Decision-making in MICE tourism has traditionally been (and still is) based on human relationships. Strong bonds among corporate Meeting Planners, Incentive Houses, DMCs and hoteliers are key to winning events and succeeding in this difficult market. However, this long channel of distribution shows a slow but steady move towards disintermediation. In order to save money and get “more for less”, meeting planners are starting to use Internet to skip intermediaries in the channel of distribution.
As we all know, the use of Internet is commonplace in many fields of tourism (specially those that refer to individual reservations) but this was not the case in Corporate Group Travel. But things are changing. The new wave of millennials is starting to take decision-making positions in event management and they act differently. Millennials are digital natives in comparison to traditional Meeting Planners who are digital immigrants. Digital natives were born in the Internet era and they have Internet in their DNA, whereas digital immigrants were born before that and had to learn to use Internet “the hard way”.
Slowly but steadily the MICE industry is becoming digital. Only a few years ago, event stakeholders had a website as a window to show a nice corporate image and information about the company. Nowadays there is an ever-increasing number of Internet portals that provide direct booking possibilities to the new wave of millennial decision-makers. The final objective of these portals is to make users save time and money by cutting short the long channel of distribution of the MICE industry. Portals like: CVent, Starcite, Hotelplanner, Micefinder or Eventdeals are some fine examples of how the MICE industry is moving online.
We all have to pay good attention to the new demands of Millenials. Turning a blind eye on this can be lethal for your company and all stakeholders in the MICE industry have to adapt to the new circumstances. Now, when designing our annual marketing plan, we have to carefully study our online strategy. Let me just give you some hints that will probably open your eyes to the new reality:
- Your website has to be pro-active and actually “sell” your services. Not just show a nice face.
- SEO and SEM are vital in your new strategy
- Keep an eye on the new online players; they may not be as quiet as you think. Beneath their innocent look they are already selling thousands of room-nights monthly.
- Social Networks play a supporting role to your overall marketing strategy
- Do not save money on e-marketing professionals. Your cousin or a trainee has probably helped you out so far, but the new times are much more demanding.
And remember: winning a pitch for an event nowadays is not just about inviting the meeting-planner to a nice meal and having a few drinks. Millennials have different rules; they are much more demanding and… much more professional than that !