Brand USA reaches out at ITB

Regional – As Asian outbound tourism continues to grow, the last quarter of 2013 saw US destinations coming together to introduce campaigns in the region. Under Brand USA, a public-private international marketing organisation established by the Travel Promotion Act in 2010, America made its debut presence at ITB Asia held in Suntec Singapore this October. Joined by exhibitors from Florida, Las Vegas, New York, San Francisco, Caesars Entertainment, Grand Canyon among others, a joint press conference expressed the US’ interest in reaching out to Southeast Asian tourists.

Brand USA vice-president of global partnership development, Jay Gray, told micenet ASIA MICE is a segment that the organisation and its destination partners are interested in, but sits as a secondary focus of existing campaigns.
“That said, we participate in MICE tradeshows through partnerships with Reed and IMEX to offer our MICE products and offerings under a Brand USA pavilion in a more cohesive approach.”

With distance and visa applications remaining as key barriers to attract more Asian MICE groups, Brand USA has been communicating to state departments the processes that are key to increasing visitation.

“[State departments] have actually carved out specific sections to deal with visa applications for big groups. Instead of doing 100 individual applications, they’ll put them altogether and process them at the same time. And if there are any outliers or issues, they can deal with those quickly. But it also helps them to know that the applications are part of a 100-person group, and they’ll look at it differently.”


Event technology solution expands to Hong Kong

Hong Kong – GenieConnect, an event engagement solutions provider has announced the launch of an office in Hong Kong to meet the needs of its expanding customer base in Asia.

A provider of multi-lingual mobile event apps and attendee web portals, one-to-one meetings management
and segmented automated event marketing tools, the company was established in the UK in 2010 to help drive attendee engagement, increase revenues and supply organisers with intelligent and actionable insight into audience behaviour. Increased demand for intelligent event technology in the US has also prompted GenieConnect to introduce an office in Chicago.

With offices in the US and Asia, the company is now equipped with the sales and client resources in the respective time zones to fully support its customers and increased demand, CEO Giles Welch commented.


Accor’s culture of learning

Global – With a rapid expansion plan under way in Asia Pacific, Accor is working to ensure its general managers are amongst the most highly skilled in the industry through a benchmark development programme.

High Performing Leaders is a 12-month programme introduced to prepare 25 experienced general managers for senior leadership roles. Under a collaboration between Accor’s accredited training provider Academie Accor and Cornell University, it consists of six e-Cornell online leadership courses, a dedicated executive mentor, a collaboration site to share ideas and experiences, a forum with the Asia Pacific COO and a final presentation to the Executive Committee on learning outcomes.
The culture of the development programme has shifted from being process driven and focused on training to focusing on outcomes and learning, according to Accor Asia Pacific VP of learning and talent development, Christine Rumble.
“Organisations which embrace a learning culture create leaders and teams with open minds,” she said, adding that leaders and team members with open minds will be able to “generate business agility and adapt to change, which is essential in today’s dynamic business environment”.

All Accor general managers are also offered comprehensive career development and training opportunities, beginning with the on-boarding process including a thorough induction and a personal development plan incorporating experiences and formal training courses.

Offering six scholarships for the International Hospitality Management Online MBA from Glion each year, experienced general managers are encouraged to formalise their learning with a qualification.

GM of Pullman Jakarta Indonesia and area GM, Philippe Le Bourhis (pictured), the first Accor GM to graduate from this programme, said: “Hospitality has become much more technical than in the past, and while looking after customers remains essential, the MBA course gave me the opportunity to explore the current techniques, trends and technologies used in the industry today.”


What do Chinese meeting planners want?

China – Destinations and venues outside China will need to work harder to communicate with Chinese meeting planners should they wish to attract their business.
Presented by Rob Davidson (pictured), senior lecturer, events management at University of Greenwich, London at CIBTM this year, the first Chinese Meeting Planners Site Selection Survey cited that 35 per cent of Chinese meeting planners polled experienced difficulty in getting information about destinations outside China, and 47 per cent faced difficulties with venues outside China.

The seminar presentation at CITBM was based on findings generated from an online survey that investigated the priorities and experiences of meeting planners based in China, in terms of the process of choosing destinations and venues for their events.
The survey respondents cited the top four sources for receiving information about potential event destinations: educational trips, websites of destination marketing organisations, other meeting planners, and meetings industry exhibitions.
A destination’s feasibility to host events tend to be largely based on its climate, financial stability (an indication of its capability to provide financial or in-kind support), and visa requirements.

Venues located in proximity to the airport and public transportation and provide high-speed Wi-Fi will also tend to be more favourable, according to findings.
Chinese meeting planners polled highlighted that a venue’s inflexibility in negotiating facility prices and imposing extra charges for services such as audio-visual, parking and security tend to be key issues. Price negotiations were also identified as a major factor when they are deciding on a venue.