BY BRAD FOSTER
Entering just its fifth year of operation, the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau is already punching above its weight in promoting the country.
At an end-of-year media briefing in late 2012 key figures from the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) outlined a year to remember and a strong platform in which to build on past successes.
CEO Zulkefli Sharif, said despite global challenges, especially from Malaysia’s regional counterparts, there has been a positive increase in the number of business tourists visiting Malaysia.
“This is largely due to Malaysia’s unique identity as a multicultural country that has created a microcosm of Asia,” he said.
“It has world-class meeting facilities, amazing natural landscapes and is also seen as a role model for developing countries.”
Most recent figures point to steady growth. In 2011 Malaysia welcomed 1,285,145 business tourists compared to 1,278,014 in 2010.
Established in 2009 by the Ministry of Tourism, MyCEB was tasked to further strengthen Malaysia’s business tourism brand and position for the international meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) market under the nation’s Economic Transformation Program (ETP). MyCEB serves as a one-stop centre to assist meeting and event planners to bid for and stage regional and international business tourism events in Malaysia and act as a conduit for national
Beginning with just the Business Events Unit, another portfolio was added into its scope with the inception of the International Events Unit in 2011. MyCEB’s roles was further extended into bringing major international events revolving around music, arts, entertainment, sports and lifestyle into the country as well as supporting homegrown and home-hosted events.
General manager of sales and marketing of MyCEB’s BEU, Ms Ho Yoke Ping, said at the briefing that delegates “are interested in Malaysia as statistics have shown that we receive a steady number of delegates in international association meetings as compared to our competitors”.
“In 2012, we have managed to secure 24 bids for international association meetings which will bring in approximately RM 342 million in economic impact to the country.”
Ms Ho also elaborated on BEU’s efforts to increase arrivals through consistent messaging in promoting the country such as its newly launched incentive campaign known as ‘Malaysia- Asia like never before’.
“The campaign aims to leverage on various unique selling points of the country under themes such as Unique Venues, Theme Events, Corporate Social Responsibility and Team Building to attract more incentive delegates to Malaysia,” she said.
“What makes Malaysia unique is definitely its diversity of cultures where one can get a taste of all of Asia and all its other unique and rare elements, in a single destination. At MyCEB, we constantly try to promote this idea to our clients internationally and think of innovative ways on how to bring this experience to life.”
The International Events Unit of MyCEB, led by Tony Nagamaiah, has also been successful in its bids to attract international major events to Malaysia. In 2012, IEU supported major events such as the MTV World Stage 2012, the recent J Lo Dance Again World Tour Concert, and the upcoming The 27th Golden Disk Awards, dubbed as the Korean Grammy Awards.
“IEU identifies key segments with big potential to contribute to the nation’s economic growth. As of today, IEU has won eight international events via bidding which has attracted 112,500 spectators,” Mr Nagamaiah said.
“IEU also supports home grown or home hosted events such as the World Cup Asia/Intercontinental Cup – Langkawi 2012. Through our subvention program, we have secured 11 homegrown events attracting approximately 44,000 foreign spectators. IEU’s subvention program is the financial and non-financial incentives provided to attract international major events to the country. Organisations that receive our subventions go through assessment and must meet IEU’s set of criteria.”
The IEU’s upcoming plans include promoting international awareness by approaching reputable non-Malaysian event organising companies to organise events in Malaysia through participation in international roadshows and conferences.
“This will also encourage positive competition for local organisers. We are also looking to collaborate with industry partners such as airlines, hotels and travel agents to customise travel packages for events supported by MyCEB.”
MyCEB Down Under
Australian meeting and event planners were given a taste of the professionalism of MyCEB via a roadshow in late 2012 in which guests were not only introduced to venues, facilities and services available in Malaysia but were treated to some fantastic food by celebrity chef, Poh Ling Yeoh of Poh’s Kitchen and Masterchef fame (pictured above).
As a key market for Malaysia’s burgeoning business event sector, MyCEB pulled out all the stops utilising the professional event management skills of Peter Jones of Peter Jones Special Events for dinners and presentations in Melbourne and Sydney.
The MyCEB team was joined by eight industry partners including Penang Global Tourism, Sabah Tourism Board, Malaysia Airlines, Discovery Overland Holidays Sdn Bhd, Pacific World, UCSI Communication Sdn Bhd, Accor and CHM Hotels.
MyCEB general manager of sales and marketing, Ho Yoke Ping said Australia was viewed “as one of the most promising markets in Asia Pacific and this roadshow has provided an opportunity for Australian corporate and incentive planners to meet and engage with our Malaysian business event industry partners. The programs lined up during the roadshow showcased the best of what Malaysia has to offer which includes destination presentations via an interactive and informative networking dinner attended by more than 50 Australian corporate and incentive planners.”
As part of the dinner, celebrity chef Poh told guests what food she had prepared and gave some insights into her Malaysian heritage.
“In many ways I feel that I owe my food career to my Chinese Malaysian heritage,” she said.
“Being exposed to so many exotic ingredients and flavours has instilled in me an approach to cooking which is truly vibrant and unique. It was a pleasure for me to showcase this at MyCEB’s networking dinner.”
Apart from Poh’s participation, the interactive networking dinner also featured fun games and quiz segments to introduce Malaysia’s offerings to attendees. MyCEB also took the opportunity to introduce its new campaign and incentive brochure, ‘Malaysia – Asia like never before’ – an informative guide which is essential for all corporate and incentive planners who are looking for new and unique programs to experience in Malaysia.
The campaign showcases Malaysia as a unique destination for activities such as `Team Building’ and ‘Theme Events & Experiences’. Another activity included in the guide is cooking classes, similar to the session conducted by Poh.