Where a "no" won’t be accepted - tips for the Chinese MICE market
A look at the increasing number of visitors from China reveals: Berlin is the place to be. More and more, Chinese travellers are making their way to the German capital - and not only as tourists. The Chinese MICE market is also booming and has become the most important long-distance market in Asia for the congress capital.
Robert Luft should know: Since 2014, the Marketing Manager for the Convention Office of visitBerlin has been organising events from the Far East.
He will soon share his expert knowledge in the workshop series China MICE Competence interested partners in the city or like recently on a press trip with China's bigggest MICE magazines - including MICE China, M&C China, and Meetings China. In this interview, he shares some special features of Chinese conventions and gives tips for the Asian market.
China's interest in the Berlin MICE market continues to grow - why?
Until a few years ago, Berlin was in fact barely on the map for Chinese event organisers and tourists. This is changing. On the one hand, this is because of the international appeal of the capital and on the other hand due to developments in China itself. Only ten years ago, very few Chinese people had travel visas. And if they did, they were traditional delegation trips with very selected participants. Interest in foreign MICE markets such as Berlin was correspondingly low - after all, only very few were allowed to travel here anyway. It's different today. The market has become much more open and it's right in the fast lane!
How does that show up?
China is the most important market for us in Asia today. There are many international companies coming to Berlin for trade fairs and congresses as well as incentives. Companies in the pharmaceutical, IT, and electronics industries in particular are striving to come to Berlin for events. One example of many is Huawei: In recent years, the company has been very strongly represented at the International Consumer Electronics Fair (IFA) in the Veledrom.
How do Chinese event organisers see the capital and what do they expect?
Most Chinese event organisers have never been to Berlin before. Unlike event organisers from the UK, for example, who are now looking for niches and locations "off the beaten track", Chinese clients want to see and experience the classics. Accordingly, we start from the beginning when presenting Berlin as an event city. And the choice of location, accommodation, and catering for Chinese customers should also take special interests into account.
Our experience is that venues and hotels with a certain reputation are very important to the Chinese. They should always be something extraordinary and exclusive.
So luxury rather than ‘shabby chic’?
It depends on the wow factor. Castles, houses, with historical architecture, and magnificent buildings such as the Bode Museum are particularly in demand - everything that does not exist in China. But it can also be a special venue like the Stadtbad Oderberger as a typical Berlin location. It should however meet a certain standard. This also applies to the choice of hotel. Five-star hotels are of particular interest here, especially as they generally have the appropriate Chinese expertise.
What intercultural expertise is important?
A large part of it starts with food: This is where you should know your way around. For example, warm or hot water being available everywhere for drinking is very important to the Chinese. A kettle should always be available in the hotel room for water preparation or instant noodles.
Fresh fruit in the room and a warm - preferably Chinese - breakfast are often still expected.
Ideally, there are Chinese-speaking employees in the hotel. This also applies to events and press trips.
Does the language barrier play a major role?
Yes and no. A lot has changed now. More and more Chinese speak English well and their expectations have become less strict and much more open to new things. This is certainly due to the fact that Chinese customers are much younger and more experienced travellers than ten years ago and have already gained intercultural experience. That's why Chinese food is no longer a must and curry sausage is found quite interesting. For the subtleties of personal, intercultural interaction, however, a translator should be consulted and the most important forms of politeness should be known - and maintained.
What is particularly important when it comes to face-to-face contact?
A "no" won’t be accepted! The Chinese will never say they don't like something or can't or don't want to do something.
And that is exactly what they expect from their counterparts. This means that if a Chinese event planner asks for a meal in the Bode Museum and this is not possible, then under no circumstances should you answer with "No, that's not possible". Instead, politely confirm that you will try your best and then perhaps offer something else. This is an important expression of courtesy and appreciation. You should also give them your business cards with two hands while looking them in the eye for a few seconds.
And always smile!
Thanks: We thank Robert Luft for the interview!
Take advantage of the market, location, and event design knowledge of our team! We help you with planning and implementation and introduce you to event partners and experts in our city. Whether you're planning a conference, convention, meeting, or incentive, contact us at convention@visitBerlin.de or start looking for a great location in our Meeting Guide Berlin.
China: Facts, figures, information
- Over 130,000 Chinese guests came to Berlin in 2017 - almost 10% more than in the previous year.
- Overall, the capital counted more than 309,000 overnight stays of Chinese visitors last year. This is an increase of almost 7 %.
- With 20 marketing events, 2 Famtrips, and 13 press trips visitBerlin 2017 was active in the Chinese market.
- Learn more: The visitBerlin Convention Office invites you to two consecutive workshopson 20 September and 10 October 2018 to introduce interested parties to the rapidly growing Chinese market. Click here to register (only in German)!