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How technology will lift business travel recovery

prideinn

PrideInn Paradise Beach Resort Convention Centre and Spa in Shanzu, Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • Covid-19 had brought the entire tourism ecosystem, including MICE to a standstill.
  • UN World Tourism Organisation predicts that the overall tourism volumes could contract by 80 per cent in 2021.
  • Industry stakeholders assert that some segments of the sector are particularly vulnerable and could face irreversible damage.

Meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) travel is crucial to the Kenya tourism segment and a key driver of economic, intellectual, and cultural growth.

Covid-19 had brought the entire tourism ecosystem, including MICE to a standstill. UN World Tourism Organisation predicts that the overall tourism volumes could contract by 80 per cent in 2021. Industry stakeholders assert that some segments of the sector are particularly vulnerable and could face irreversible damage. Others, with prudent interventions, could weather the storm.

Understandably, industry players in Kenya are itching to resume MICE activities with safe travel made possible as well as the discovery of Covid-19 vaccine. But the ecosystem is fragile.

Local destinations will need to carefully align their strategies to the recovery outlook of MICE sub-sectors. Not all sub-sectors will recover, and the rate and pace of recovery will be uneven.

From a purely quantitative point of view, according to current knowledge, the recovery of the MICE market will extend beyond 2021.

However, a qualitative structural change in the market has already begun.

The digital transformation and the megatrend of sustainability are creating innovative concepts.

The trend towards hybrid and spatially distributed events will continue to grow.

People will return to face-to-face events, but in most cases, these will be expanded virtually and thus open to larger communities.

And many providers of conference and congress venues are already reacting accordingly. Event centres, conference hotels and event locations have invested in technology for hybrid or digital formats due to the pandemic. The other half was already equipped with it.

The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated these changes.

A prime example of this is the trend towards hybrid and digital events, which require the development of sustainable and innovative event formats, services and business model.

Innovation is more important than ever for the design of a sustainable event landscape in the MICE market. The entire innovation process aims to analyse the challenges of the outlined change, use scenarios for real, to develop hybrid and virtual meetings, and thus make a contribution to securing Kenya’s excellent position as a meeting and congress venue in the long- term.

Due to its cross-cutting economic nature and deep social footprint, tourism is uniquely positioned to help societies and communities affected to return to growth and stability.

Over the years, the sector has consistently proven its resilience and its ability not only to bounce back. However, this depends on adequate political support.

Unprecedented times need well-thought solutions, but there’s an easy fix. And the response will need to be tailored for each destination. However, it’s clear that getting our story out clearly and as early as possible is crucial.

Encouraging visitors and investors to return to our cities is key to regaining our economic footing, and to do that, we need to inspire trust in the strength of our place and our community.