Bangkok’s MICE business
P ristine beaches, lip-smacking cuisine and affordability are a few reasons why Thailand is popular amongst travellers. According to the Thailand Office of Tourism Development, the total number of visitors to Thailand grew from eight million arrivals in 1998 to around 30 million in 2015. Since a few years, Thailand’s MICE industry has been growing at a drastic pace, increasing by 49 per cent between 2010 and 2013. Revenue generated by MICE grew by US$1 billion during the same period. Due to political instability, MICE arrivals in 2014 reduced by nine per cent from the previous year, only to bounce back in 2015 to the usual figures. Thailand was ranked 25th out of 141 countries worldwide, and third among ASEAN countries after Singapore and Malaysia in the Tourism and Travel
Competitiveness Index 2015 published by the World Economic Forum. Numbers gathered by Thailand Office of Tourism Development show that MICE accounts for seven per cent of all inbound visitors to Thailand as of 2015. Due to their impressive spending potential, this category of travellers is highly regarded in the country.
Direct air connectivity to the important metropolises around the globe, diverse cities, exotic islands and world-class hospitality are a few more reasons why Thailand has evolved into a preferred MICE destination. This is further attributed to improved infrastructure, varied accommodation options by international hotel chains and wellversed local event management companies.
Earlier this year, Sumate Sudasna, managing director of Conference and Destination Management Thailand Incentive and Convention Association (TICA) confirmed Thailand’s popularity amongst MICE coordinators in numbers,“There are about 360 meetings and trade shows planned in Thailand for the second half of 2017, out of which 75 per cent are international-scale conferences and trade exhibitions. The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) positions Thailand at 24th in the World’s Association Meeting Destinations list for this year. In the same survey, Bangkok jumped from the 16th to the 12th position. Research and Markets’ recent
Thailand Industry and Forecast to 2022 report, predicts that the kingdom could expect to welcome more than 1.3 million MICE travellers by 2022. This would generate around US$4 billion in revenue.”
Having visited the Thai capital a few times in the past, on my recent visit, I looked forward to exploring its MICE aspect keenly. It begins with Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, a 1,360-key Marriott International property in the heart of the city. (A Marriott hotel can qualify for the Marquis brand if it has over 1,000 rooms, along with a few other criteria like expansive meeting facilities and convenient location). Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park is the first Marquis-categorised hotel in Asia-Pacific, and boasts of 4,645 sqm of venue space across 35 event rooms and six F&B outlets.
We were a part of Marriott International’s test audience for an interesting global partnership. The American hospitality giant has partnered with TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) — an eminent media organisation, which posts talks online for free distribution, under the slogan “ideas worth spreading”. As a part of this collaboration, TED Salons are being held across select Marriott hotels around the world. Past TED Salons have taken place at Seattle Marriott Waterfront, Marriott Hotel Al Forsan, Abu Dhabi and London Marriott Hotel County Hall. This is the fourth in the world and first hotel in the Asia-Pacific region to host the event.
Speaking to Mike Fullerson, vice president of brand and marketing at Marriott International, gave us an understanding as to why Bangkok was chosen to showcase this unique partnership. “The Thai capital is a strategic destination in the Asia-Pacific that appeals to everyone around the world. It has a large expat
left: Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park facade, Deluxe King room, and the Pagoda meeting room