Blogger: Jaruwan Suwannasat, Director, Exhibition and Events Department of TCEB
The passage of the exhibition attendee, organiser, exhibitor and buyer, is not a straightforward one. Attendees must book flights and reserve rooms at hotels near to the venue, apply for visas, make plans for the potentially complicated transit of goods, and on arrival conduct themselves in accordance with the varying cultural sensibilities.
From the early stages of marketing and audience development, to the involvement of contractors and venues, through to auditing and post-event analysis, the organiser and its national affiliates must walk with the visitor hand-in-hand.
In Thailand the business events (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions, or MICE) industry contributes 0.8 per cent to our national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This may seem modest, but when you consider the fact our national GDP figure is more than US $387bn, the numbers become more significant.
This figure is attributed to both the direct and indirect drivers of revenue arising from international exhibitions and business events. For example, the host city benefits directly from the hotels bookings, the rental of the venue and the contractors required to make the event happen. Indirectly it benefits from the peripheral jobs created to accommodate the events: the extra hotel staff, the additional restaurateurs and bar-owners, as well as those who facilitate extra-curricular activities such as tour operators and civic attractions. Then there is the inbuilt impact; the visitors spending their money at the event.
In exhibition-specific terms from economic impact study, the total expenditure in 2015 was estimated at 53.1bn baht (US $1.51bn). Interestingly, the total estimated value-added expenditure was 24.4bn baht. In 2014 the average delegate spend was 138,840 baht, with each event adding value of 253.6m baht in 2014; again both estimated. And let us not forget that in 2015 alone the exhibition industry in Thailand led to the creation of an estimated 43,865 jobs.
Between 2010 and 2015, Thailand’s events were regularly attended by our regional friends from Malaysia, Japan, China, Indonesia and Singapore. In total 88,620 of them (48 per cent of the international visitor total) walked the floors at our exhibitions.
However, it is crucial to our success as an industry that we also cater for those who may need a greater deal of information, reassurance and security if they are to feel comfortable travelling so far to attend an event. These are the visitors that we must provide with the tools to do their business at our events, secure in the knowledge they are being well cared for.
Digital companions such as our ‘Biz Thailand’ mobile app, which serves as a gateway for MICE travellers conducting their business in Thailand, become just as important as buyer/seller matchmaking, when it comes to creating a successful event far from home.
A successful exhibition is as good for Thailand, as it is for our visitors.