In my career before the arts came the MICE industry. For those of you not in the know this is the world of meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions. Since moving away from the sector I have still kept an eye on it from a distance, keen to see how it adopts social media in its practice – after all the business tourism game is a social industry at its very heart.
On the buyer side, within the MICE industry, social media is increasingly being used to engage delegates and increase attendance at events. The Association sector in particularly seem to have embraced the medium to create online networks surrounding their membership and conferences, for example this can be seen in the work of the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.
This social trend seems to be reflected less so over in the supplier side with it appearing that convention bureaus, venues, event management companies etc. are still struggling to get to grips with the opportunities social media presents. One convention bureau trying to realise the potential is Seoul, however the MICE industry’s caution surrounding social media is reflected in the comments of their Deputy Chief of PR and Marketing Communications, Martin Kim;
“There are many who are less than optimistic about the role of social media in the business-to-business based meetings industry.”
[Source: Conference & Incentive Travel]
This is further highlighted by the recent launch of the C&IT Social Media Survey, which is aiming to undercover the how, what and why in regards to event planners use of social networks – to uncover what might be the potential social media ROI for suppliers.
Although not immersed in the industry these days (therefore I stand to be corrected) it seems from suppliers that there is little attempt being made to reach beyond using social media as another channel by which to broadcast a marketing message. Hence here I present three areas where I believe convention bureaus, conference venues and so on are missing out when it comes to social networks;
1) Building relationships / community creation: MICE suppliers can use social channels to position themselves as experts within the sector – creating communities of interest around the key issues for conference buyers – technology, sustainability, income generation for example. In offering this insight for free it raises the awareness of the destination/venue with buyers as a leader within the field.
2) Enhancing delegate experience: Social media has proven to be an effective tool for customer service for a variety of brands including Naked Wines, KLM and Zappos. Destinations and venues have the opportunity to engage conference delegates before and during events to help them orientate with the city they are visiting – with the chance to make a real impact on their stay.
3) Evaluation & Research: Social networking sites not only provide a platform by which to ‘talk’, they also provide a mechanism by which to listen. Conference suppliers and tourism authorities can see how a destination and/or venue is received by delegates by monitoring feedback left on social sites. This intelligence can then by used to identify any areas for improvement. In addition these channels can be used to identify opportunities to attract new events to cities through locating ambassadors and discovering new events.
Image c/o anifan licensed under Creative Commons.
5 Responses to social media and the tip of the m.i.c.e.-berg
A great blog post.
More and more associations are starting to see the huge value social media can offer both for communicating to their own membership as well as engaging with the wider community.
For social media to be used to its full potential a robust social media strategy needs to be built into the fabric of the organisation’s marketing and communications plans. Organisations need to sustain investment in this area to keep up with the expectations of their techno-savvy audiences.
I totally agree that a commitment to social media needs to be deeply embedded within organisations to align with primary business objectives and mission – social shouldn’t sit alone in a silo.
A very thought provoking topic to discuss, its amazing how many industries have embraced social media and yet Business Tourism Businesses (who you would think would be the front runner) has not so far took advantage of this.
Often an issue we come across is the messages are nor consistent enough, a recent survey of organisers showing that very few actually hire a person to just look after their social media. The RCSLT you mentioned in your blog, did indeed hire someone to monitor, control and manage their social media presence and they have had some great input from their members as a result.
Looking forward to your next blog.
Having a dedicated online community manager is great if you can afford it. I appreciate this isn’t feasible for a lot of organisations. In this case it is about knowing your audience, understanding the tools and directing the resources (time/budget) into the most appropriate content and channels. Then monitoring and evaluating this to ensure it is and remains being an effective approach.
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