▲ As the five-week MICE Specialist Training Courses come to an end, students will now try to transform Jeju into the ideal location for national and international meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions. Photo courtesy Jeju Tourism Organization
This is the third in a 3-part series detailing the Jeju Tourism Organization’s MICE Specialist Training Courses. — Ed.
How well can Jeju Island tap into the MICE industry?
The Jeju Tourism Organization’s MICE Specialist Training Courses shed some light on this question during its recent five-week educational course for island residents interested in the field.
Now it is safe to say the island attracts revenue for MICE (short for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) at the rate of a slow trickle from a mountain spring, but the possibilities exist for income to burst forth in the form of an Old Faithful geyser.
The JTO’s program, conducted in English and sponsored by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, brought in top professionals from around Asia with the long-term goal of making Jeju Island a resort-based and hub city in Northeast Asia’s MICE industry. These various presenters offered their knowledge, raised questions, and constructively criticized.
In Part I of this series (Jeju Weekly No. 46), Korean MCI Director Kim Heung Hwan’s views explained what the island can focus on immediately. Namely, he believes a short workable slogan along with one representative image will create a successful brand for Jeju.
Kim also outlined the need for one comprehensive government Web site in union with the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Among other topics were a proactive stance towards building a large casino, increasing the capacity of indoor venues and hosting yearly lifetime MICE events.
More specifically, David Jones, associate professor of Hotel and Tourism Management at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, broke down the importance of differentiation during a four-hour presentation.
“What are Jeju’s unique strengths?” he asked the class and continued, “You have to be [unparalleled] from your competition, but you have to be believable. Don’t sell what everybody else has. If you do, you can’t differentiate yourself.”
Although Jeju has some great facilities and many key features to attract MICE revenue, it’s not that simple.
“Jeju knows what it has,” Jones said. Much more than facilities are needed because “many places have great facilities and great hotels.”
There needs to be prior success in the form of positive reviews from other parties. In addition, prospective MICE candidates have needs.
Their needs have to match Jeju’s features, Jones said. “Include emotion in a proposal. Emotion takes candidates there. Logic actually makes the decision.”
Another four-hour chunk of class was presented by Chika Takahashi, general manager of MCI Tokyo. She detailed the bidding process for conventions and meetings.
Two specific points Takahashi went into were Jeju’s advantage of being a new market, since “destinations where a convention has never been held are usually given priority.”
Jeju is a new market for most, yes. However, the bidding and selection process always pits cities against cities, Takahashi said. Not, countries against countries. Jeju is a small fry in Korea’s basket. It has to rub against Seoul, Busan and other national cities often when competing for MICE dollars.
During the JTO’s field trip to Gyeongju’s Historic Areas UNESCO site, Changwon Exhibition Convention Center and Busan’s BEXCO and Nurimaru APEC House, another topic was raised. Since Jeju only has one major, four-year university, Jeju often suffers from a brain drain as many of the island’s best and brightest young talent go to the mainland or possibly abroad for university and work.
Limited resources often result in limited production.
So Jeju has to fall back on what makes a place great.
According to Maureen O’Crowley, vice president of the Seoul Convention Bureau, these are of prime importance to a MICE location: attractions that improve quality of life; easy transport — for all modes —walking, biking, cars; appealing design and architecture style; encouragement of human contact and social activities; promotion of community involvement, sustainability; and memorable character.
These questions must be asked: Does this describe Jeju? And, if so, are these factors enough to increase the flow of revenue to Jeju’s MICE industry?
No one knows, yet.
With all the classroom knowledge, MICE students put their skills to the test in different teams with a class-ending mock composition and presentation of a bidding proposal for a convention at the Grand Hotel.
It was impressive seeing Jeju islanders give long, detailed presentations solely in English. The class concluded with a table and wine manner course presented by Kang Sang Hun, manager of the Grand Hotel, in addition to the closing graduation ceremony and dinner.
Jeju’s future MICE dollars may not be predictable like the coursework. It may just have to ride the South Sea. At any time, incentives could be coming in or going out.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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