As a lucrative tourism sector, the meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions (MICE) sector has been significantly affected by crises in recent years, from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, to the SARS and bird flu epidemics, to the tsunami of late 2004. One of the key effects of such crises has been growing safety concerns when it comes to crisis-struck MICE destinations. In turn, this has impacted on both MICE customers’ perceived risk in terms of purchasing MICE products, and their decision to follow through on planned MICE events.
In addition, the MICE sector reveals noticeably differing levels of crisis vulnerability when compared to other tourism sectors; in particular, one of the clear differences lies in the decision making process itself, given that MICE sector buyers sponsor the endusers of MICE products, and are thus heavily liable for the safety of attendees. Not surprisingly, any life-threatening situation in MICE destinations discourages buyers from taking the decision to purchase. In contrast to other tourism sectors where the buyer and end-user are generally one and the same, in MICE tourism customers and consumers remain distinct.
Taken together, both the impacts of crisis and crisis vulnerability suggest that crises can affect business continuity in the MICE sector significantly. In turn, MICE suppliers need to understand the impacts of crisis on tourism demand in the MICE sector, and come to terms with the key factors contributing to crisis vulnerability in order to better cope with, and sustain, their MICE businesses through crisis situations.
To this end, the core aim of this research is to identify the critical success factors responsible for effective crisis management in the MICE sector. To achieve this, this research has developed three research questions, and investigated these questions through qualitative data collection and analysis of thirty-seven in-depth interviews with MICE suppliers in Thailand. The findings of these interviews provide both rich and substantively meaningful understandings of pertinent crisis management issues. More specifically, through detailed analysis of this data, this research examines the impact of crises on tourism demand in the MICE sector; the factors contributing to crisis vulnerability in the sector; and finally, the critical success factors of crisis management as they apply to the sector. In sum, this research achieves its research aims by providing ten critical success factors (CSFs) which organizations need to implement to successfully manage crisis situations.
In summary, the findings of this research provide a contribution to knowledge by highlighting that the characteristics of the MICE product market not only contribute to fragmentation within the MICE sector, but also to both crisis vulnerability and crisis management approaches in a context of MICE tourism. Both the contributions and implications of this research have the potential to contribute to better crisis management in the MICE sector and tourism industry as a whole.