Russian Travel Digest interviews Dmitry Lapatin - the founder and the general manager of Global Mice Group. His company runs three most important businesses in MICE industry – a MICE agency, travel marketing, and MICE Connection workshop.
Dmitry, please introduce yourself.
I am working in MICE over 20 years. So I really know the whole MICE market in Russia, including MICE agencies, corporate and business travel companies, and concierge services. I am an expert who knows how everybody and everythimg in the industry is doing. It is for sure.
How has the Mice market changed in the last year?
I would say that the MICE concept has been completely changed. Previous formats have left. Obviously, there are now more online events than offline.
MICE agents used to work with groups over 10 people or requests of certain format. Now the agents accept every request (including weddings, funerals, and birthday parties, as I joke). We`ve started working with FIT tours. So now we fight for every single booking. The border between FIT and MICE has disappeared. This is the trend number one.
Trend number two is the total change in quantity and quality of MICE agencies. Many companies have left the industry, many have quit tourism business in total, many companies have bankrupted. So, MICE market starts from point zero, from the scratch.
How do you estimate the MICE sector now? In comparison to what has been before?
The market has decreased by 50 per cent. In many companies, MICE departments have been disbanded, or reduced by 5 -10 times.
The good news is that market is recovering. Honestly, now we are working 24/7. It seems casuistic, but right now my colleagues have a group of 730 people in Dubai. Our company is receiving a lot of requests to Turkey.
So the new Top – 5 MICE agencies have absolutely different policy. They are not proactive any more, but they are really active. Now we need to suggest clients raising corporate culture, we have to inspire them. Those who are not afraid of working in FIT, who actively promote themselves, who are ready to change offline to online, or create the new format, they stay on the market and come to the Top.
What will be the MICE market in 2021?
According to my previous forecast the recovery had to be by the end of 2021. But now I see that many Russian hoteliers and travel agencies have huge number of requests for this summer and autumn. That is why I`ve changed my forecast. The market should recover by summer 2021. But the market will not be the same any more. The format of MICE events will change. There will be no huge venues, but more board meetings and incentives. Instead of pure offline or online, hybrid format will be the most suitable for everyone. For example, participants from Moscow sit in a conference hall, and from regions take part online.
I`m sure that the requests will come to those who have not stopped and have been active all these months. Those who kept their promotion and advertising. That is why we plan Mice Connection in June, in hybrid format - offline for buyers and exhibitors, and online for those partners who are not able to come personally because of closed borders.
What do you think about outbound tourism in Russia this year?
Russians are in desperate need of travelling abroad. The more destinations are open, the more requests come to these destinations. People are waiting for Greece, Cyprus, and other countries. Tourists miss all these travel-related things, like airports, flights, transfers, and different cuisine. When a destination is open, the Russians will be the first to come. Russians are like Rapid Reaction Force (laughing).
Marina Zatcepina, With more than 15 years experience in Marketing in Tourism Industry, Marina is our expert in promotion on the Russian market. She worked in position of Marketing Director in one of the biggest tour operators in Russia, before to organize in partnership with Natalia Klimenok it's own enterprise. She graduated from Penza State University (Russia) with specialization in Public Relations, and has Master Degree in Russian-English Translation from Kent State University (USA).