Malaysian MICE groups up 50 per cent but cut spending as Japan offers incentives

Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) has reported an increase of 50 per cent in corporate incentive arrivals from Malaysia in 2016. But MICE industry stakeholders have confirmed that their choice of programmes is simpler and spending has been downscaled, primarily due to a weak Malaysian currency.

Jennifer Tan, director of Japanese inbound operator, AISC, said: “There is an increasing demand for three-star properties especially from small and medium-sized enterprises. Another way organisers are dealing with a smaller budget is to offer a free day to delegates but giving them a food allowance for the day.”

Queenney Lew, head of MICE at Apple Vacations & Conventions, stated that apart from opting for more economically-priced hotels, Malaysian outbound event organisers are reducing the number of nights in the itineraries. Previously, five-night trips were in vogue, and combined regions such as Honshu with Hokkaido. Lew affirmed: “But now we are getting requests for two or three nights and to single destinations such as Osaka or Tokyo only.”

Good offers from airlines is a way for DMCs to soften the cost of the event for their clients while taking groups out of the pricier main cities to interesting destinations away such as Hakone outside of Tokyo and Ineno Funaya outside of Honshu, is cost-effective.

JNTO is offering special support programmes – such as hosting site inspections, meet and greet services at the airport and complimentary entertainment during gala dinners – to encourage budget-conscious companies to take an event to Japan.

Susan Maria Ong, MICE director, Asia Pacific with JNTO, confirmed: “JNTO has recently compiled a subsidies support list and it is on the website. Such support will defray the costs for organisers who are looking to hold an event in Japan.”