How does the MICE industry turn crisis into opportunities during the pandemic?
- Thriving in disruptions
- Helping others
- Bouncing forward
- Progressing despite contraries
One of the agendas for this year’s MICECONLINE 2020 focused on how the MICE industry turns crisis into opportunities during the pandemic.
At the beginning of the year, everyone was hopeful — it was a new year after all and there were so many opportunities that the year 2020 had for the industry. But not even 15 days have passed and the country already had felt a grim taste of what 2020 was to bring.
On January 12, the Taal Volcano erupted after more than four decades from the last recorded eruption. What followed was a series of disruptive events that just seemed to put a stop not only on the country’s MICE sector but with the global live events industry as well.
Despite all of these disruptions, the MICE industry stood still and is ready to bounce forward.
Thriving in Disruptions
The global health crisis has undoubtedly stopped many industries falling short of their tracks. For the events sector, it became impossible to do the usual activities that were done pre-pandemic.
Think about it: For event organizers, their main source of income was disrupted. These are live events. They are unable to conduct the usual planning. Any up-and-coming events had to be canceled due to the need to avoid a congregation of a large number of people in a confined space.
The halt of business events inevitably translated a domino effect on the entire MICE industry affecting all other key industry players from contractors, freight forwarders, PR managers and others. Since there are no events, exhibition spaces such as the World Trade Center Metro Manila was still top of mind for the government to use it as COVID-19 quarantine facility. Likewise, companies and organizations that were planning on staging events on the same location had to find other alternatives to conduct their events such as online venues that would garner them engagement and wider reach.
Take, for example, WTCMM’s Certificate in International Trade (CIT) Online Program. This is the first online edition of the CIT Program which is originally intended to be held in live classroom discussion. This is another opportunity to take advantage of the digital platform.
The MICE and the hospitality industries cannot allow to break in the face of any disruptions because of their resilience. There is a lot of confidence in this sector that can’t be stopped by any pandemic
One of the speakers in the webinars during MICECONLINE, Brad Weaber shared his experience of contracting COVID-19 virus during its early stages in March 2020. This experience put a stop to all of his plans for the year having so many events planned out and lined up for the year.
However, Weaber began to feel “thankful” that he had contracted the virus because, without making that trip to his dermatologist after losing his hair due to COVID-19, he wouldn’t have known that he had stage one melanoma cancer. It was, however, eventually cured to the point where he was declared cancer-free. Now he also spares his time speaking to large audiences talking about melanoma detection, treatment, and prevention.
Similar to Weaber, the MICE industry has turned towards using this time as a way of giving back to the community and helping others. Much closer to home, we’ve seen this in action with the World Trade Center Metro Manila fully overhauling its exhibition spaces to become a COVID-19 isolation facility.
The events space was primarily tapped by the government, but eventually, other private benefactors began pouring in giving financial donation and other relief goods and essentials to complete the needs of the WTC We Heal as One Center.
Various companies from different sectors like Integrated Micro-Electronics, Ayala Group of Companies, Bases Conversion Development Authority, Globe Telecom Inc., Manila Water Co. Inc., and many more, all joined hands to help build and complete the facilities.
The cancellation of conventions, exhibition shows, and trade shows paved the way to help others.
Virtual and hybrid or blended events will become the new norm and will continue to stay for as long as COVID-19 persists. In the past, while the live events sector did thrive with the traditional mode of exhibitions and conventions, there is still much left to be addressed as regards their accessibility. Some people were still geographically constrained to visit these exhibition centers.
Now, however, there is an alternative with the presence of hybrid events. As the name suggests, these events involve the combination of two different types of medium — the live shows and the virtual shows.
Singapore, for example, was also at the forefront of adapting hybrid events to make them safer for the public. A few months ago, in October, they recently shared their MICE Recovery Roadmap for 2021 — similar to what the WTCMM did to prepare for future events in a pandemic-stricken world. One of these events, the Web in Travel, came in a hybrid format, which offered a mix of both virtual attendees and live speakers — all under the protection of safety guidelines and social distancing.
Progressing Despite Contraries
There is a strong confidence that travel will eventually resume once the pandemic is truly over. In fact, the hospitality industry in the Philippines is making efforts even as early as now to address this.
Cruise ships, convention centers, restaurants, and airlines are gradually reopening to help the economy. Take the case of Boracay, where even the National Government has promoted travel to this top tourist destination amidst COVID-19 pandemic. However putting into place the proper protocols.
There is an assurance by all responsible authorities and agencies that traveling in these destinations can be done in a safe manner. The Department of Tourism (DOT) has declared that they would be partly shouldering costs that may be incurred for COVID-19 testing of Filipino tourists that are headed to Boracay (provided they’re from GCQ or MGCQ areas.)
After the resumption of domestic flights, there is an assurance that all quarantine guidelines, health and safety protocols, and other measures have been and will be strictly implemented in the hopes of boosting the tourism industry while keeping safe.
There may be an assumption that the MICE industry will never recover because of COVID-19 — but it seems that the opposite has happened. The MICE and the hospitality sectors will continue to ascend with the presence of new innovations that will adapt and make way to the ever-changing landscape of the MICE Industry in the coming days.
Understanding how the MICE industry turns crisis into opportunities during the pandemic is a realization of the industry’s resilience and adaptability to ever changing world.
Turning crisis into opportunity is the key to bouncing back. Through sharing ideas, motivating one another, and collaborating with different sectors, any industry will be able to recover and can even come up stronger than ever before.