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Exclusive: Cathay Pacific throws down the MICE gauntlet

In the wake of the news that Virgin Atlantic is pulling out of Sydney, SPICENEWS spoke to Cathay Pacific National Manager Corporate, Richard Jones about the carrier’s plans for the year ahead.

Cathay Pacific: ‘Service from the heart’

Jones said, “We will have a continued focus on business class and premium economy class for the MICE market. We only really started heavily focussing on MICE last year and since then, we have experienced triple digit growth in this sector. The pattern we are seeing is that a lot of SMEs are upgrading from economy to premium economy, while corporate bookers tend towards business class.

“The difference is the flatbeds – business class offers more onboard real estate. The meal service is very similar. Both business and premium economy class guests receive Champagne on arrival.”

In terms of Cathay’s key selling point out of Australia, Jones said that it comes down to coordinated arrival times into Hong Kong. “We fly out of all key ports in Australia and these flights have similar arrival times into Hong Kong. This is a huge benefit when you’re trying to coordinate a group.”

Cathay’s customer service focus extends even further for MICE groups, with the carrier able to offer branded menus, head rest covers and even go so far as to get the captain to make special announcements. Jones said, “Everything is up for discussion. We’re really flexible when it comes to tailoring on-board experiences.”

Key messages for MICE bookers in the coming year are that Cathay is now flying in Siam Riep in Cambodia, as well as four times per week into Male in The Maldives. Cathay and its affiliate carrier Dragon Air now fly into 22 destinations in mainland China including super cities Nanjing and Chongqing.

Jones is urging bookers to consider adding on Macau when they’re organising Hong Kong itineraries. He said, “For the sake of a 50 minute ferry ride, visitors can experience two cities.

 “These days international travel is an extremely competitive option; it’s not that more than domestic and groups will get so much more out of it.”