AVIATION INTERVIEW WITH DATO’ SRI ABDUL KHANI DAUD
Chief Executive Officer Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB)
Tasked to head MyCEB, a non-profit organisation under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture since 5 February 2020, Dato’ Sri Abdul Khani Daud’s appointment could not have come timelier for the country’s business events industry. Armed with his vast experience in the tourism sector spanning over three decades, he met head-on with the challenges posed by the unprecedented global coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis. As the man put it, “We are not just working from home; we are at home in a crisis trying to work amid a rush of change and, in some cases, despair. Our role is to absorb fear and reassure the business community what is in our control and what we can work on in the present moment.”
Besides being appointed International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Asia Pacific Board of Director (BOD) representative from 2020-2022, he also sits as an advisory BOD member for the Asian Federation of Exhibition and Convention Associations as well as the Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition and Suppliers (MACEOS).
Please share some new ideas you have brought in under your leadership during this tough period for the industry.
As an active bridge between the government and its various ministries for industry players, MyCEB launched the ‘Meet in Malaysia Campaign’ last July to encourage corporates to hold their events and meetings locally besides booking in advance in order to take advantage of the benefits. The campaign encompasses the Let’s Meet Tomorrow and Let’s Meet Locally programmes to woo international audiences and serve the local market respectively.
We also rolled out initiatives like the Tactical Malaysia Twin Deal V, Exhibition Enhancement Package and Homegrown Event Support to boost the market and cushion challenges faced by industry players. Tapping into digitalisation, MyCEB introduced online activities such as the IAPCO webEDGE platform designed for business events industry professionals with relevant conference and meeting experiences. Via this platform, we work together with Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in supporting the International Association of Professional Congress Organiser (IAPCO) to provide focused educational content that will further develop the capabilities of professional conference organisers (PCOs) in Malaysia.
MyCEB successfully held ‘The New Norm in Organising Future Business Events’ competition during the first Movement Control Order. Opened to university students and industry professionals, the competition covered three categories of business events, namely Convention, Exhibition as well as Corporate Meeting and Incentive.
Tell us more about MyCEB’s soon-to-be-launched Malaysia’s Business Events Strategic Marketing Plan 2021-2023.
Expected to be launched in the first quarter of 2021, the plan will emphasise three strategic axes to expand performance, namely optimisation, foresight and competitiveness. It will evaluate critically past strengths and weaknesses by carefully processing internal data in order to formulate future strategies and act on plans among other things.
The plan will be achieved through robust technologically-driven public relations, sales, marketing and communication implementations, innovation and smart partnerships that will boost industry resilience and high-yield economic impact. We envisage benefits beyond tourism and sustainable practices and target to further elevate Malaysia as a preferred business and international sporting events hub in Asia.
What programmes have MyCEB lined up this year to promote business events and tourism?
MyCEB will continue strengthening campaigns and initiatives introduced last year to be aligned with our Malaysia’s Business Events Strategic Marketing Plan 2021-2030. We aim to enhance domestic and international business events whilst assuring the industry’s overall revival in Malaysia. Addressing stakeholders such as PCOs, local associations, event management companies and destination management companies, the Let’s Meet Tomorrow programme, for instance, will strive for collaborations with venues to develop competitive and appealing campaign packages.
How many business events did MyCEB support last year and what was their estimated value in terms of economic benefits?
MyCEB and its industry partners successfully supported 21 business events, which delivered an estimated economic impact of RM186.2 million besides attracting over 44,008 delegates last year.
Malaysia won bids to host international business events until 2030. How many new bids were clinched in 2020 amidst the pandemic and can you furnish some details on these new bids?
MyCEB won 29 bids for conventions, 24 for meetings and incentives and seven for trade exhibitions last year, which will bring in around 90,750 delegates with an estimated economic impact of RM1 billion. Additionally, we have conventions secured up to 2022. They include the 19th Asian Battery Conference and Exhibition 2021, 16th World Federation of Chiropractic Biennial Congress and Asian Mayor’s Summit on Active Living 2022.
MyCEB chalked a new milestone when we recently bid virtually for the regional conference, Asia-Oceanian Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2024, to come to our shore by collaborating with our KESATRIA member and president of Malaysian Association of Rehabilitation Physicians Associate Professor Dr Nazirah Hasnan.
How many business events were cancelled and postponed last year due to the pandemic?
We recorded 75 postponed events and 24 cancellations. Of the 75, 38 of them have been postponed to this year. MyCEB aims to spur the economy back on track by working closely together with industry players and stakeholders.
How do you see the future of online or hybrid conventions and virtual webinars?
Covid-19 has shown the importance of digitalisation as one way to increase resilience, especially for business events. The acceleration of digital and hybrid events is a silver lining shared by all economic sectors. MyCEB’s ability to adapt to new technologies quickly in response to the changing landscape that the pandemic has brought about is crucial.
Digital usage fully implemented during our Meet in Malaysia @ Malaysia Business Events Week last year via a hybrid mode set up onsite and virtual livestream saw 669 attendees. MyCEB plans to implement digitalisation in our upcoming events this year and expects higher engagement. We anticipate other forms of digitalisation at webinars and award ceremonies as well.
What measures have been undertaken to restore confidence in Malaysia’s ability to hold face-to- face business events, also known as Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) under the new norm operating environment?
MyCEB, together with MACEOS and Business Events Council Malaysia, have developed a new MICE industry Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) endorsed by the government to stimulate the resumption of domestic business events. Under the new SOPs, the number of attendees will depend on the venue’s capability and size of the event space to ensure safe social distancing.
As a newly appointed ICCA Asia Pacific BOD representative, how do you plan to elevate Malaysia’s ranking as a preferred business events destination?
My top priority in reopening the business events industry is to undertake a market intelligence study to promote Malaysia as a safe destination that could be used for benchmarking purposes and for regional rotating meeting. MyCEB will continue to formulate and introduce new measures suited to the current situation the country is going through to elevate Malaysia’s ranking in the region.
Ensuring that Malaysia Events Standards will be on par with the ASEAN MICE Venue Standards, Malaysia will adapt the standards set for venues to be suitable for world-class offerings whilst instilling local cultural attributes to the event space. This will allow both tourists and industry stakeholders to immerse themselves experientially in Malaysia.