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The financial challenges of MICE business

MiceMaster there is a rat in the mice kitchen

…There’s a RAT in the MICE kitchen


A three day conference, twenty two delegates and Professional Conference Organiser (PCO) management fees of R357, 000!  A rogue PCO being awarded millions in net-commissions a year with a staff quota of five, still asking for additional margin from the corporate. A five star property found to be quoting vastly reduced DCP rates for an executive conference- when challenged it was identified that cheese sandwiches would not suffice- they announced that perhaps their executive DCP rate of R560 would be more appropriate. The problem: recently logged real-cases in the realm of MICE. How? Excessive commissions, mark-ups, management fees and overrides: all too common in the current world of MICE. Corrupted with rogue expenditure, so called preferred arrangements and constant weekend site inspections™, conference business today is ultimately steered by acquaintances and suppliers or close relationships™, which is seldom reported.

To be frank: the current realm of MICE, be it the corporate dealing with the venue or via professional conference organisers, is an uncontrolled nest of rogue procurement habits. MICE, however unregulated, is the most profitable, fastest growing sector of corporate travel business; ironically in an economy where one would think expenditure control was a priority for businesses.

So where does MICE procurement go wrong? The process is flawed. When a secretary, PA or an in-house travel arranger is tasked with organising a conference the original briefing hardly amounts to much more than a dozen email bullet points, inherently giving the suppliers carte blanche. Suppliers then intentionally submit vague quotes, omitting to give detail, which would result in the lowest possible Rand total for the conference. Once the client is contractually hooked, the  grey areas are revealed which entail additional services and charges, that were never specified in the first place.  These extras suddenly bombard the corporate, and is eventually blindly signed off by a supervisor when the frantic corporate organiser needs immediate signage on just another expenditure. The additional costs are never recorded and suddenly neither procurement nor finance know where the millions of Rands which were never originally allocated to the conference went. This flawed practice is fuelled by the corporate’s solitary Travel Management Company (TMC) policies as well as their Self-Booking Tools (SBT) which are pre-programmed with their procurement strategy. The corporate’s MICE approach is more often than not left up to an anonymous’ junior corporate employee to choose which hotel/venue or PCO gets the corporate’s business with no volume-based discount strategy over flights, hotels and car rentals in the corporate travel realm. Again, the supplier merely throws in an arbitrary low quote in order to be awarded the conference.

There are a number of operators who offer products to facilitate the vague MICE enquiry process. They offer fairly comprehensive hotel and venue listings to whom one can write a brief. They also facilitate, free of charge, the delivery and retrieval of said conference quotes. But can they provide such a service to corporates or afford to do so for free? No. These operators mark up the services en route to the corporate and therein lies their slice of cheese. Realistically such venue directories and facilitators do nothing to control the rogue behavioural patterns of South Africa’s MICE industry.

Enter MiceMaster, with the pay-off line: Who Moved My Conference. The first procurement tool designed to rein in costs and save corporates millions of Rands. Designed in conjunction with corporates, hotel groups and PCO’s, the system is unique in its holistic approach. Deployed into the corporate environment, MiceMaster firstly helps companies identify their procurement strategy in order to streamline the process efficiently. The corporate’s preferred suppliers are loaded onto the system, ensuring that anyone using the system to procure conferences is in no way confused as to whom they should be using as part of the corporate’s greater strategy. This is done in terms of primary, secondary and tertiary suppliers from hotel groups, venues, PCO’s, catering and Audio Visual companies, TMC’s, transfer companies and other service providers. The system then guides the corporate user as it assists them to build an accurate brief that suppliers find refreshingly detailed, saving them time and effort in communicating with the organiser to determine their needs via telephone or email.

MiceMaster, as per an airline booking system, runs the user through a sequence of platforms helping them to identify their needs; culminating in an overview or final comprehensive brief which is then ready to be distributed to the company’s preferred suppliers.

MiceMaster can conservatively save corporates over 10% of spend in year one with escalating savings as the procurement strategy takes effect. That is a big chunk of change that any procurement department would like to deliver to the board.

If you are a CEO, MD, Board Member, Shareholder, Chief Procurement Officer or Business Owner and with substantial expenditure on MICE, you need MiceMaster. With MiceMaster, venues and PCO’s who would previously never get the opportunity to quote and pitch to large corporate businesses also get a shot, transparently opening up the market and corporate to new and valued financial prospects. MiceMaster is also for the people at the coal face who slog away organising conference after conference, drowning in emails, phone calls and admin. MiceMaster speeds up processes, reduces admin, increases efficiencies, helps them buy better and become indispensable as a MiceMaster user overnight.

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