Lavish events, long meetings with many attendees, long lead times when sourcing for events are all things of the past. The MICE Academy shares its trends for the MICE Industry in 2014.

The Southern Africa MICE Industry has recovered from the corporate cutbacks of the 2009 recession. However the industry will never be the same. Recognising the change in the meetings and event landscape, the 2014 trend forecast will assist players in the industry develop a future-oriented strategy that can generate business and economic success.

More participation will lead to greater satisfaction among delegates as message retention levels become more important for successful programme outcomes. Unless a high-powered, well-established expert  the likes of  Bill Gates is on the platform, the ‘sage on the stage’ is becoming a negative factor as there is a tendency to be talking at the delegation not to them. Timing of commencement and completion may alter if delegation numbers drop due to traffic congestion patterns which are expected to  continue in 2014. The manner and methods of including participation will become a vital programme component, spearheaded by experienced designers of audience participation methodologies.

Top 10 MICE trends2. PRESENTERS
Presenters will be carefully selected and political rhetoric could be under scrutiny. Generic presentations that are not geared to the target audience will be frowned upon.  Professional presenters in particular will have to dig deeper to satisfy corporate and association requirements. So presenter guideline briefs will become more specific and finite for which presenters will be urged to deliver accordingly.

Besides the mega-capacity MICE venues, the plethora of competition continues unabated. Therefore, venues both with and (in particular) without accommodation should not be complacent in 2014.

  • Signage Poor internal and especially external direction signage will impact far more negatively in 2014 than what has been tolerated to date.
  • Access The advent of e-tolls could have a profound effect on those venues accessed from the national (N) highways during the first half of 2014. Innovation regarding alternate routes will be welcomed and is likely to turn an enquiry into a confirmed booking. This is an important issue which should not be ignored by MICE venues.
  • Food and beverage The higher-up the management-level of the delegation, the more likely healthier food fare will be expected.

Intermediaries (third parties/PCOs/Independent planners) will need to up their game and market their skills more positively as corporate and association Event Management Departments become more prominent. Personal relationships may take a back seat if competitive intermediaries can sell a better deal.  As the potential client becomes savvier as to the planning tasks to be undertaken, sweeping unsubstantiated claims of abilities may prove the downfall of a number of intermediaries.

Great for the industry, yet manual back-ups will continue. Cloud ‘buy-in’ will remain a challenge as lack–of-security suspicions continue. Although the industry per se will encourage delegates – irrespective of level – to convert to laptop/iPad/smartphone-generated applications during workshops and in-depth sessions. Technology will continue to play a major role in shaping the meetings industry, with the worlds of virtual and live events becoming ever more blurred. Globalisation is also key, with the increasing ‘interconnectedness’ of different cultures and people from around the world affecting the way planners shape their meetings.

Simple, cost-effective systems that indicate a positive PR spin is the real way in which the industry will conform. Greening could be taken seriously within the gambit of the individual employees sphere of influence. A new position of a green audit officer attached to a current job description within an organisation – similar to a health and safety officer – is not unlikely where effectively implemented.

Greater emphasis on time and motion will be deciding factors in relation to decisions of the most appropriate venues to use.  2014 is seen by the economists, especially with elections in the early part of the year, to be a troublesome time with economic growth in the doldrums.  Cut backs by government departments are likely to witness noticeable shifts in MICE spend. The smart venues and service providers will seek innovative charge structures, while absorbing certain elementary costs, so as to provide more ‘bang for the buck’.

The procurement aspect for utilising MICE suppliers and services will become more significant. With the plethora of various services available,  the events manager would be wise to investigate the procurement policies of their potential clients going forward.

Member associations, most of whom cater mainly for the suppliers and services, within the MICE industry will have to provide tangible benefits for current and potential members.  The economic climate envisaged to continue well into 2014 indicates that members may find the cost of networking too high a price to pay in member fees especially if the majority of members are not in decision-making positions within their respective companies. Introvert interests of office bearers is becoming more noticeable amongst members and association loyalty is likely to take a back-seat in comparison to high benefit expectations.

The higher education authorities and their various agencies are likely to establish a policy for verifiable CPD (Continuing Professional Development). It is therefore prudent for the industry not to pay lip-service to the CPD process.  Merely handing out certificates is likely to be frowned upon by corporate, association and government buyers, when the misguided intention for certification is viewed as securing more participants without credible substantiation.