The MICE sector could well be the much-needed shot in the arm for Egypt’s tourism industry. Kimidar General Manager Adel Taha talks about what MICE could mean for Egypt and what we need to compete on international levels.
By Noha Mohammed
Last month’s Economic Conference consolidated many international partnerships with industry players from different fields. Do you think this is a positive indicator for the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) sector in Egypt?
Definitely. The Egypt Economic Development Conference is obviously to pump investments and investors into Egypt.
Business visitors will come to our country to attend exhibitions, conferences and other events. They would spend large amounts of money on food, drinks, stay, transportation, venues and leisure activities. It would generate sales for businesses and it will benefit both the country — in general — and private business sectors too. The economic cycle of activities will grow and develop. So it is very important that we organize and participate in MICE events.
Whether it is the construction industry, FMCG or IT, the growth of each industry can be achieved only by participating in various events, seminars and exhibitions. Such events can help in synergizing ideas and bringing additional clients which would increase revenue. And that’s what MICE tourism exists to manage.
We have several new hotels like the JW Marriott, Dusit, Renaissance and other establishments in New Cairo doing a brisk MICE business, especially since they are strategically located close to the airport and far from the “instability” of Downtown. Do you believe we have enough facilities to accommodate the expected influx of MICE travelers or will we be needing more in the near future?
Actually, the country is rich with venues that are ready to accommodate such business events. However, we need an ongoing open-eye to develop and update our business travel capabilities in such a rapidly changing and developing world — what’s an update today becomes obsolete tomorrow.
With such fast-paced technological advancements all over the world, surely corporate travel management and planning aspects should also be equally responsive. They need to be quick and efficient enough to accommodate the budget, quality and other business or non-business aspects that the events are being focused on.
Do you think that the new capital city could take the MICE field to a completely different level in Egypt? Or do you agree with those who argue that the supply will far exceed the demand?
I’d go with the aspiration that the new administrative city will be a great add-on for MICE tourism being built on the latest sophisticated techniques and away from the buzzing downtown. I don’t agree at all with the assumption that supply will exceed the demand as Egypt — as a destination in general — has accommodated demand for business investments and tourism.
Hospitality standards (covering everything from road safety to cleanliness and harassment, etc.) in Egypt have been one of our tourism industry’s biggest problems, especially in recent years. Do you think this could stifle our MICE industry before it can transform into a gold mine for Egypt?
We must be very careful of course when talking about MICE tourism because it is the elite sector of travel management, dealing with the top niche of businessmen and corporates. Perfect arrangement is critical and expensive. So, yes it’s a gold mine but if one small thing goes wrong it turns into a nightmare and leaves unforgettable negative effects.
What needs to be done for standards to be raised to international levels so that we can compete with international MICE destinations?
MICE tourism is mainly related to planning, bookings, facilitating events, seminars and conferences. The industry deals with a number of components including planning corporate meetings, booking conference centers, food and beverage, tourism board, private tour operators, logistic firms and travel sellers. A lot of tools are involved in the MICE international industry; IT technologies, venues, conferences and meetings equipment, hotels and venue readiness and so on. We need to focus on activities related to essential things such as site selection, on-site staffing, contracts with vendors, seating management, event marketing communication, coordinating travel, managing event materials and post-event reporting.
If you are looking to organize corporate meetings within budget, you must hire professional planners. They would plan and organize meetings properly and they have essential management skills with good leadership skills to plan such events professionally. The main benefits of hiring them include stress-free planning, creative ideas, brand marketing, reservation of hotels and halls, keeping under budget and generally providing a memorable experience. The experts specializing in different types of event management are usually characterized by their blend of professionalism and creativity in addition to the production of unique concepts for events.
How do you see the role of the human factor in managing MICE tourism and to what extent can they affect the success of such critical activities?
Exactly, that’s the most crucial element of all; the human factor. Since everything is globally connected, there is certainly a need to hire a team that is a formidable international meeting planner in their approach. Such a team would have to be energetic, ingenious, elegant and the perfect international meeting planner for MICE affairs. The strategy that they would have to follow will comprise of putting together a highly capable and skilled team whose members are always ready to face challenges and responsibilities regarding the corporate management.
When it comes to the corporate world, elements like meetings, events and incentives are essential and should be organized professionally. That’s only possible with the help of an excellent management team who must have event management experience, self-motivation, strong planning, constant coordination, out-of-the-box thinking, conceptualization of unique events and continuous progress monitoring to guarantee optimal performance.
Our biggest conventions/conference destination competitor is of course Dubai. Do you think we can ever direct some of that business to Egypt, or are we too far behind?
Dubai is one of the models we are aspiring to. I don’t want to be far away from the ground. So, I must admit that we are not yet on the scale of competition with such a destination, but I really see we are not too far away from any aspiration or vision.
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