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BALANCING ACT With opportunities within the business events industry precariously poised, Meetings investigates what the future might hold for each pillar of the MICE acronym.


he MICE industry has had a tough year that has been compounded by uncertainty. In South Africa, rapidly changing lockdown regulations are resulting in a stop-start scenario that has left event organisers and marketers facing significant business and planning challenges. Meanwhile, to ensure their survival, suppliers have been forced to streamline their operations to focus on generating revenue from aspects of their business that are still able to successfully function and turn over a profit, or diversify into something new to stay relevant. Unfortunately, all sectors that either bring together crowds or rely on the movement of people in large volumes have been compromised, with the MICE industry being no exception. (See how the live entertainment sector has been impacted on page 18.)

of a screen and have become more open and receptive to sharing their personal lives. It is impossible to work from home without some aspects of this being inadvertently shared with others in attendance – from family dynamics to our choice in decor. While this has ensured our connections are genuine, is it enough? Clearly not, but there are ways and means to remedy this. Top tips for engagement: • Include everyone in the discussion as far as possible. • Have comfort breaks to break up very long sessions. • Make it a point to discuss more general matters and personal well-being. • Break the tedium with light-hearted and inspirational videos.


Meetings are currently the most evolved pillar of the MICE acronym and this is as a result of the technology and infrastructure supporting remote face-to-face experiences already in place prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. This has meant it was only a small step for in-person meetings to fully transition into a digital environment. However, the downside (as many of us experienced during this evolution last year) is that the novelty quickly wore off after we were subjected to one call on top of another, with these unvaried events leaving us fatigued and unexcited. The human brain has a natural tendency to find ways to distract us or procrastinate when there are tasks that leave us underor overstimulated and feeling lacklustre. In sensory terms, it was only a matter of time before boredom set in. For meeting organisers, their job has become far more complicated than finding a suitable venue and arranging refreshments, where attendee inattentiveness and drop-off are real challenges. On the plus side, people are feeling a lot more comfortable in front


Possibly the liveliest part of the MICE acronym, incentives were the fastest growing market within MICE a year ago. From thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime getaways to personalised experiences that left delegates feeling pampered, incentives took centre stage as a means to endearing clients to a brand’s products or services and rewarding staff. A year later, elaborate, all-inclusive experiences are no longer on the cards. But in a world that craves personalisation, incentives haven’t completely fizzled out and are evolving. Gifting during lockdown has also become very popular, and gifting services such as those provided by Box-It&Co strive to create personalised experiences in a meaningful and touching way. Their offering is suited to a range of budgets and occasions, and comes complete with brandable, ecofriendly packaging. Double Dutch SA has taken it one step further to create engaging culinary experiences for delegates who can watch a session and receive ingredients at their homes and cook their own delicious meals using what they have been sent. Including an experience that delivers from a sensory point of

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Meetings January February 2021