Thailand has the potential to become the Asean hub of Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions), with the country's industry forecast to reach US$12 billion by 2027, buoyed by world-class venues and its multicultural nature, according to global event organiser RX.
The company expects to see more hybrid trade shows in the future, including use of robots at shows.
"The pandemic affected the industry due to the travel restrictions and the government's preventive measures that prohibited physical gatherings. Nevertheless, it led to drastic development in digital technology adoption," Hugh M Jones, chief executive officer of RX, said at METALEX, a machinery exhibition organised by its affiliate RX Tradex at Bitec Bang Na.
"Virtual meetings and events are booming and event technologies have taken centre stage."
He said Thailand has high potential in the Mice industry, particularly the exhibition segment, supported by the rising number of tourists and business activities, good infrastructure, security, safety, a multicultural vibe and readiness of the people.
According to Allied Market Research, the country's Mice industry was valued at $6.93 billion in 2019 and is estimated to reach $12.23 billion by 2027, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.6% from 2021 to 2027.
While the domestic segment accounted for around half of Thailand's Mice industry in 2019, the international segment is projected to see faster growth, registering a CAGR of 22.1% for the period of 2021-27.
Thailand is a business hub in the region with outstanding potential and high capabilities, including investment plans for 12 targeted industries, all of which use the company's services for exhibitions, Mr Jones said.
Technology and innovation are at the forefront of Thailand's potential, while digital event technology plays an important part in the country's exhibitions, he said.
Thai events are even being geared towards net-zero targets, said Mr Jones.
The country's growth can be driven by development of sustainability, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, technology for females (FemTech) and electric vehicle batteries.
RX aims to increase its workforce to support the growing segments, such as FemTech, comic conferences, home decoration, e-sports and sustainability.
"In Thailand, we operate business-to-business exhibitions and will increase business-to-customer and business-to-business-to-customer events," he said.
According to Mr Jones, future exhibitions will embrace more technology, such as hybrid events where people can visit exhibitions from overseas virtually.
Business matching can be done through avatars, while robots can be used to represent humans at physical exhibitions.
In the future, an exhibition's success will be measured by the outcome of business matching rather than the number of participants, he said.
During the pandemic, RX embraced digital events, connecting sellers with buyers through digital space.
In the post-pandemic era, the firm's technology adoption continues, said Mr Jones.
As RX is part of RELX, a global data analytics firm, it can provide exhibitors with insight data, including visitors, sales leads and benchmarks with peers.
RELX has the screening capability to ensure safe in-person events while maintaining necessary sanction compliance, he said.
Citing a report by Research Dive, Mr Jones said the global Mice industry is expected to garner $1.6 trillion between 2021 and 2028, growing from $1 trillion in 2020, driven by acquisitions, partnerships and tech advancement among market players.
The Asia-Pacific Mice industry is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 6.7% by generating revenue of $501 billion during the review period.
Within the global Mice industry, exhibitions are forecast to see the fastest growth, generating revenue of $131 billion by 2028, up from $73.4 billion in 2020, according to the report.