MICE in Mauritius

Mauritius Incentive Connection is a consortium created by Connections DMC in Mauritius to offer an exclusive product for the South African MICE market. Eleven major hotels, including most of the international brands present in Mauritius, joined with MIC in August 2011 and they launched the product with a ‘mega party’ on the island with a selection of South African MICE specialists. Nadia Steenkamp, Sales Manager for Mauritius Incentive Connection, took some time to tell Business Traveller Africa about the company.

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Q: What service does the Mauritius Incentive Connection offer?

A: MIC is driven by the MICE team of Connections DMC that co-ordinates and operates all MICE programmes. The MIC hotels provide a diversified and complete product, which can accommodate any kind of demand, be it a small luxury board meeting or a 1,000-delegate conference. Another important member of our consortium is Impact Production, an advanced production company that provides innovative technology to major functions and events on the island.

Q: Do you focus only on the South African market, or are you open to taking business from other countries?

A: At MIC, we are open to business from all the sub-Saharan African countries. We have focused our sales and marketing effort on South Africa until now, but we have handled groups from Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Q: What’s the key to a successful incentive trip?

A: Exceed the client’s expectation each and every time and get a commitment from them on departure to return for their next event. We have clients that have returned to us year after year for seven years. That is very rewarding for the whole team and service providers.

Q: How have clients’ incentive requests changed in the past 10 years?

A: In a few words, less budget, shorter stays, last-minute travel and short lead times for response. Last minute requests, where quotations are required within the hour for groups travelling within a few months, is a new trend that we’ve noticed.

Q: How do you ensure you meet the ‘wow’ factor requirement of most incentive trip requests?

A: The ‘wow’ factor is highly subjective and is according to each client’s imagination and experience. And this is a clear understanding for our MICE team, which will always discuss the group profile with the client to understand the characteristics of the group and their past experiences. This helps us deliver the real ‘wow’ factor, which will touch their emotions and remain a memory forever. Today’s wow factor is not necessarily an expensive event, but could simply be a shared experience with the locals, which would remain forever with the people.

Q: How different is Mauritius than from, say, 10 years ago?

A: Over the last 10 years, Mauritius has seen many developments in terms of the variety of activities to do on the island as well as the choice for accommodation, ranging from hotels to self-catering villas and apartments. The island itself has developed its infrastructure with better roads, better organised shopping areas, more connectivity with wi-fi in all hotels and even in some public areas. But it has also kept its warmth and authenticity with the local population being very friendly and welcoming. And most importantly, it has remained a safe destination.

Q: Your consortium offers four and five-star hotels. Do you believe there’s an opportunity for Mauritius to start developing more ‘budget-friendly’ hotels for the cost-conscious incentive client?

A: Indeed, incentive clients are cost conscious and we are often working on a limited budget. However, based on our experience with the South African market, incentive clients would not book below a four-star property for their group. And this is where MIC is great, as our hotel partners are really flexible and can fit into any kind of budget for cost-conscious clients.

Q: Do you believe there is a misconception that Mauritius is just a beach destination? If so, please explain.

A: Of course, this is a big misconception. Mauritius has so much more to offer than simply the beach. In our programmes, we offer a combination of land and sea activities so that the group can experience the real Mauritius. Fun Drive, where you get off the beaten track, meet with the locals, enjoy culinary discovery in the gardens of an old colonial mansion, make your own bottle of rum with a local expert, lunch in the sugar cane fields around cocktail making with freshly-squeezed sugar cane juice are some of the other experiences we offer, on top of the must-do catamaran cruises and speedboat trips.

Q: Is the Mauritian government actively involved in attracting MICE travel to the island?

A: MICE travel is an important segment for the island. The Incentive Travel Meeting Association regroups all stakeholders actively involved in promoting the destination on the MICE segment, and works together with the Tourist Office to put together marketing actions globally.

Q: What does Mauritius need to do to remain competitive in the global incentive space?

A: The island needs to constantly reinvent itself and remain on top of its game, with the quality on the offer. We are talking about hotels, service, activities, events, theme evenings and, of course, price. Budget is the main issue today and we need to offer value for money, without becoming a cheap destination.