(Last updated on: 26/03/2021)
Mice tourism is a prominent part of the tourism industry, yet many people have no idea what MICE means! Well, in this article I am going to change that! Read on to learn what mice tourism is, how the MICE tourism industry has grown worldwide and why this type of tourism is so important!
What is MICE tourism?
MICE tourism is a part of the business tourism industry. It encompasses four niche areas, which are:
- Incentive travel
As you can see, MICE is actually an acronym used to group together the four tourism types mentioned above- contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with rodents!
MICE tourism is typically tourism provision that is planned in advance and designed for large groups of people for particular purposes. Leong (2007) defines MICE as ‘a type of tourism where groups of participants are gathered to achieve certain purposes’.
Below, I have provided an explanation of each component of MICE:
Mice tourism includes any types of travel for the purpose of a meeting(s). This ranges from small meeting to large meetings. Meetings can be short in duration (e.g. last a couple of hours) or long (e.g. a week or more). Types of meetings include (but are not limited to):
- Board meetings
- Focus groups
- Training seminars
- Strategy planning
- Shareholder meetings
- Management meetings
Traditionally, meetings have been predominantly face-to-face, however recent years have seen a big shift towards virtual meetings, which was accelerated by the COVID pandemic and subsequent and rapid move to digital means around the world. This will likely result in the continued decrease of travel for the purpose of meetings in the coming years.
Incentive travel refers to travel that intends to motivate or reward company stakeholders. There are different types of incentive travel, including:
- Familiarisation trips
- Teambuilding trips
- Reward trips
Research has demonstrated that incentive travel is an important corporate culture builder. If you are looking for a way to motivate your staff and enhance productivity, retention and output throughout your business, then incentive travel is often a worthwhile investment.
A conference is an event that facilitates presentation, discussion and the showcasing of work within a professional network. Conferences are often important networking events and have been a prominent part of the business tourism industry to date.
Conferences can last a day or a week or more, depending on the structure and purpose. People have historically travelled great distances for the purposes of conferences, particularly in the travel and tourism sector.
Examples of travel and tourism related conferences include:
- Association for Tourism and Leisure Education and Research annual conference
- TBEX conferences for travel creators
- Sustainable tourism conference
Whilst COVID saw conference organisers adapt and move online during the pandemic, there will always remain a space for physical conferences. There is no replacement for the face-to-face networking opportunities that occur during conferences, thus physical conferences will be here to stay, although perhaps to a lesser scale. Many conferences may move towards a hybrid approach of online and physical attendance.
Exhibitions provide an opportunity for businesses to showcase their products or services. They are often in the form of trade shows.
Exhibitions will often include stalls, breakout rooms, discussion points, presentations and opportunities for networking. Exhibitions are often large events involving large amounts of people.
Popular exhibitions in the travel and tourism industry include:
The growth of MICE tourism
MICE tourism has grown considerably in recent years. This growth has been particularly prominent in Asia, where tourism in countries such as China and India have increased significantly.
There have been more conferences organised and more exhibitions in recent years than ever before. This is in part due to a growing population worldwide. It is also because our world has become more interconnected and globalised, thus requiring more meetings, conferences and other events that require international travel.
Why is MICE tourism important?
MICE tourism can be beneficial to a destination’s economy. It also provides a wealth of opportunities for individual companies or organisations who want to put themselves on the international stage.
Other benefits ion MICE tourism include:
- It facilitates the access to new technology
- It attracts high-spending visitors
- It provides high yield and return per capita
- It enhances the international economic contact
- It creates more economic multiplier effect and competitiveness
- It can enhance off-peak tourism
MICE tourists often stay longer and spend more money than other tourists, making them important tourism stakeholders. MICE tourism can also help to contribute to community building, urban renewal, and growth of the national identity (Getz, 2008). Furthermore, MICE tourism can encourage development in a destination, particularly in the areas of convention and exhibition centers, improvements of airports and other transport infrastructure and various urban renewal schemes.
Industry players in the MICE tourism sector
MICE tourism is a multifaceted industry, involving a number of tourism stakeholders. This includes:
- Transport providers (international and domestic)
- Accommodation providers
- Those who provide pre- and post-conference tour opportunities
- Staff at specific venues – purpose built centres and hotels
- Professional conference and exhibition organisers and catering services
- Social program leaders for delegates and participants
- Specialised technical support such as audiovisual services
The variety of stakeholders involved in MICE tourism indicates the potentially wide ranging economic impacts of MICE tourism. It also provides rationale for support from government agencies in many countries. It also indicates the scope of the challenges which must be met in coordinating the activities of different stakeholders to ensure that the MICE tourism industry is sustainable and effectively managed.
The future for MICE tourism
The MICE industry size was valued at $805 billion in 2017 and was expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.6% to reach $1,439.3 billion by 2025. However, COVID has had a drastic impact on this and this growth is expected to slow or even decline as a result.
MICE tourism is here to stay, but much of it has/will continue to move online, meaning that the monetary value is significantly reduced.
The continuing MICE tourism industry growth (whether physically or online) shall have a positive impact in the growth of businesses, cities and destinations around the world.
As I mentioned before, globalisation has played a huge role in the growth of the MICE tourism industry and it is anticipated that this will continue well into the future. Exactly how the MICE tourism industry may look in the future is not exactly clear, however.
MICE tourism: Further reading
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