Interview with S. Ennabli, managing director of the Alice Events agency, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. He gives us an overview of the highlights of the MICE sector over the last twenty years, and the evolution of the DMC business.
How has the events market evolved over the last twenty years?
Overall, the evolution of the Tunisian events market has clearly been considerable. The increase in the number of specialized service providers and their economic achievements bear witness to this.
This evolution is mainly linked to the increase in communication budgets, which is itself linked to the economic growth recorded in several sectors, including mobile telephony, the Internet, banking etc. Events have become a communication tool in their own right and, consequently, a real strategic challenge, not only for multinational corporations, but also for non-governmental organizations, political parties etc.
The events market also owes its evolution to the steady expansion of its range of products and services. The new expectations imposed by the sector’s great sensitivity to the latest trends and events have given rise to a range of new services. These include virtual and hybrid events, recyclable materials, a wide range of security services, digital solutions and much more.
The regular emergence of daring new players offering competitive rates, and the growing creativity of communication agencies have also contributed to the market’s evolution.
However, it is worth noting the decline in the volume of business in the incentive travel category. Twenty years ago, specialized local incoming agencies handled large-scale projects. Tozeur, in particular, was the scene of unforgettable stays for thousands of groups. We’ve lost our competitiveness in this market in the face of fierce competition from other destinations.
It would have been useful to have quantitative data to highlight these changes in the events market. Within the newly-created Tunisia Convention Bureau, we intend to work towards gathering this type of data on the market and assessing its evolution with greater precision.
What about changes in the business itself over the last twenty years?
It’s surprising to see how the range of services offered to clients has evolved over the last twenty years. Tourist services used to account for the bulk of the budget. Profitability came from resale, and differentiation was based on rigor. As budgets have increased and needs have evolved, tourist services have been replaced by a wide range of services, including scenography, audiovisual equipment rental, media coverage, digital and more.
The influence of images has become a priority for clients. The impact recorded on social networks and in the media is now a barometer that measures success.
Awareness of environmental issues and the adoption of CSR by companies have also influenced the profession. Clients demand a responsible attitude from the agencies that work with them. In addition, specifications now insist on the importance of limiting the ecological impact of the event by reducing printing, using recyclable materials, reducing unnecessary expenses associated with travel etc. Professionals must reinvent themselves to offer solutions adapted to environmental issues.
The events industry has evolved over the last twenty years, both in Tunisia and worldwide. Being at the heart of new trends is the profession’s new challenge! To achieve this, it was essential to organize the sector by creating a group such as the Tunisia Convention Bureau. New specialized training and university courses need to be developed, and an attractive infrastructure put in place in a competitive global environment.