BANGKOK, 25 September 2020: The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) is counting on hybrid meetings to get the country’s events business back on the road to recovery.
It tested a hybrid event Thailand MICE United, earlier this month, reaching out to meeting suppliers, entrepreneurs and prospective clients.
International events are not likely to return to Thailand until late 2021 if a vaccine is commercially available, leaving the country to rely entirely on domestic meetings. However, there are health risks involved in meeting physically in air-conditioned venues. Hotels and convention centres may present a more significant risk than commercial flights due to low-tech air filtering systems. Social distancing is often not practised in large-scale physical meetings, which is encouraging organisers to opt for hybrid meetings that rely on most of the delegates attending digitally.
The pilot full-day event saw a turnout of 1,240 delegates at Royal Paragon Hall which is well over the ceiling that is advised by health authorities. However, another 4,778 joined the event via a Facebook connection. The jury is still out on whether hosting large events in enclosed spaces can be executed safely. However, recent Covid-19 flare-ups or second waves in Europe have prompted the return of strict restrictions limiting the capacity of physical, social gatherings. The World Travel Market trade show event held in London in November is now a hybrid virtual event.
A key component of ‘Thailand MICE United’ was the MICE Mart, which served 360 pre-scheduled appointments between 132 MICE suppliers from across the country and 305 buyers under enhanced health and safety measures.
Other than the MICE Mart, the event also featured a seminar on how Covid-19 has reshaped client demand, a showcase of new technologies, and a dialogue on new meeting standards in the face of COVID-19.
TCEB used the hybrid event to introduce two new MICE cities – Songkhla in the south and Nakhon Ratchasima in the northeast. They join Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket and Khon Kaen as the destinations most likely to attract meeting groups.
TCEB’s supports domestic MICE with a subsidy of up to THB30,000 per event. There are incentives for international MICE, but they are irrelevant until a Covid-19 vaccine is commercially available.