The city of Shanghai is an attractive MICE destination that needs to become truly global.
China’s unprecedented wealth boom correlates with an extensive increase in outbound FIT and MICE travel. Shanghai, the epitome of the country’s bolstering economy, is a metropolitan city reflective of its rapid ascension.
The city has a great mix of European style, flair and culture meshed with a vibrant new skyline. Most significantly, the calibre of present hotels, restaurants and attractions speaks no less of a city that is truly metropolitan. In addition to the current sea of international brand hotels, more have opened, many with sufficient event facilities.
Five minutes from the Shanghai New International Expo Center is Shanghai Marriott Hotel Pudong, a fresh property this year located in the heart of Pudong. With 323 rooms and suites and four F&B options, it also offers 1705 square metres (sqm) of banquet space inclusive of a 655-sqm divisible pillar-less grand ballroom and 10 function rooms.
Jing An Shangri-La, West Shanghai is also another new property on the Puxi side of the Huangpu River. As the cornerstone of the new 450,000-sqm Jing An Kerry Centre, the 508-room property comprises a 1743-sqm Grand Ballroom – the largest in West Shanghai, a 514-sqm junior ballroom, six function rooms and a unique self-contained event space, the Lifestyle Suite.
Additionally, Shanghai is expecting its first W-branded property under Starwood Hotels and Resorts next year. W Shanghai – The Bund will have 600 rooms depictive of a city lifestyle, and more than 2000 sqm of meeting space including a Grand Ballroom.
Apart from new accommodation, its iconic cultural and live entertainment landmark, Mercedes-Benz Arena has partnered Le Royal Meridien Shanghai under Starwood to become the venue’s official catering and and concessions exclusive partner. As the exclusive arena concessionaire, it will offer concert-goers a wide range of F&B covering Chinese, Japanese, Western and exotic Mediterranean cuisine.
While the offerings are clearly top-notch, event planners in Shanghai will benefit with a Chinese-speaking staff or a local logistics company appointed for assistance in visa applications and communication. Despite a new policy allowing travellers of 45 countries to go visa-free for 72 hours in transit, event planners should bear in mind that it is catered towards the business traveller segment and not so much MICE groups.
Despite the challenges event planners face in Shanghai, many are hopeful that future policy tweaks may further open the country up to foreign groups eager to use China as a host destination.