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11 September 2019

MICE Tourism Reinvents Itself

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MICE tourism is adapting to new realities such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, social networks, and collaborative events in singular surroundings. This trend will boost the turnover from business meeting travel in Spain, which will rise from the current €12,500 million to €15,600 million in 2025, with a growth of 22% over this period. Experts from GEBTA, Willis Towers Watson, EAE Business School and ESIC discussed new trends in MICE travel.

Marcel Forns, general manager of GEBTA (Guild of European Business Travel Agents), said that “MICE tourism (meetings, incentives, congresses and exhibitions) will significantly increase its share of total business travel spending, from 20% today to 30% by 2025.” And, according to Forns, this trend “will be closely linked to the process digitalisation, improving searches, efficiency and optimisation.

Forns explained that a survey by GEBTA and Braintrust reveals a scenario in which artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, big data and virtual reality combine with a new type of traveller who is very different from current ones. Also, increasing the use of new technologies for designing and managing events will make them more efficient and will allow better monitoring, agenda sharing and obtaining relevant data after the event.

But, as well as digitalisation, there will be physical changes, because the new business travellers are people who need spaces to socialise and meet up, for example, through networking, and these trends will be linked to sustainability (such as renewable tableware in catering, local produce, natural light) and the generation of unique experiences.


For Jesús Charlán, professor at the ESIC business school, trends in business travel are linked to the development of digitalisation, “which will help us plan, manage and organise any type of trip.” This expert pointed out that new developments such as “online fair integrators, video streaming, augmented reality and telecommunications will increase the possibilities for matching supply with demand, opening up many opportunities for the sector.”

To take advantage of these numerous technologies, Ángel Barbero, professor at EAE Business School, recommended carrying out, first of all, “research to find out what new experiences are being offered to companies and travellers, also taking into account the moments before and after trips, meetings and events.” “The trend,” he pointed out, “is to try out new technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality, IoT, and so on, but considering first what you want to achieve and how you can improve the traveller’s experience, and then identifying what technologies can contribute to it.”

Undoubtedly, the future of MICE tourism will go hand in hand with digitalisation, but it will also depend on other factors. Juan Carlos Tárraga, deputy general manager at Willis Towers Watson, warned that “there are very significant strategic challenges for this kind of travel such as geopolitical risks, which constitute a web of threats that will endanger the operation and growth of this segment.” “For this reason,” he added, “choosing the right location and country, security and prevention will also be key factors to take into account.”

FITUR 2020 will also focus attention on meetings, incentives, congresses and exhibitions tourism, strengthening its FITUR MICE platform which, over two days, will bring together a hundred representatives of meetings tourism providers with 120 qualified buyers from all over the world.