Business Proposal: Mice Marketing Proposal

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Mice Marketing Proposal

The acronym MICE refers to "meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions" and the city of Zurich is interested in promoting itself more aggressively as a center for MICE events in Europe. This proposal will outline some of the external market characteristics of the Zurich area to narrow down a target market. A promotions strategy will be drawn up for Zurich as well in this paper. Lastly, the results and conclusions from the research will be outlined. The MICE event that Zurich wants to specifically focus on is going to be internal meetings, as Zurich feels that it has a lot of advantages in attracting firms to come to the city to hold important meetings and internal retreats.

Internal meetings are an important component of the MICE mix. For many companies, the value of internal meetings can be overlooked. Yet, there are many situations where a company needs to bring together disparate internal groups in order to pursue a common goal. This can be introducing new initiatives and technologies (Dragoon, 2004) or it can be meetings to discuss aspects of strategy. In either case, the city needs to market itself to corporations to outline the value of holding those meetings in Zurich.

Marketing a meeting can be challenging for firms. The company must first have a clear sense of purpose in order attract and engage meeting participants. The meeting must have the right internal customers and all parties should understand the purpose of the meeting. Surveys have indicated that for the meeting attendees, the most important aspects of the meeting are the "promise of education and networking," with the destination being a lower priority (Wierzgac, 2002). This poses a challenge for a city like Zurich in that the destination needs to become an attraction for the meeting organizers, if not the participants themselves.

Zurich

As a location, Zurich has a number of unique features. Zurich routinely tops lists of world cities for livability and as places for expatriate workers to be assigned (Cowan, 2009). The city has been specifically cited for its public transport, safety, education, entertainment and its relationships with small and medium-sized enterprises. As the banking capital of Switzerland -- and one of the major financial centers of Europe -- Zurich has an attractive business climate. The financial and insurance sector in particular has strong representation, accounting for 20% of the city's workforce. It is home to the Swiss Stock Exchange and is the world's largest gold trading center (USA Today, 2011). Each year, there are over 6500 new companies founded in Zurich, again highlighting the city's strong relationship with small and medium-sized enterprises.

In terms of attracting MICE business, the city's reputation as a financial center and an excellent destination are two main attractions. The cost of living is high in Zurich, so the target market is more likely to come from the international financial sector, with the secondary target market being domestic SMEs. The city has typically had a shortage of hotel rooms, but there are projects in the works to address that problem. Room rates in Zurich are among the ten highest in the world, again pointing to the financial sector as the most likely target market for increased MICE activity (Thiessen, 2011).

Despite the competitive disadvantage in price and high occupancy rates, Zurich is a well-connected transport hub. It is the country's main international hub and home of Swiss International Airlines. As such, it is connected with major financial centers around the world, including New York, Paris, Shanghai, Toronto, London, Dubai, Beijing, Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo, Mumbai and Hong Kong. This means that financial industry firms can easily bring their key employees to Zurich for meetings without any major transportation hassles. Zurich is also well-connected with the rest of Europe by rail.

The city has a well-established MICE infrastructure. There are large nationwide companies in the MICE business as well as small boutique players that can help with niche market events and events for small companies (Conventions.net, 2011). This infrastructure is one of the city's strengths -- without it Zurich would not truly be ready to host internal meetings for companies. In addition, many corporations are able to host their own meetings, as most major banks and insurance companies have representation in Zurich. For the city, this is a strength because of the familiarity with Zurich. Companies are more likely to hold internal meetings in cities where they have people on the ground, and in cities that are important to their global business. Zurich fits that description for most firms in the financial industry.

PR Strategy vs. Media Relations Strategy

The City of Zurich must decide how it wants to promote internal meetings in Zurich to its financial industry target market. The difference between the two is that public relations is focused on the general public while media relations refers to a strategy for dealing with the media (del Monte, 2010). In this case, the decision makers for the target market are remote, often in other countries. Only with the secondary target market of domestic SMEs is there much use for a public relations campaign. The message needs to be received by decision makers in the financial industry no matter where in the world they are located. This means that the media needs to be utilized to deliver the message to the target audience. The city already earns positive media coverage for its livability and the strength of its financial industry. The key for the city is to piggyback the message about MICE onto this positive press. None of the messages that emerge from Zurich to the world at large are focused on the MICE industry -- if anything the city's high prices and high occupancy rates are the only things people would know about this industry in Zurich and those are negative factors.

The media relations strategy needs to focus on two key elements - the MICE message and the media's global reach. The MICE message is simple. Zurich is already renowned as a financial industry center and an excellent city in which to do business. It has a stellar reputation as a city in general. The message needs to emerge that Zurich is a great place for companies to hold their meetings. The media needs to hear this message from Zurich, and the city also needs to support the media in their coverage of Zurich. When stories emerge about the city, there needs to be a specific media contact so that the city can always get its message to the media. Often, there is no direct contact with Zurich representatives when the city is being written about. The media relations campaign should aim to change that. In addition, there should be specific press releases highlighting new hotels, major conferences, and other links between the reputation of Zurich and the suitability of the city for MICE events.

The second element is the global reach. The financial industry is global in nature. The media channels that should be used in the media relations campaign should reflect that. Global news and financial media are already saturated with advertisements for destinations for investment dollars -- on CNN International, BBC World, Deutsche Welt, etc. These outlets are popular reach the global investment community. There are also print publications and websites that target this community as well. These outlets should be the target of the campaign. From a support perspective, an important element to the campaign should be to ensure that these agencies have representation in Zurich. Having people in the media on the ground in Zurich will highlight the relevance of the city and provide more opportunity to Zurich to tell its story to the financial industry. If reporting on Zurich-based events is done from Paris or London or Frankfurt, then Zurich is not going to have a chance to influence the messages about the city.

The advantages of engaging in a media relations campaign are that the city has a better chance to control the messages about the city, and a better chance to ensure that its marketing message finds its way into Zurich-related media coverage. While the audience is geographically-diffused, the media outlets that serve this target market are relatively concentrated. Therefore a media relations campaign is an efficient means of reaching the key people who organize MICE events for financial industry companies. Another advantage is that Zurich should already have a PR or media department. The incremental costs associated with adding one or two staff members to specifically manage a media relations campaign should be relatively small.

There are disadvantages to this approach, however. One key disadvantage is that the media seldom writes about MICE events, so it may be a challenge to manage the message. With other forms of marketing, Zurich would have more direct control over the message, even if the message would reach fewer people. By using a media relations campaign, the message reaches more people but it does so through media intermediaries, and this raises the risk that the message… [END OF PREVIEW]

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