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Mice Asia Net : January 2009
news “state of play” the remains in the finance sector. In late 2008 the situation was further exacerbated in Thailand and India where political unrest in Bangkok and terrorism attacks in Mumbai caused grounding of aircraft and depleting tourism numbers. According to Hong Kong’s managing director of MCI/eventclicks, Claire Saunders, her company had been feeling the effects of the economic slowdown at the end of 2008, particularly as around 60 per cent of their business comes from the Hong Kong finance sector. “However, the story is not all negative. Firstly, some projects (particularly client events) are postponed to March / April  rather than [being] fully cancelled,” she said. “Secondly, for those events that were not fully confirmed prior to the crisis, the planning of the event is now simply ‘on hold’, on a ‘wait and see’ basis. After all, even the banking community still has a message to convey to its client base - that despite the financial crisis, some job cuts and pay cuts, they are very much still open for business and keen to engage and communicate with their valued clients. “For internal events, those that have not been cancelled or put on hold are proceeding with a reduced budget. There is definitely a cutback on expensive entertainment options and a move towards utilising the entertainment skills of the MCs, engaging delegates in participatory activities (ie: making internal teams the ‘stars’ of the show!) and requesting more cost effective, though equally creative, themeing and décor. “Lead times are getting even shorter – a trend which I think we can expect to [see] continue well into 2009. However, whilst an overall contraction of the market is inevitable, recent discussions with clients indicate that the upwards trend of adoption of events as key elements of their marketing plan is set to continue.” Vice president of Corporate Tours Andheri, Arun Hattangadi, based in Mumbai, told miceASIA.net magazine that business had certainly softened. “The economic situation has created a lot of uncertainty in the mind of corporates and individuals and wait and watch is the byword as of now among some, if not all,” he said. in asia T story by Brad Foster Many are predicting a softening of Mice business in 2009 due to the global credit crunch. he global credit crunch has already resulted in some companies postponing or delaying conference or incentive travel – a trend that looks set to continue while uncertainty He says many companies are postponing events in anticipation of better rates in 2009. In India the situation worsened in November when terrorists attacked Mumbai hotels, cinemas and police stations. The iconic Taj Mahal hotel in the city was severely damaged. More than 170 people were killed and close to 1000 injured in the attacks. The attacks devastated the pre-Christmas and Christmas tourism trade, and could do long-term damage to the country’s growing convention and incentive travel market. According to an International Congress & Convention Association survey in September 2008 8.5 per cent of respondents indicated they had suffered a significant downturn in business because of the global financial crisis. Almost 80 per cent of those surveyed expect a negative impact on their business this year (20 per cent reported a “significant impact” and 58 per cent a “slight impact”). However, almost 70 per cent of ICCA members answered “no” when asked if they are planning to make cuts in their 2009 marketing budgets compared to 2008 and almost 78 per cent do not expect they have to make any staff cuts in 2009. More than 60 per cent of ICCA members surveyed expect a significant negative global impact on the international meetings industry. Just over half of the respondents said there will be significant short-term negative global impact up to 18 months, and 11 per cent expected a significant negative global impact for more than 18 months. Responding to the survey, ICCA CEO, Martin Sirk said clearly there was a great deal of concern for economic prospects in 2009 and beyond. “What is also clear from anecdotal discussions with our members is that international association meetings are expected to be the most resilient meetings industry sector, whilst corporate meetings are expected to be worst affected.” While this may be so it is anticipated that there will be a significant drop in delegate numbers attending planned association congresses during 2009. ABOVE: Taj Mahal, India. Terrorist attacks in Mumbai in late 2008 have exacerbated the global economic slowdown. 6 miceAsia.net