By Jorge J. J. Martínez
Let’s start off our predictions for MICE in 2022 by sharing Rodrigo Esponda’s vision for integrated management of tourist destinations. Mr. Esponda is the director of the Los Cabos Tourism Trust (Fideicomiso de Turismo de Los Cabos, or FITURCA).
In 2019, 20 percent of visitors to Los Cabos went for a MICE-related activity. By the end of 2021 we estimate recuperating 71 percent of 2019’s sales; as of this time 75 percent of 2019’s RFPs (request for proposals) has been reached. It’s worth noting that the average price of services and net profits are both greater than those of 2019.
“Destination management’s role is more important than ever; a MICE program will not be attractive without integrating all of the players and without an understanding of the collective benefit. We hope that in three years the MICE industry will surpass its 2019 numbers in importance and economic spillovers,” stated Rodrigo Esponda.
“We believe that 2022 will be a challenging year; there will be different strains of the virus, and contagion, and outbreaks. In the United States there is a large discrepancy in vaccination rates, some regions have a high rate and others are only at 35 percent. There’s a debate about whether the vaccine should be required or not,” added the FITURCA director.
What are the essential elements for a successful destination in 2022?
· Protocols are here to stay. “Not just establishing procedures, but continuing to optimize them; looking for new certifications; and biosecurity and human wellness will all be very important, and requiring a new standard of innovation.”
· Authentic experiences will make the difference. Rodrigo emphasized that it’s not about having experiences just to have them, rather that they be meaningful as well as realistic regarding the nature and services available in each destination.
· Developing innovation and technology. “When we talk about technology we must acknowledge that things progress quickly; what is seen as innovative today could be obsolete in three years.” For example, holographic virtual reality presentations are now available.
· Uniformity in the destination’s offerings. “If some element of the value chain isn’t aligned with what is being offered, there will be a quick rejection. Investment and coordination of touristic service providers are necessary, so that everyone is on the same page.”
· Air and logistical connectivity. “Today’s customers are looking for better, safer and more reliable travel options. If it is necessary to make two or three connections in order to attend an event, we need to work on accessibility.”
· Sustainability and social responsibility. “Corporate and associative markets are truly looking to leave a positive footprint based on the programs they adopt and their contributions to the community.”
Effective communication is crucial. “If destinations are not in touch with their markets, with meeting planners and industry professionals through different digital channels, if they don’t optimize and keep updated, they’ll miss out on a lot.”
Stephanie Harris, president ofIncentive Research Foundation (IRF), asserts that the majority want to take incentive trips.