Another Viewpoint

Business Events or MICE/ The debate continues

by Padraic Gilligan, Managing Partner, SoolNua

In January 2014 I posted on Padraicino about MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Events/Exhibitions) and how it appeared to have crept back as a key term to describe what is variously known as The Meetings Industry, The Conference and Incentive Industry, Business Tourism etc. Since then I have used the term consistently across all Social Media in an effort to “test” reactions and, truth be known, get over my own distaste for the term. I received a nice note from Michel Couturier of MCInternational (and Chiar of the Marketing Task Force at PCMA) which I reproduce below, along with my response.

Hi Padraic,
Always a pleasure reading your blog and articles but my teeth always cringe when I read MICE. Such a 90’s term, so passé, so no longer relevant to our industry. We want to raise the profile of our economic sector, we preach the importance of branding, we fight for a seat at the table, and yet the term MICE and all it’s negative connotations is being used. The Australian got it a long time ago and have adopted “Business Events”. Let’s use it and let’s “BE”! Hope you will adopt “BE”, as a leader in our industry show the way to branding, to a seat at the table, to economic growth!  BE it!

All the best, Michel

Dear Michael
Many thanks for reaching out – I really do appreciate the engagement. I’d truly welcome an open debate on this matter as per my blog post in January last – click here I intensely dislike the MICE term myself but haven’t yet been convinced of the comprehensive merits of any other term. Incidentally I dislike the name Beatles too – with all its nasty connotations – but that didn’t prevent John, Paul, George and Ringo from becoming the biggest band in the world!

Business Events is good but Professor John O’Connor, President of the European Society of Gastro deeply resents the crass commercialisation of his educational conference which typically brings 5000 delegates to European Capital Cities “I don’t do business events”, he says, “I organise educational conferences”.

I’d prefer if our industry could agree on ONE term – even if it’s imperfect – than the present situation where we have The Meetings Industry, The Meetings and Events Industry, The Conference & Incentive Industry, Business Tourism (term used by Irish Tourist Board and others in Europe), Business Events and, God knows, probably some others out there. With such a proliferation of terms it’s a wonder that anyone knows where to seat us at the table – or, indeed, which table to seat us at! I’ve been using the term MICE since January 2014 – provocatively, I must say – and, strangely, the SEO action on my postings has significantly improved! So we may not like the term but it has significant global traction.

Why not convene an open debate at PCMA or ICCA or Site? I’ll gladly come to stir the pot.
Keep in touch! Padraic

I’m grateful to Michel for opening this debate again. If we’re to take that elusive seat at the table we need to represent the entire industry from corporate to institutional, from convention to incentive, from events to small meetings. Our fields of work lie along a broad spectrum but that’s what makes us unique. We must find a term that embraces the entirety of this span so we capture, too, our fullest possible economic contribution. And we must reserve judgment on a term that has immense global traction and “recallablity”. And we must eliminate the musophobia!










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