I'm exaggerating. Of course, I'm exaggerating. There are always companies that organise incentives either for their own employees or for their clients. For example, here at Seauton, my own company, we are doing it in six weeks time for our own employees. We thought why not push the boat out, so we're heading to New York. It's a question of swimming against the tide.
Still, over recent years there has been a huge change around. It began with the pharmaceutical industry, which jettisoned anything that could be construed as "pleasure trips", cruises, winter sports and hammocks alike. A good thing for us meeting organisers that the pharmaceutical industry did do that. It kept us safe from much worse.
But others followed. The automotive industry had financial issues, the financial world with its disastrous public image, everyone had their reasons.
In my opinion, there has been a period of catharsis for a while now in our sector. Most of us now mainly deal in words such as being there, return on investment, content, clear goals, vision, change... Palm trees and coconuts with a straw aren't really part of this picture. The market has never been as hungry for well-organised meetings and conferences, in terms of content. Pure incentives do not fit in this picture.
Does this mean that the MICE world is an imaginary world? Or as Martin Sirk, ICCA's top executive put it, he only thinks of small rodents when he hears the word MICE. That there is no such thing as a company that organises Meetings and Incentives and Conferences and Events (or Exhibitions, it's not always clear what the E stands for). That, in fact, there's no such thing as a real MICE business?
It's a difficult question. SEAUTON has already decided to remove the link to incentives from its website. Our customers do not ask for it (any more) and for some clients being associated with cocktails, beaches and sunscreen more than anything creates an issue. Our core business is meetings and conferences, and we respond to this unequivocally.
But, we would not be SEAUTON if we didn't look for creative solutions. The SEAUTON team is always searching for great events and incentives. We still love palm trees, sushi, sashimi, star-rated restaurants, racing over frozen lakes, spotting endangered animals. That is why we have set up a new division, a separate business unit that organises only incentives and events, together with a separate website.
And we are not going to wait for potential clients, we are just going to organise great events ourselves, voilà, BAM. The first SEAUTON event was our winter party in New York, in mid March this year. This will be followed by a summer party in Belgium later in the year.
So, we kind of still are a MICE company. Sorry Martin.