Meet the business aiming to become the central inspiration hub, supplier directory and a place to collaborate for event planners and global event professionals.
The UK events sector in 2017 is worth approximately £42bn, according to Eventbrite, when taking into account direct spending by event delegates, attendees and organisers, which has gone up 8% since last year. From the travel and tourism industry perspective, tourist spending significantly contributes to the industry’s total value, having generated $1,401.5bn worldwide in 2016 – a figure expected to grow by 4.5% in 2017 and then by an average of 4.3% p.a. until 2027.
Within that sector, 5% of visitor exports fall into the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) category.
Whilst MICE visitors form only a small fraction of the total number of visitor exports, they spend disproportionately more, accounting for ~11% of total money spent by tourists due to a preference for luxury hotels and fine dining. With this in mind, suppliers such as hotels, airlines and restaurants may consider MICE visitors to be the more desirable customer type. Yet the industry seems to lack a digital solution for both suppliers and event planners to make the most of this market opportunity.
This industry pitfall was identified by micebook, which created an online platform for the increasing number of computer-literate, corporate event planners, agency buyers and freelance event professionals entering the workforce. Designed to fuel inspiration, simplify fact-finding, centralise information storage and facilitate effective networking, micebook believes it is currently the first of its kind to offer a central hub where global event planners can build, share and source MICE information.
Despite currently being in beta, micebook boasts ~4,000 registered customers, including hotel brands Belmond, Shangri-La and Peninsula.
Founder Chetan Shah started the company to address his own frustration as an event planner, having delivered events for blue-chip clients, such BMW, RSA, DELL and IBM, for over 20 years.
SR: What’s your background?
Chetan: I have been in the events sector, operating events and leading teams, for over 20 years, however, I started as a banker with HSBC.
How did you spot the gap in the market micebook is trying to address?
I was leading a team at an East London agency a few years back, and the team were shouting round the office for contact details of a supplier and we were all scrambling around trying to find business cards. I thought, there has to be a better way – but knew it could not just be a directory; it had to deliver more to address the collaboration requirements and other pain points of our industry.
There are some incredible-looking venues listed on the micebook site. Do you by any chance insist on vetting these in person?
Our industry is to help organisations motivate and educate customers and internal audiences, hence the venues and destinations shown will always tend to be high end or very interesting. Through my career I have visited many of these destinations and, by the nature of the industry, we travel to build our education. Unfortunately, we estimate that there is 100,000 suppliers that could be present on micebook, so it would not be possible to visit them all!
What challenges has the business come up against recently?
Our industry is a truly global market, both in terms of the suppliers and buyers, and one key challenge is to scale the content. We are working with third parties to integrate their existing content onto the portal, which will give the event planners great results whatever they search for.
Being an entrepreneur is no easy life and requires you to tackle new challenges on a daily basis. What helps you day-to-day and motivates you to keep going?
Having been in the industry as a user, I know that the current digital solutions being offered fall well short and are uninspiring. Every time we demonstrate the portal to users, we receive such great feedback and we know, if we can deliver the right technology solution, we will be able to fundamentally change the way event planners connect with brands, ideas, destinations and inspirational content. That is what keeps me motivated no matter what the challenges.
Who do you call when the going gets tough?
I call Richard Waddington. He was my original angel investor and is now Chair of micebook. Richard built and sold a global events agency and fully understands the vision from both a digital perspective and also as an agency owner. The ability to house the team’s knowledge will be of huge value.
Do you have any major hobbies? How do these tie in to your professional life? I do love travel and have always done so, which means the industry and passion are tied into one.
What is your vision for micebook’s future?
We have recently been approached by the leading leisure travel trade exhibitor to white-label micebook for their industry after they carried out some customer research. The results showed that the pain points and hence the functionality solution offered by micebook could be very beneficial to this related vertical.
Establishing micebook, exploring other verticals and developing further technology to bring greater benefits to the sector is our goal. This includes a future technology roadmap looking at direct booking and transactional technology.
micebook is currently raising on SyndicateRoom.