Mice business in Thailand: my Interview with Khun Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, TCEB President

As all my friends and followers know, Thailand is my favorite place in the world and Bangkok my favorite city. I find excuses to visit it as much as I can. In Thailand you can find the best holidays spots ever: the ideal balance of city life and natural wonders, the best food in the world and of course my friends. But Thailand, is much more than this, it is also business: Did you know that The Kingdom of Thailand provides business visitors with MICE solutions to deliver the economic impact they seek in successful business events. Thailand achieved top ranking in ICCA for the most number of meetings for 2 consecutive years, and within the first three-quarters of 2018, received over 900,000 MICE travellers and generating almost 69 million baht in receipts. This is all thanks to the support of TCEB.
Read here all my articles about Bangkok (google translate below the tittle)
With the 86th UFI Congress taking place in Bangkok this year from the 6th to the 9th of November, I interviewed Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya the president of TCEB Khun Chirut has spent his whole career in the MICE & Tourism industry and he to deeply understands the advantages of business in Thailand. That's what he shared with me:

- Which is your goal for the UFI Congress 2019?
TCEB aims to showcase growth opportunities for international trade fairs in Thailand (especially in 10 key industries), and demonstrates Thailand as a central exhibition platform of ASEAN or a platform to access wider market beyond Thailand for overseas organizers, in other words, to show the capacity of Thailand in driving growth through exhibition at the regional level. Moreover, TCEB is creating window of opportunities for Thai organizers to learn international perspectives at UFI Congress and of course to highlight Thailand’s commitment to international trade fair industry through government support and TCEB’s roles. It is also a showcase of a platform to provide necessary knowledge in organizing event of international standard in Thailand.
See in this link the video that TCEB prepared for the UFI Congress 2019.

- What are the plans of TCEB for 2019?
According to the TCEB strategic plan for 2019, we have set 3 key goals:
(1)  To generate revenue and develop the economy with an emphasis on earning revenue from MICE events to boost the national economy. Asian MICE remains the key MICE market while Europe, United States and Oceania are the second-tier market.

  • The TCEB will support event bidding with a focus on regional and international events especially those in the targeted industries following the government's 4.0 policy, namely next-generation automotive, smart electronics, high-income tourism and medical tourism, efficient agriculture and biotechnology, food innovation, robotics, aerospace and logistics, biofuels and biochemicals, medical and healthcare, and digital.
  • In addition, TCEB will organize road shows, sales missions, one-on-one meetings and familiarization trips, upgrade mega events, develop the Thai quality MICE brand in both the domestic and international markets as well as manage digital media to promote sales and image of Thailand's MICE.
  • TCEB has placed importance on a proactive marketing strategy with the aim to win more events, create new events, support event organizing and event bidding as well as promote an image of Thailand as a major destination for the MICE industry in Asia.

(2) To develop MICE industry and capabilities with innovations. The TCEB continuously supports entrepreneurs to receive ISO and Thailand MICE Venue Standard (TMVS) while development of personnel capabilities is promoted through international MICE programs and sustainable MICE management.
The bureau has developed a digital service and supported the organizers in adopting digital technology for the events. Moreover, the bureau is studying the setting up of a One-Stop Service for the MICE industry.
(3) To distribute income and prosperity. The TCEB will upgrade events in MICE Cities; Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Khon Kaen, and promote marketing activities along with road shows in CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam) /GMS (Greater Mekong Sub-region) and SEZ (Special Economic Zone).
In addition, the TCEB is placing great emphasis on co-creation or integration with associations, government agencies and various organizations. This would change the TCEB's role from marketing supporter to facilitator, developer, a leader of creative ideas and business partner in parallel with the development of standards and innovations, as well as supporting MICE operators to increase competitiveness. In addition to maintaining existing strategic partners, the bureau will identify new partners in line with Thailand's MICE industry development strategy based on the global brand campaign "Thailand: Redefine Your Business Events".
In 2019 fiscal year (Oct 2018 – Sep 2019), according to the overall operating plan, the TCEB expects that Thailand will welcome a total of 1,320,000 international MICE visitors, generating revenue of 100.5 billion.

