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numbers were up across the board. An impressive 300 buyers were at CIBTM with 391 exhibitors, making the appoint- ment schedule close to one-to-one and creating a conducive environment to doing business. However, one message stands out


about China wherever you go and who- ever you speak to. That is service and professionalism. You can build the infra- structure and bring the best people in the world to China to help you, but consist- ent service and professional delivery takes more time, effort and involves education and in many cases, re-education. Hosted buyer, Sharon Leonhardt from


Traveltraits commented: “There are lots of challenges in this market and the only way you can keep guests happy is to micro- manage every aspect of the process. You have to be here to keep on top of things or it all starts to fall down.” Expectations on hospitality also need


to be managed. “The hotels have good facilities but when guests arrive expect- ing North American standards of service for example, they are going to be disap- pointed. We try to manage expectations, but during something like a busy confer- ence, delegates don’t have a lot of patience when things don’t happen as they should,” Leonhardt explained.


CHINA AND ASIA MEETINGS INDUSTRY RESEARCH


Most popular meetings sectors: 1. Pharmaceutical and medical 2. Financial services and banking 3. IT/telecoms/electronics


Events tend to be four days, with a four month lead time and average 167 delegates


Annual events budget for organisations in China is US$504,370


Training and service delivery cited as a main challenge to the industry


The industry research supported the sentiment


with training and service delivery defined as one of the biggest problems to be overcome in the Chinese tourism industry. Sally Greenhill, The Right Solution, who con-


ducted the research, commented: “This came across really strongly in the qualita-


tive aspect of the research and the only way to over- come it is to retain and educate existing personnel, while also motivating young people to join the indus- try. At the moment, many of the best personnel are migrating to better paid careers in other sectors. They need to stem this flow.” Beijing Municipal Commission for Tourism Devel-


opment is aware of the problem and Weijia comments: “Education, training and certification are priorities for us. For education, we think it is very urgent for us to improve MICE management and integrate specialist courses into University programmes. Second, we need to introduce training for staff working already in the travel industry. And lastly, certification is important to follow international standards, so when you bid the clients know they can make use of global standards using the same benchmaarks.”


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