Packing a suitcase and catching a plane does not always mean a holiday. Travelling for work is becoming more and more common: company meetings, congresses, fairs, conventions…they all come under the heading of MICE travel, meaning Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions/Events. The Ibtm World fair at the Gran Via site will present the latest news from companies in this sector from 19 to 21 November.

MICE travel generates 20,000 million euros every year and there are many destinations competing to offer travellers a memorable experience. There are a number of added benefits for the cities that can consolidate their reputation as destinations for this type of event: they become associated with key sectors like technology, finance or health and can expects visitors who, according to ICCA, spend more than those who travel for pleasure.

Companies and organizations look for destinations that can surprise travellers, who are usually familiar with digital technology and accustomed to travelling around for work. This means that business trips are becoming more imaginative and seek to make a good impression on visitors.

Current trends in business travel highlight technological innovation, customised trips and the attractions of local culture. By this reckoning, the key aspects for attracting meetings and MICE travellers in greater numbers include:

  • Smart cities and technology: there is no doubt that technological innovation enhances the experience of business travellers. Among other factors, artificial intelligence can read our individual tastes to prepare customised after work activities, making the most of the trip and ensuring that both the visitor and the organizer are satisfied. On the other hand, an optimal destination for companies that arrange business travel and meetings is one that has modern infrastructures and internet connectivity in open spaces. This means that the efforts made to apply technology in urban areas (smart cities) makes some of them stand out and improves aspects such as mobility and energy efficiency.
  • Authenticity and local culture: not everyone has the same interests and a destination can offer many possibilities: sports in the open air, shopping or a walk on the beach. Every city has its strong points and a wide range of aactivities means that visitors can adapt their trips to suit their personal preferences. After the day’s work, business travellers can engage with the local culture and food, see concerts, take guided tours or watch a football match.
  • Sustainability: lenvironmental concerns are an important factor for the sector. This is one reason why ‘smart’ destinations are having more success, driven as they are by the desire to reduce their environmental impact. For example, a city with electric public transport and efficient congress facilities will find it easy to host MICE events, especially if they are related with new technologies.

Barcelona, a city for congresses

According to the annual ICCA report, Barcelona is among the cities that are best positioned: it attracts the world’s largest number of congress visitors. Besides this, thanks to Fira de Barcelona, which organizes more than 150 fairs and congresses and attracts 2.5 million visitors every year, it is consolidating its position as a reference in strategic sectors like technology, medicine and design