The inaugural ICE conference in Bali brought together more than 80 leading figures to discuss the challenges of business events today.

In his welcome address at the event held in December at The Stones Hotel, Legian Bali, ICE inaugural president Nigel Gaunt said incentives, conferences and events are a growing element of the overall tourism sector; now accounting for more than 50 per cent of the reason people travel for business.

“It is not just a big part of global tourism; it is a vital and increasingly important part of marketing. This investment in business events by the corporate sector is in direct response to a well-considered shift in their marketing spend – away from traditional advertising to our industry. Because it gives greater measurability and greater return on investment.”

The day’s first session by Robin Lokerman, president of MCI Asia Pacific, highlighted new trends affecting business events. Content creation, compliance and the digitisation of events are all key factors shaping this sector. Employing more sophisticated measurements of return on investment and paying heed to sustainable issues will also be crucial in future.

“Green events can have huge cost saving advantages,” Lokerman said.

“Using water jugs instead of plastic bottles, and smartphone apps instead of printed programs, can help to reduce costs and increase efficiency. It is encouraging to see destinations such as Singapore, Thailand and South Korea driving sustainability. But more needs to be done. Asia is still lagging behind Europe in this regard.”