- Which are the most dynamic MICE cities in Thailand?
We have five MICE Cities: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket and Khon Kaen:

  • Bangkok is listed among the world’s top twenty destinations for international conference, Asia’s top five and ASEAN’s top destination (ICCA Ranking) with constant development of MICE infrastructure, facilities and attraction. In 2018, Bangkok has three new five-star hotels adding around 5,500 sqm of new function space to the city, a new high-end shopping and fine dining venue (ICONSIAM) and the city’s highest observation deck or Mahanakhon Skywalk at 314 meters.  Currently Bangkok has 8 convention centers and over 40 convention hotels. Bangkok is actually a city well-versed in sustainability for MICE, being selected as the 2nd ranked Asian city practicing sustainability for meetings and events, according to Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index).
  • Chiang Mai in the north is noted for providing unique “Lanna” culture and ecological setting for events. Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Center (CMECC) has usable space of 60,000 sqm. The main exhibition and convention hall is a large 2-story building with three main services including exhibition halls, convention halls and meeting rooms. 3 interconnected exhibition halls with a combined column free space of 8,000 square meters can accommodate more than 10,000 people. CMECC provides a large convention hall with 1,700 square meters, 29 various modern designed meeting rooms and other supporting facilities. The city also over 10 convention hotels.

What do you consider to be Thailand’s main MICE advantages in comparison with other regions of Southeast Asia? 

  • According to our survey in 20 countries among 690 business travelers, MICE travelers and organizations involved with MICE, Thailand tops the list of all ten preferred destinations. The reasons cited are 1) Basic Requirement: connection hub, international standard accommodation, and great facilities, 2) Delight Factors: great hospitality and delicious local cuisine, and 3) Unique Experience: culture & heritage and abundance of nature. Furthermore, the destination also offers a wide variety of activities beyond MICE, good accessibility to/from destination, endless business opportunities, and the uniqueness.
  • In terms of good accessibility, Thailand serves as an aviation hub of the region with high flight frequency. The current expansion of 6 international airports is a strong sign.
  • To strengthen our leading position in MICE and attract events, we have developed 25 MICE routes in 5 MICE cities (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket and Khon Kaen) under the banner 7 MICE Magnificent Themes focusing on Fascinating History and Culture, Exhilarating Adventures, Treasured Team Building, CSR and Green Meetings, Beach Bliss, Lavish Luxury and Culinary Journeys event. The aim is to enable our clients to have a clear picture of what is ready for them in Thailand since the beginning which we believe will help them produce them a favorable return on time and return on investment.

- How is TCEB helping Thailand to carry out the Government’s ‘Thailand 4.0’ objectives?

  • TCEB is using MICE as a tool to drive this policy by focusing on attracting events in 10 key industries to Thailand and has, thus, designed support schemes for this purpose. For example, we have support schemes for trade fair organizers, both Thai and overseas, support scheme for joint collaboration between Thai and overseas organizers, support scheme to attract more exhibitors and support schemes to attract more trade visitors from ASEAN and Asian region.
  • To attract events in 10 key industries, TCEB has initiated One Ministry, One Event project where TCEB will serve as a co-creator of business opportunities. TCEB will invite and attract events in 10 key industries, by targeting those among world’s top events from overseas, and have them co-located with local events of the same industry to create industrial synergy. The local event will be those under the responsibility of the Thai Ministry in charge of that particular industry. As example so far we have been able to attract The Next Web from the Netherlands to co-locate with Digital Thailand Big Bang of Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society

- Can you explain more about the Exhibition Bidding Fund Programme?
Key aim is to offer market support and access to industries for international trade shows in Thailand:

  • Companies registered in Thailand seeking to bring new or cloned shows to Thailand can apply for marketing activity support as part of the Show Pitching Program. International organizers with an interest in Thailand can in-turn apply for the Site Inspection Program. TCEB, as co-creator, will arrange meetings with government agencies and trade associations in Thailand, familiarizing international organizers with the very industries with which their audiences hope to connect.
  • The third element offers assistance for Thai organizers who would like to merge or form joint projects with international organizers who are committed to launching international exhibitions in the country. Thai organizers that plan to do so can take advantage of a Partnership Support Program, which provides consultancy and due diligence assistance for the formation of joint ventures and other activity associated with mergers & acquisitions.