Is Entering the MICE Market Now a Good Idea for OTAs?
Hotels, more than a place for people to relax, are also a hub for large groups of people with similar interests to meet. From business meetings, to geek conventions and events of any topic you can think about; the meeting rooms of the hotels always offer a place for any community to get together. Prior to February 2020, this seemed like a great sector to be part of, but because of the COVID-19, these kinds of events have taken a beating. Would it be wise for OTAs to enter the MICE market now?
What’s the MICE market?
The meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions (MICE) market, also known as meetings industry, is a way in which large groups of people with shared affinities are brought together in a touristic destination. The meeting size can vary: from large communities renting a whole convention center to smaller groups (but still several people) that just need a little hotel meeting room to get together.
In this industry, you can find several people working on making these gatherings possible: from the event planners to the suppliers of everything needed at the meetings. Thanks to these kinds of events, different industries can collaborate, share knowledge of their fields and apply them back home. This is the key for the MICE market to stay relevant, even in difficult periods like pandemics.
What’s the position of an OTA on the MICE market?
The industry of meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions extends to one main business opportunity for OTA’s to make revenue: mass accommodation. Commonly, groups gathering at these events are coming from considerable distances and will need a place to stay. An OTA has the chance to offer accommodation solutions to the event planners in more accessible ways, by giving them the chance to compare between different hotels and accommodations on a website, without the need to make any phone call to those hotels.
For stepping up the booking game, OTA’s can also offer on their platforms the option to book a meeting room on any hotel or meeting place, such as co-working sites. As these different options bring a wide range of possibilities for OTAs to work on the MICE market, a good idea to take the advantage of this industry is to create MICE packages. These pre-built packages can work for groups that want to make the minimum planning of their meetings and that just want to enjoy gathering around. The packages can include the accommodation, a meal plan and, most importantly, a meeting room booked just for them. Offering these packages around pre-established conventions like ITB Berlin and Fitur are likely to get high conversions when marketed to the correct audience.
Is this the right time for exploring the MICE market?
Since the world has experienced a big change in the way things are done, the MICE market has also seen a serious turn-over. However, as it was mentioned before, the goals of these gatherings have always been to share knowledge and to collaborate, so we have seen events that used to take place on physical spaces migrating to the virtual environment. These may change things for some recurrent meetings out there, that saw in the virtual space a way to continue gathering in a more asequible way.
But this is not the case of the majority of the MICE events, that are looking at virtuality just as a containment measure. These events are looking for ways to bring back the experience of sharing a physical venue with large groups of people. Even during a pandemic, they try to get back to face to face meetings, by following strict social distance measures. This trend may be pointing to a near future, when the MICE market will make its return stronger than ever. According to a study published by Allied Research Market, the MICE industry will likely become a $1 Trillion dollar industry by 2025. So even if this projection takes a hit due to Covid-19, it is still as massive market.
OTAs must look into expanding their product offering with products such as Staycations, Workations and MICE, in order to cater to the new reality we are living in. Entering the MICE market now as an OTA can be a good idea if your travel company can offer innovative solutions for an upcoming wave of events. The past crises had shown opportunities for different companies to stand out on their markets by solving the problems that arise for people during these times. What innovative solutions can your travel company offer to the promising, but damaged, MICE market?