by Patricia Wee | May 15, 2020
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Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) senior VP - Business, Nichapa Yoswee: "We foresee that short and mid-haul markets will be able to come back first based on RFP enquiries we have received, such as Singapore, Japan. Credit: TCEB

BANGKOK - Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) has rolled out new initiatives in the MICE industry as it readies itself to resume business events this June.  

Virtual Meeting Space
The first initiative, Virtual Meeting Space (VMS) is to enable Thai MICE entrepreneurs to continue their businesses and to re-skill their workforce.

The VMS project is a means by which TCEB will provide support for MICE stakeholders to hold events on three online platforms:
• Webinar - support in the preparation and management of this platform for organisers to hold events.

• O2O (offline to online) - this platform targets exhibitions. Exhibitors can showcase their activities, products and services. Online payment systems will help to boost sales volume.

• E-Learning Platform - an online learning centre for MICE entrepreneurs to re-skill or up-skill their workforce. Learners will get a certification from TCEB if they complete course requisites.

COVID-19 Free Meetings
The second initiative, COVID-19 Free Meetings, which runs till June, aims to assist MICE venue operators to upgrade the safety standard of their facilities.

TCEB will subsidise venue operators to formulate plans and prepare tools that fit the measures in the screening and prevention of COVID-19 as stipulated by the Ministry of Public Health.

These include the installation of body temperature monitoring systems, the screening of body temperature before participation, the screening of delegate's timeline, the preparation of hand-washing points and alcohol dispensers, and the practice of social distancing.

Enquires from source markets
Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) senior VP - Business, Ms Nichapa Yoswee, anticipates that international meetings and incentives groups will slowly return from July 2020 but this will hinge upon travel restriction policies in each country.

She said: "We foresee that short and mid-haul markets will be able to come back first based on RFP enquiries we have received, such as Singapore, Japan. Outbound travel from China is expected to be back after October onwards and Indian market might start from August or September on a very optimistic note.

"For long haul markets, based on the feedback from agencies and DMCs, we expect booking from Australian market to start in July for travel into Thailand in 2021, while the UK market may start in late August (most positive outlook).

"There are still several events that have been confirmed for September but we need to wait for some time if they will go as planned. Overall, we expect the period when the market will be active again should be Q4 (Sep-Dec) or Q1 (Jan-Sep) 2021 based on lead generation and indicators from our representatives."

MICE venue hygiene guidelines

TCEB's MICE Venue Hygiene Guidelines include three key practices:  pre-event, onsite and post-event. It was developed in collaboration with stakeholders - Thailand Incentive and Convention Association (TICA), Thai Exhibition Association (TEA), Thai Hotels Association (THA) and Event Management Association (EMA).

The guidelines are aimed at helping to develop measures and practices for the reopening of businesses in a manner that can curb the infection.

Pre-event practices
These include preparedness of staff, transport, setting up of screening point, self-screening application or website for attendees to feedback within 24 hours before the event, and a manual for those related to the event, such as permitted number of attendees, instructions on holding large scale activities and hygiene instructions for attendees.

Onsite practices
The onsite practices focus on public heath safety measures and use of IT to mitigate risks, such as arrangement of venue to reduce touch points, regular cleaning of touch points, QR code for registration and satisfaction survey to ease the congestion, room layout for better ventilation, 2-m apart seating, microphone set-up at different points and regular cleaning after use.

For speakers who are from locations outside the host city, the attendees must be informed of safety measures taken to reduce incoming risks, such as shuttle service for speakers or providing accommodation near the venue for the speakers.

For exhibitions, advance booking technology for visiting exhibiting booths will lower crowd numbers. Virtual exhibition technology should be employed to create experiences for those waiting in the queue. Online platforms should be developed for product booking or purchase.

Post event practices
These include the organisers having to check the orders and announcements of the government's Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) as a reference when producing a report of the event, and the employment of a waste management system that can prevent infection.

Looking into the future
"TCEB foresees three types of meeting and incentive experiences that could appeal to the first wave of international meeting and incentive groups," said Khun Nichapa. She suggested the following:

Exclusivity
"Event organisers may consider investing in exclusive buy-outs of hotels, venues and restaurants as a 'group isolation' strategy conceived to make delegates feel safer. They may also think of chartering day cruises and privatising islands for incentive travel groups who enjoy fresh air and outdoors activities.

Remote locations
"Remote destinations that are relatively accessible from airport locations may attract small groups that prefer some social distancing. Sellers that enhance their value proposition with relevant content like authentic local experiences and wellness programs could excel.

Careful food sourcing and preparation
"We are in an era where people's well-being really matters. Meeting delegates who are conscious of not wasting food would most likely choose plated meals over buffets. Event organisers may become more inquisitive about food source and quality; focusing on immunity-boosting menu designs. They may also promote team building activities that have proven social impact."