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The MICE industry needs to listen to micro-businesses

By: Jonathan Downie    Date: June 25, 2020

I am just out of an excellent C&IT Briefing webinar on the MICE industry after COVID-19. It was informative, energetic and empowering. Sure, one or two speakers could have done with thinking more about the needs of their audience and the importance of a good connection and clear audio but other than than, it was excellent.

One Small Flaw

There was, however, one small flaw and it is a flaw that runs like a crack throughout the MICE industry as a whole. As I wrote in Exhibition World, the MICE industry is loaded heavily against small and micro suppliers.

In addition to being all but ignored (or milked like walking cash-cows) by major events, in favour of big DMCs and corporate with deep pockets, smaller suppliers tend not to get a seat at the table when people are talking about the MICE industry as a whole, despite their importance in it. For their webinar, C&IT magazine chose to pick a selection of speakers from corporates, DMCs, growing tech companies and consultancies.

They all had wonderful perspectives to share but none had experienced the panic experienced by many freelancers and independent suppliers, who may have spent the last quarter desperately trying to keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables. None spoke at any length about the need to support such suppliers and my question on such support went unasked by the host and therefore unanswered by the panel.

It’s a small flaw. It is one that could have gone unnoticed but it is still a flaw and, given that such small and indepedent suppliers are the lifeblood in the industry, it is one that really shouldn’t be repeated.

A Solution

The solution is simple. Organisations doing events on the MICE industry need to ensure that they include not just a cross-section of different parts of the sector but different sizes of entities too. For example, reserving a single seat for an independent supplier or freelancer and holding specific briefings for smaller entities would be a great place to start.

The Future of MICE after COVID-19

All the speakers were correct to point out that the future of the MICE industry requires consumer trust to be rebuilt and for people across the industry to be able to put on immersive, experiential events. They all had wonderful ideas on how to do that and their confidence is almost certainly not misplaced.

C&IT magazine should be applauded for putting on such an incredible event. Next time, us smaller suppliers would like to take a seat at the table too.

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