Iloilo shines, and ICCA apes steal spotlight at MICE News Philippines Awards

Visayan events hub wins two of 10 prizes and Madrid Fusion Manila congress impresses, but Sarawak’s orangutans earn acclaim for swinging event publicity to a new level in Asia, writes William Wadsworth



ILOILO won two of the 10 categories in the Second MICE News Philippines Awards, which were tweeted live from Dasmariñas, Cavite, this evening. In an 11-minute ceremony, the historic Visayan events hub won Best MICE City of 2016, on account of its new hotel and convention center infrastructure (right); fine tourism attractions, and its people’s enthusiasm for events.

Iloilo-based Safesat also scooped this website’s Best Event Technology 2016 award for its GPS-tracking smartphone app at last March’s Iloilo Bike Festival (right). The technology enabled the event’s organizers to know the location of every app user at the 3,000-rider event, and made participants feel safer. Such apps could also be used across the MICE sector, from marathons and active sports events to association conventions on cruiseships’ ports of call.

Madrid Fusion Manila was Best Conference 2016. Its organizers, the Philippine Association of Convention/Exhibition Organizers (PACEOS) made the best use of the SMX Convention Center’s space for the three-day event.  The 14-presentation congress (left) seemed thoughtfully curated for foodies as well as chefs, and was held alongside 15 popular seminars at the Spanish Pavilion; 12 food-tunnel presentations and 12 tasting seminars. There were over 90 exhibitors and a strongly diverse Flavors of the Philippines space for regional food. Organizers also had to work with 17 sponsors and 11 mainly academic and industry-based supporting organizations at the event. The conference’s 100-page, A5-sized delegate handbook was informative and well-produced. This year’s third Madrid Fusion Manila is on April 6-8.

The Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) was named Best Association 2016, for keeping its 400 member companies bonded with trade news and association events via an excellent newsletter and website. Big on professionalization and governance, the communicative “pulse and voice” of Philippine retailing also runs lots of seminars and stages imaginative competitions for retailers and store designers. The PRA also keeps its messages fresh – like a shop window. It also shows other associations how to integrate potential members and sponsors to its many events, simply by talking to them and finding out their needs. PRA vice-chair Ma. Alegria “Bing” Sibal-Limjoco, was also named “Association Board Member of the Year” in the The Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives’ 2016 Ang Susi Awards.

Manila FAME‘s April 21-24 event was Best Exhibition 2016. The arty, colourful and richly textured show presents Philippine crafts for the home, holiday and fashion sectors, and is organized in April and October by the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), the export promotions arm of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The spring event stood out with a buyer-friendly, boutique-like vibe among 250 stands. The World Trade Center Metro Manila’s light and airy space also encouraged 6,700 visitors to browse over some exquisite Philippine arts and crafts. The event tech worked well; floor staff were friendly. CITEM seemed attentive to foreign buyers, with a show app, a new Manila FAME Connect online business-matching system – and a raffle for a holiday for two in Donsol, Sorsogon, which was won by an Aussie. Manila FAME coincided with Design Week Philippines and incorporated the DTI’s two-day Slingshot Philippines 2016, the National Summit on Startups and Innovation, which also drew 50 speakers and 577 delegates at the Philippine Trade Training Center, in Pasay City. Manila FAME also reminds Philippine organizers how to expand an event’s potential audience. CITEM also made strategic links for Manila FAME with the United Architects of the Philippines and the big CONEX 2016 building and construction exhibition, which ran at the same time at the SMX Convention Center, Manila. Such alliances increase event interest, and enable exhibition visitors to justify their trips out of the office.

World Trade Center Metro Manila (WTCMM) won Best Exhibition Venue 2016, and for the second year in a row. SMX Convention Center hosted Routes Asia well, but WTCMM wins because (a) it is affiliated with the New York-based World Trade Centers Association; (b) its counter staff seemed more helpful. The Manila International Auto (right) showcased the over 30,000 square meters of its indoor and outdoor space, with well-marked visitor-flow directions and knowlegable floor staff. However, Philippine exhibition centers still seem to have a “build it and they will come” approach to branding. They must step up their trade publicity beyond Tweets and Facebook posts if they seriously wish to match more energetic international counterparts in Seoul, Singapore and Sarawak.

The Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) (right) easily won its second Best Convention Center 2016 award, this year. An historic arts and culture space in its own right, the PICC is the internationally competitive “Heart of Philippine MICE”, and with facilities and staff used to serving heads of state and business leaders. One of the top venues in Asia, it has recently been the choice of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives’ annual conference; the 22nd ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting; the Securities and Exchange Commission’s 80th anniversary celebrations,  the Philippine Marketing Association’s 37th annual Agora Awards, and the Digital Congress – the Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX) Asia Pacific 2016.

Best Events Organiser 2016 was Ex-link Management and Marketing Services Corporation. This publicity minded Pasig-based company has run many fine events on several new-economy themes, and at many exhibition centers. Its Philippine Marketing Association Summer Expo in March looked well-promoted, organised and busy at Makati’s Glorietta Activity Center. It also organised at least two tourism, lifestyle and business expos, and a Rotary Job and Business Fair at the same venue. Ex-Link has also been busy in Mandaluyong, at SM Megamall, Megatrade Hall 2, with Mega Summer Expo 2017 and PBEX 2017: 8th Philippine Business and Entrepreneurs’ Expo. The company also organized Customer Love Fest 2016 at the New World Makati Hotel  and the Digital Asia Expo and Conference at the SMX Convention Center, Manila. Its blog also has lots of useful trade tips for students and events professionals. The website also reveals #eventsprofs’ insights into the Philippine MICE industry’s growth.

There are newer hotels in Manila, but this website prefers properties with fully trained meeting-room staff, and a proven record of holding prestigious events. Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila was Best MICE Hotel 2016, thanks to the quality of its guest relations, the diversity of its trade and private events, and its proximity to the World Trade Center Metro Manila and the Philippine International Convention Center. However, too many Philippine hotels have an old problem: they organise beautiful events – but often forget to tell the MICE world what they have done.

Finally,  ICCA’s #RoadtoSarawak campaign won Best MICE Publicity 2016. This award encourages the Philippine MICE community to tell its stories. The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) publicised its 2016 ICCA Congress in Kuching, in Malaysia by inviting its 1,000 members worldwide to adopt Sarawak orangutans at big MICE events such as IBTM in Barcelona, IMEX in Frankfurt, AIME in Melbourne and IT&CM in Shanghai.  The orangutans’ message was unbeatably heart-rending. And the lovable Sarawak “princess” Tingsan (right) stole MICE News Philippines’ awards limelight.

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