Cover Story

Gap in expo world that needs filling

Updated: 2011-09-23 08:35

By Liu Haiying (China Daily)

Twitter Facebook Myspace Yahoo! Linkedin Mixx

China should set up convention and visitor bureaus to compete with rivals from overseas

Association conventions and corporate meetings and events are the main segments of the meeting industry. Both have strong links to the economic and business climate in China.

So it is no surprise that the meeting industry has grown in tandem with China's impressive economic growth of the last decade.

The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and the Shanghai World Expo in 2010 successfully helped draw global attention to China as a favorable destination for big-ticket events. China was ranked No 8 for association conventions held globally last year, according to a report from the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).

Beijing and Shanghai are the top two destinations in China for domestic and global conventions and meetings. Both locations are easily accessible and have well-connected international airports, superb infrastructure such as hotels and world-class convention centers, apart from a plethora of choices for dining and entertainment. These cities also offer immense business value for organizers and participants.

According to the ICCA, Beijing and Shanghai were ranked 12 and 20 among the global destinations for meetings. Second-tier cities such as Hangzhou, Chengdu, Qingdao and Xi'an are now emerging as alternative destinations for business meetings.

Nobody doubts the immense potential for the meeting industry in China. Meetings often mean business and the value of face-to-face meetings will never fade in China. Conventions and meetings are essentially platforms for people to meet, communicate, share information, network and develop business.

Two-digit gross domestic product growth signifies the active business dynamics of China, while the need for more meeting opportunities provides strong impetus for industry growth. According to a survey conducted by the London-based Reed Travel Exhibitions in 2010, nearly 71 percent of Chinese respondents were keen on undertaking more business trips to achieve their business goals.

The vast Chinese market has also been attracting many foreign companies including destination management companies, professional conference organizers and venue management companies that compete directly with local players.

To survive in this open market with ever-increasing competition, local players should take the initiative to benchmark the global industry leaders and provide high-level professional services.

China National Convention Center (CNCC), as China's biggest and first purpose-built congress center, has been engaging in growing its competitive capacity along these lines since opened in November 2009. Up to the first half of 2011, CNCC has hosted 1,025 international and national conventions and meetings. Of these, the number of conventions and meetings with attendance of more than 1,000 reached 130.

During the course of operating the center, we have realized that in China individual efforts to compete for international events are still weak. In fact in the decision-making process, the event organizer always evaluates the destination before selecting the venue. So it is important to bring all the suppliers together and market destinations collectively.

In countries where the industry is well developed, there is always a convention and visitor bureau that plays the lead role by connecting industry suppliers and promoting destinations. Besides, the bureau also assists in official bids, and facilitates research and training activities.

As far as I believe, the value of a bureau lies not only in the service, but also in the confidence brought to the event by organizers and attendees. It is high time that China took a step in that direction.

The author is CEO of China National Convention Center.

(China Daily 09/23/2011 page7)


The snuff of dreams

Chinese collectors have discovered the value of beautiful bottles

Perils in relying on building boom
Fast forward to digital age
Bonds that tie China. UK

European Edition


Let them eat cake

Cambridge University graduate develops thriving business selling cupcakes

A case is laid to rest

In 1937, a young woman'S body was found in beijing. paul french went searching for her killer

Banking on change

Leading economist says china must transform its growth model soon

Sowing the seeds of doubt
Lifting the veil
Exclusive attraction