RUSSIA – The figures behind the Russian meetings market
Kim Waddoup (image), organiser of the annual Moscow International MICE Forums, has looked at the state of the Russian MICE market. Generally Russian markets are quite resilient and the MICE sector in Russia is no exception with most professionals anticipating growth in excess of 17% in the next year.
Despite what is widely read in the press, the financial status of many Russian companies is strong, inflation is under control and consumer spending continues to increase. While it is a challenging market, double digit-growth is generally attainable.
With robust sales and positive balance sheets many more Russian companies than ever are looking towards MICE products to ensure competitiveness by attending or organising international meetings and conventions. Incentive tours have become regular events for most companies ensuring loyalty from staff and leading distributors by organising memorable trips to destinations both near and far.
The market has become extremely competitive with larger players consolidating their positions while smaller companies continue to grow in numbers. Specialised round tables (such as the event that took place during the Moscow International MICE Forum in March) are happening more often providing leading industry personalities with the opportunity to discuss the challenges and problems facing their profession.
The market is primarily dominated by the larger Tour Operators with specialised MICE departments. A growing number of companies offering targeted MICE services exist in Russia and a great deal of business is also conducted by smaller agencies. In addition many domestic Event Organisers are now also using their contacts and experience to arrange events abroad. Estimates of who operates the Russian MICE sector are:-
• 37% Large Operators with specialised MICE departments
• 29% Specialised MICE companies
• 24% Small (non-specialised) agencies
• 10% Events organisers
During the Moscow International MICE Forum a poll of 1,300+ professional visitors provided some interesting statistics:
• 37% of those polled organise 10-12 MICE events abroad each year
• 52% organised events with 40-100 participants
• Incentives and Seminars are the most popular MICE events with 66%
• 63% anticipate that clients will increase MICE spending by more than 35%
• 55% said MICE turnover this year will be in the €100,000-500,000 sector
So where do the most Russian MICE Events take place? Turkey is the undisputed champion thanks to facilities, flights, price and the country’s no-visa policy. However more than 70% polled indicated that they are now looking for alternatives. High on the list are Cyprus, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Austria, United Kingdom, Ireland, UAE and Portugal. Favourites for long-haul destinations appear to be Hong Kong, Singapore, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Thailand and Fiji.
With a market that is estimated to be worth more than €500 million annually how can international MICE suppliers tap into this lucrative potential? It’s a challenge as Russia is not an easy market. However with hard work and tenacity to overcome the cultural differences the potential results are excellent. Most Russian MICE groups want the best facilities, memorable events and are prepared to pay for this. The largest hurdle is the Visa situation – be sure you have this under control. Suppliers will often find themselves competing with other destinations rather than local competitors, so ensure that offers are clear and indicate exactly what is most important and what is not included. They don’t like unpleasant surprises! Personal contact is essential and participation at the specialised MICE events in Russia is required.