MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) is a profitable source of business for many types of operators in the hospitality industry, from hotels and visitor attractions to sporting venues.
There is some evidence that parts of the market saw a downturn last year - overnight conferences, for example - and there are fears that any downturn in corporate spend on "non-essential" costs could impact on overall trading levels, but there is plenty to suggest that operators need to maximise their participation in what remains a very profitable market.
And here is the main point. This is a market that needs to be planned for and promoted to. While some hotels attract business simply through a good, highly visible location, many need more specific development and marketing plans to be effective with MICE.
The key for planning lies in quality and thinking through the visitor experience. Review your offer totally from the visitor's perspective. What is your image? How is the greeting? What is the customer experience? How do the facilities really work? Where is the organiser's support? Success demands active management involvement, particularly as it is a highly competitive market.
Marketing is often best done in effective collaboration, whether with local or area marketing consortia, partner organisations such as travel companies, or industry sector groups. These require your active involvement, though, not deferring your promotional activities to others.
Finally, think through every possible way that your business can benefit from these markets, from using additional space in marquees, to linking with local attractions or even renting car park space for trailer displays.
Chris Morton, www.chrismortonassociates.com