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Aussie and NZ Planners Eye Shanghai as High-End Incentive Destination

By Ian Neubauer

Shanghai’s blend of cosmopolitan chic and old-world charm makes it an ideal destination for incentive and conference travel, according to Australian and New Zealand event organisers visiting the city next month for a MICE expo.

Event Buddies international relationship manager, Penelope Stewart, who is attending IT&CM China 2009 as a hosted buyer for her Sydney-based destination management company, said Shanghai’s possesses an ‘element of the unknown’ that is appealing to high-end corporate travellers.

“In the corporate world we are seeing a lot of companies cutting budgets for travel. Instead of holding an event for, say, 300 of their employees, they are narrowing down to about 100 executives, so we are very much looking at the high-end of the market,” she said.

“We have a group right now that is trying to decide between Thailand and China and it’s swaying toward China. Everyone has been to Thailand but China still has an element of the unknown.”

Stewart added she would capitalise on the trip by investigating opportunities for Chinese groups looking to visit Australia. “We are going there to see who we can form relationships with and try to get Chinese companies to hold events in Australia. We are perfectly positioned to organise itineraries for them,” she said.

New Zealand-based planner Terri Van Schooten, who is also attending the expo as a hosted buyer for Verve Consulting, voiced similar sentiments.  

“We do things differently and are not necessarily looking for tropical islands and golfing trips,” she said.

“I did an event in Shanghai a couple of years ago and identified huge opportunities to take top end groups up there. I think the city is quite interesting to New Zealanders as it offers such a different experience. It’s an amazing place to visit and a doorstep to the rest of the country.”

Van Schooten added that she would also investigate opportunities to arrange corporate trips and events for Chinese groups in New Zealand and the Pacific region.  

“There are huge opportunities for cross marketing,” she said. “I think the Chinese are fast becoming quite discerning travellers and they will be looking particularly to the Pacific for business conference-type things.”

IT&CM China will take place at Shanghaimart Expo between April 15 and 17. It will feature daily education sessions with eminent speakers, including Australia’s Nigel Collins, social and networking functions and a MICE exhibition.

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