MICEMonkey Plans to Wake Up China's Sleepy Conference Scene
While we’re on the subject of B2B conference service Cvent going on an acquisition spree, it seems a good time to talk about an emerging analogue in China: MICEMonkey (“MICE” stands for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions). Born from Hong Kong’s Cyberport Incubation Program, the five-person company hopes to help build up an infrastructure for the still-emerging conference circuit in China.
In the wake of the Olympics and the Shanghai World Expo, China has been left with a bunch of idle hotels that need crowds to cater to. That means there is plenty of demand on the venue side. The number of conferences are sharply on the rise, too, already amounting to between a quarter and half the number of conferences that take place in the US annually. Chinese especially like to do business face to face, which means conferences are important, and the multitude of governmental departments and agencies provides a ready-made market.
Founder Mimi Vong comes to the startup with strong business credentials, having served as PepsiCo China’s head of digital marketing, and as the Ad:Tech conference’s director of content and marketing for Asia Pacific. A Hong Kong native, she started the company in Shanghai with about $42,000 in funding from the incubator.
Today, China’s conference industry is worth in excess of $150 billion, but it is ripe for digital disruption. Most venue booking and logistics are conducted entirely offline, and there is no central body for a hotel-conference alliance. There are only between 700 and 800 five-star hotels in the country, but, in customary China speed, that number is set to double by the end of the year. Part of the challenge and opportunity for MICEMonkey, then, is building a community.
The site and service is in early beta, which explains why it doesn’t look so hot right now – but that’s also because Chinese, for some inexplicable reason, preferred cluttered websites. Web 2.0 sharing and review features are coming soon. MICEMonkey covers 18 of China’s 31 provinces. The company is now seeking early-stage funding.
Cvent has shown it is keen to move into mobile and the consumer market. If it still has money to burn and is thinking about China, I know where it can start looking.