings and events in Asia

There is a very positive outlook for both the domestic and international meetings markets in China and Asia, according to recent research.

The second China and Pan-Asian study into the China and Asia Meetings Industry, conducted by the organisers of CIBTM, Reed Travel Exhibitions, and independently analysed by The Right Solution Limited, was undertaken in August 2008, during the Olympic Games in Beijing. Although the supplier and buyer research has been release at a time when the crisis in the global financial markets is pushing many of the world’s leading economies into recession, this research reflects the fact that Asian countries are showing a healthier picture.

Buyer research summary
Of the 650 buyer respondents to the survey, 88% were based in 12 countries, with 70% based in Asia and 56% specifically from China.

Many Asian countries, in particular China and India, are investing heavily in conference and event facilities, with 28 exhibition centre developments in Asia underway. Similarly, the region is generating significant demand for meetings space, both within its own countries and elsewhere in the world. There are estimated to be 70,000 associations within India alone.

China, Hong Kong and Macau came joint third of the Asian countries ranked in the top 40 destinations in the world, seeing 255 international association meetings during 2007 in their countries. The total meetings held in the continent (2,052) has risen to 20% of the international association meetings held worldwide in 2007, compared to 15% during 2006.

Respondents to the survey showed that the greatest percentage (over 22%) of buyers represented industries within the IT/telecom/electronic sector, followed by pharmaceuticals/medical and then financial and manufacturing. 

Similarly, Beijing and Shanghai were rated top of the 12 destinations worldwide by buyers as the places where events were held in 2007. Shanghai, which came second in the table, tied at 30% of respondents with Western and Northern Europe, while Beijing was chosen by 40% of all buyers.

Mainland China secured 428 events during 2007. Beijing came top with Shanghai in second place and Guangdong in third. In the Far East (excluding China), respondents showed that they placed 189 events with Hong Kong, which took the lion’s share, followed by Japan and Macau. In South Asia, 117 events were placed with the top destination India, while in South East Asia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia were the top four locations. The rest of the world secured 350 events with the majority going to Western and Northern Europe.

The research also showed that mainland China had the largest number of attendees at events held during 2007. With the mean number of 146 for the rest of the world, China had an average of 156 and the Far East 143, followed by South Asia at 139 and South East Asia at 148.

Some 40% of buyers predicted that the number of events held in China will increase in the next 12 months, with influencing factors showing that cost was still the number one consideration predicted by 74% of buyers. Location remained in second place (71%), but quality of accommodation, which was ranked fifth in 2007, moved up to be the third most important factor (67%). Quality of service, security and safety were also ranked highly. 

Suppliers research summary
More than 60% of supplier responses were based in China, although respondents represented 27 countries in total, with 77% based across Asia, including mainland China. Respondents comprised representatives from hotels, (18%), destinations (14%), and event management and support services (15% jointly). Of the total, 70% had clients in mainland China, with 68% of their clients representing the corporate sector, financial services/insurance/IT/telecoms, pharmaceutical and automotive sectors.

The mean value of business for China is US$ 2.1 million, showing that over half the respondents say 20% of their business actually takes place in the country.  Some 69% expect the number of events they host in China/Asia to increase in the next 12 months and 22% predict the number will stay the same.

The average duration of events hosted is 3.3 days and the average size of meetings is 165 attendees, while 75% of respondents were hosting events for less than 250 attendees.

When asked to provide their views on the factors influencing the placement of their events, respondents show that their priorities remain very similar to last year, although quality of service is a lower priority indicating that some improvements may have been experienced.  The top factors were:
1.  Location
2.  Cost
3.  Quality of meeting facilities (up from fifth last year)
4.  Quality of accommodation

The time of year for a meeting was the least important factor and close behind was security and safety.

Some 91% of suppliers stated that they were interested in developing new business from mainland China and 87% of suppliers revealed that they are looking to place business elsewhere in Asia. Meanwhile, 86% were keen to develop new business within the corporate sector, 69% with third-party agencies and 29% with the not-for-profit sector.

Commenting on the findings, Paul Kennedy, group exhibition director, Meetings & Incentive Events, Reed Travel Exhibitions, said: “Our research continues to play an important role in the gathering of data, which does not exist elsewhere.  This work supports the core brand values of our global portfolio of meeting events, that requires us to be at the fore front of providing this industry sector with ongoing statistical information and knowledge.

“There is no better time to demonstrate the economic importance of the meetings industry generated by those involved in the business of organising/planning of meetings, those in the supply chain, such as hotels, venues, DMCs and those in a representative capacity, such as convention bureaus or city, regional and national tourist boards. 

“This report demonstrates that the meetings business in China and Asia is growing and the predicted increase in outbound meetings from China is proven. Beijing is placed as the number one destination for new business for the second successive year, demonstrating its growing reputation for holding meetings.”

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