If you saw 'ICE' and you were expecting an article about crystal methamphetamine, I am sorry to disappoint. However, it's possible the version of ICE I'm talking about is even more exciting (not to mention less hazardous).
ICE is also the abbreviation for the incentive, conference and event industry, which exceeded US$100 billion in spending by major brands in Asia in 2014.
Marketers are turning to incentive travel, corporate meetings, conferences and business events as a more effective tool to motivate, educate and reward consumers, channel partners and employees.
It is fair to say that every dollar moving below the line is increasingly finding its way into the IC&E segment.
Many agencies have acquired skills and revenues in the business events space, but there is a huge and largely untapped opportunity if you grow IC&E project competency further.
The Hong Kong based Incentive Conference & Event Society Asia Pacific (ICESAP) was founded in order to promote the sector, but also to provide education, certification, and agency accreditation, all of which is an opportunity for agencies and their people to grow capabilities and revenues from the IC&E segment.
Whether offered as a stand-alone solution, or part of an overall advertising campaign it is fair to say this is one growth segment that the majority of agencies have yet to fully exploit, or, if you will excuse the pun, the advertising industry is probably only witnessing the tip of the iceberg.
Major IC&E users in Asia including FMCG, pharmaceutical, banking, insurance, automotive, sales networks, IT and telcos are expected to continue to grow IC&E spend by more than 10 per cent annually well past 2020.
The reality of the current buying practice by clients is to choose from a small group of global IC&E agencies; MCI, Uniplan, BI Worldwide, GeorgePJohnson and GrassRoots to name a few.
However the fact is clients often select to use one of the 4,000+ SMEs in the IC&E sector. These SMEs are mostly travel agencies whose former core business has been marginalised by the onset of online travel booking. SMEs who subsequently moved into the IC&E segment often have limited client-management skills, back office infrastructure or the skilled staff necessary to manage the multi-million-dollar projects increasingly seeking a reliable agency team to manage.
I would urge employees and agency principals to embrace the opportunities the IC&E sector has to offer, and certainly to join ICESAP and consider the educational opportunities, individual certification and ultimately participate in the ICESAP Agency Accreditation scheme, which launches in January 2016. Accreditation will see a rationalisation in the current IC&E agency sector, it will certainly open up opportunities for new entrants to join the IC&E sector and profit further as a result.
On 31 August and 1 September the IC&E Society Asia Pacific and CEI Asia (Campaign Asia-Pacific sister publication) will be convening the second annual conference in Hong Kong, one of Asia’s most important commercial hubs and home to hundreds of incentive, conference and event customers, agencies and suppliers. Taking place at the Renaissance Harbour View and Grand Hyatt Hotels, the event includes an action packed conference, opening with an evening reception, followed by Plenary Sessions, Keynote Presentations and an Awards Gala Dinner on 31 August. The conference will close with a morning of educational and practical workshops, designed to link into the ICESAP IC&E Certification programme and brought to you in partnership with BI Worldwide, MCI and Uniplan.
ICESAP is offering Campaign Asia-Pacific readers membership for two years at the one-year price. To receive this discount, click here, choose your membership category, choose the two-year package, and enter the code CAMR241.
Nigel Gaunt is president of the Incentive Conference & Event Society Asia Pacific (ICESAP). He also serves as vice president, global business, at BI Worldwide.