HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Keeping the MICE flowing back

Ministry of Tourism and Sports has reason to celebrate

New pricing for Finnair

TAT to concentrate on PATA Travel Mart 2004

Keeping the MICE flowing back

Even while MICE delegates flood back to Asia driven by the simple need to make up for lost time and business, the region still has a perception issue to deal with. At a panel discussion entitled “Facing the MICE Challenge”, the panelists said the corporate meetings are back in full force but incentive groups would take a few more years to recover.

Gruppo Italpromo general manager, Antonio Acunzo, said, “After 9-11 the perceived safe places were South-east Asia, South America and continental Europe. Then came the Bali bombing and SARS and in three months the map changed.”

“After SARS came the special packages and deals targeting the leisure market so we saw the strange situation that the leisure travelers were perfectly happy to go to places as individuals, but when it came to organizing an incentive, they were afraid to go. So the MICE market halted,” Acunzo said.

Pan Pacific hotels and resorts regional director of sales - western region, Maria Dempsey, said, “In 2004-2005 the corporate meetings will still go ahead but the incentives have been put on hold in Asia especially after we saw the soft target terrorist attacks. It’ll be one to two years before we see them come back.”

Pacific World managing director, Bob Guy, said, “US sales people were back in Asia the week after the outbreak was over and because they lost three months of sales which they have to make up for with meetings and events right up to December. Forget SARS, forget the terrorist attacks - people will come here because the business is here and they are driven by sales opportunities. The corporate meetings will come back first followed by the incentives. However, budgets are still tight.”

So what can companies do to bring back the incentives other than wait and hope? US-based World Incentive Nexus director, Jim Skiba, said, “The groups we bring here are looking for something outside the major cities. So there is an opportunity to twin the city with the countryside or to take them out to secondary destinations.”

Maria Dempsey said, “The promotion and marketing being done by the tourism boards is having an impact in the US. Find ambassadors who know the destinations and find a creative way to market them to people who are not as familiar with your country.” (TTG Asia)

Ministry of Tourism and Sports has reason to celebrate

Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports just had its first birthday. It was created one year ago on October 3rd and the minister, Sontaya Khunpluem, recently told TTG Asia it had been a challenging year, but significant progress had been made, thanks to great co-operation between the public and private sectors. He said the biggest single achievement had been the country’s ability to manage the crises, which had beset the region during the past 12 months.

“I’m impressed by the ability of the industry, under the leadership of the ministry, to not only manage the problems which followed the Bali tragedy, Iraq and SARS, but also to rebound from them so quickly,” he said.

Another achievement has been the successful integration of sports and tourism, two areas which were distinctly separate until the ministry started work in October last year. “The Real Madrid game and the recent Thailand Open Tennis championships are concrete examples of how two previously separate ministries are now working as one,” the minister said.

Sontaya also pointed to closer cooperation with neighboring countries as another of the ministry’s achievements. “I’m particularly pleased with the tactical launch of the Emerald Triangle,” the minister added. (TTG Asia)

New pricing for Finnair

Pricing of Finnish, Scandinavian and European flights will change from the present prices based on rules and restrictions to flight-based pricing determined.

New pricing rules are introduced for all Finnair European flights. You can now combine the flights according to your needs in different price categories. You can depart and return to your destination from different cities. If you adjust your departure times, we’ll offer you a lower price. Off peak flights are less expensive.

The pricing rules are clear and there are only 3 base price categories. Advance purchase is history, excluding the lowest price category on weekday departures. Minimum stay on weekdays is always 3 days but during weekends, same day return is possible. Passengers under 25 and over 65 years have their own special price for one way journeys.

Tourist Class is traditional tourist price category. Charges for this ticket are restricted, but no advance purchase is required. Tourist Special availability is restricted, but price is lower. Happy Hour is the best price for your tourist travel needs. You’ll need to book this ticket a week in advance. No refunds granted.

TAT to concentrate on PATA Travel Mart 2004

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has confirmed that it will skip the Thailand Travel Mart (TTM) next year to concentrate on playing host to PATA Travel Mart (PTM) 2004 in Bangkok.

The annual TTM will continue the following year. The last time the PTM was in Thailand was eight years ago in Phuket, where there were 1,600 delegates. To attract more delegates, the TAT is preparing an extensive and attractively priced pre- and post-tour program.

TAT deputy governor for international marketing, Phornsiri Manoharn, said, “We have waited a long time to host PTM and we will honor the show by skipping TTM for one year. This does not mean that we are never having TTM again, but we want to give our full concentration to PTM.

“The only problem I foresee is that because TTM is heavily subsidized, many of the small and medium sized sellers that participate in it may not be able to afford PTM.

“The TAT will try to do something with PATA to work out a special discount for the local sellers so that they will have a chance to participate in the mart. In any case, even if they can’t afford to, there are many other marts for smaller companies to showcase their products. We will make sure that they don’t miss anything but next year will belong to PATA.”

Thai sellers said they were looking forward to having PTM at their destination and welcoming a more global clientele than what the TTM normally attracts.

Royal Cliff Beach Resort, director of sales, leisure, Victor Kriventsov, said, “TTM is an advantage because it concentrates on my destination. On the other hand it only attracts buyers who are interested in Thailand. PATA attracts a wider variety of buyers who are interested in all of Asia. It is good to merge the two events as it may be possible to attract both sets of buyers and a good benefit for Thailand.” (TTG Asia)