The term "MICE" in the context of travel is an acronym for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions. The MICE market refers to a specialized niche of group tourism dedicated to planning, booking, and facilitating conferences, seminars, and other events, which is a big moneymaker in the travel industry.
The acronym has slowly been falling out of favor in recent years, as some industry professionals hope to move away from the affiliation with rodents. Instead, many now refer to this niche market as the meetings industry or events industry in tourism.
However, using MICE to refer to this industry is useful in that it encompasses every component of this particular travel market. Whether you're looking to organize a group outing for your company's employees (incentive) or you want to organize a big event focused on the latest innovations in your field (conference), MICE travel agents can help you book your itinerary.
MICE travel involves a number of components, and agents working in this field must provide a full range of travel and conference services for large and small groups and events of shorter and longer duration.
Personnel and businesses involved in the MICE market include corporate meeting planners, meetings and convention departments of hotels, conference centers or cruise ships, food and beverage managers, logistics firms, private tour operators and transfer companies, incentive houses, professional trade organizations, tourism boards, tourism trade associations, and travel-selling professionals.
Because of the organization and planning involved, typically, years in advance, MICE travel agencies are usually affiliated with large corporations. Destinations often market themselves as MICE locations and bid for events through their convention and visitor bureaus. They might be able to offer subsidies to attract large events because of the increased revenue the visitors provide through their economic impact on the host location.
The Different Types
When it comes to understanding which type of MICE travel you'll be booking with your agent, it's important to understand the different terms that comprise the acronym. While meeting and conference travel may sound similar, for instance, the slight differences between them will be important when explaining your needs to your agent.
The International Association of Professional Congress Organizers defines a meeting as any number of people coming together in one place for a particular activity, which can be a one-time event or recur regularly. Simply put, meeting travel refers to organizing any number of people for such a meeting, which means it could also include a company sporting trip.
On the other hand, a conference is similar to a meeting in that it is a gathering of people coming together in one place, but conferences usually have specific objectives and exchanges of information. Therefore, conference travel involves organizing itineraries, meetings, and events for people from the same profession or field.
Incentive travel may be one of the harder components of MICE travel to understand since it doesn't necessarily deal with group events. Instead, incentive travel is typically given to employees as a reward. Incentive travel doesn't usually have a business or explicit educational component but instead is more of a non-business vacation with the aim of continued motivation for performance.
At an exhibition, products or services are displayed, and they might be the primary focus of the event, which means that exhibition travel agents are those who organize such showcases. Exhibitions are often included in other conferences and meetings, though, meaning that there is often overlap between agents in these industries. Businesses court new clients and debut their latest offerings at these events.
A number of global events focus on MICE travel, especially the incentive niche, many of which are organized by Questex Travel Group (formerly MEET). Of the annual events, these are some of the most prominent in the industry around the world:
- Global Meeting & Incentive Travel Exchange (GMITE): Formerly known as Incentive Travel Exchange (ITE).
- Latin America Meeting & Incentive Travel Exchange (LAMITE): Working to connect business opportunities in Latin America.
- Annual Singapore MICE Forum (SMF): Organized by SACEOS.
- Caribbean Meeting & Incentive Travel Exchange (CMITE): The island version of the ITE.