How to convince a business tourist to come to Moscow
Moscow hosted the national MICE conference
Your appetite subsides while you’re eating. The World Cup in Russia proved one thing to Russian tourism agencies: we can do anything if we want it badly enough. During the championship, 3.5 million foreigners visited our country. Foreigners were so excited by what they saw and tried here that many of them decided to come again. “It’s nice to go over the results of the World Cup,” said Daria Salamatova, Head of the Department of Congress Activities and New Business Development at World Trade Centre (WTC) Moscow, at the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions) Conference. The WTC built a new hotel in Khovrino for the World Cup, restored two existing hotels, and renovated the Congress hall. All of these hotels were completely full during the World Cup, and the Congress hall hosted important and interesting events, including meetings for local FIFA associations headed by its President Gianni Infantino and stages of the World Cup draw.
According to official data, all hotels in the capital were at 90% capacity on the days World Cup matches were held. There are currently 35 5-star hotels in Moscow, and the World Cup added 15 million rubles to the city budget in just one month. The whole world now knows about Nikolskaya Street in Moscow, because it hosted football fans from all over the world every day of the championship. It’s expected that regular and business tourism volumes in Russia will increase by 20% due to the World Cup.
In Russia, business tourism is a relatively new sphere that is just now starting to develop. “Over the past few years, the MICE industry has gained momentum. In Russia, it’s growing at 6% per year,” said Maksim Fateev, Vice-President of the Russian Federation Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in his opening speech at the MICE Conference, “The MICE industry amounts to about 50 billion euros worldwide. We have a lot of room to grow, because Russia currently accounts for just 1% of this total. And the Russian MICE industry has a lot of potential.” Moscow sets the tone here, as the city hosts a large number of business forums, international exhibitions, and conferences on a near-daily basis. According to international experts, London will be in the lead in the sphere of business tourism in 2019, and Moscow will be in second place. But there are other Russian cities that are also active in the sphere of business tourism, including Saint Petersburg, Ufa, Yekaterinburg, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, and Sochi.
Of course, it’s tougher to attract business tourists than regular tourists. But it’s an effort that pays off in the end, because business tourists bring more money into the city. Here’s how it works. If a businessman likes the place they traveled to for professional reasons, they typically come back with their family or their friends. But how does one incentivize a business person to hold an international conference in Russia, for example? There are three key requirements: security, comfortable living conditions, and interesting ways to spend free time. Because after holding negotiations and meetings, businessmen want to relax – to go to the theatre, bowling, horseback riding, skiing, or have a delicious meal. According to MICE experts, over 30% of the money a business tourist spends during a business trip goes to food and drinks .
Judging by the speechest at the national MICE conference, there is finally an understanding that both regular and business tourism is a serious source of income in Russia. Of course, this happened due to the colossal impact the World Cup had on all aspects of our lives. It’s no wonder that, as of this fall, the Russian Ministry of Economic Development is in charge of tourism. It’s clear what needs to be done. It’s important to rapidly develop infrastructure, to promote Russia throughout the world in smart ways, and to simplify the visa process for both regular and business tourists. In other words, it’s time to convert Russia’s huge tourism potential into action.