CSR Creativity: The MAD Factor

Several years ago, I had this amazing job working as the MICE Planner & Sales Manager for an international five-star hotel in Hanoi. Some people may have laughed already at my title, but there’s nothing to do with PEST control but all about business-minded travel (MICE stands for Meeting, Incentive, Conference, and Exhibitions). With this job, I’d got to organize important meetings for the world’s largest organizations and official/state visits from top governments to Vietnam.

The main event venues for these types of events are often international hotels, resorts, or convention centers where all their needs are easily addressed. Together with a residential package, these types of events are organized to serve executive managers or sales champions from one or various organizations. As a result, the total cost to organize a MICE conference can either be expensive or very expensive, which makes every participant in the event an important person. I still recall some of our Pre-Conference meetings where I used to get asked “Who are the VIPs of your upcoming MICE group?”. My answer (neither trying to be sarcastic nor impolite) was: “Actually everyone in my group is a VIP, but there is a shortlisted number of the top VVIPs that I would like to bring to your attention”.

Yes, the MICE industry is considered tourism at its finest as this helps bring the top professionals from every sector into an enhanced, tailor-made hospitality setting.

What do I love about being a MICE Manager? You just need to keep developing yourself with a set of skills that sets you up for success. A successful MICE Manager is very often said to be someone who has got ‘the whole package with extensive experience in sales and marketing, revenue management, finance, communications, event planning, negotiations, and creativity. This is the job that literally covers every single revenue generation center in the lodging and tourism industry including accommodation, food, transportation, lifestyles, education, and social activities. My daily work activities were to work with professional conference organizers (PCOs) and various event stakeholders to look after groups of affluent corporate travelers who are willing to spend more on inspired destination meeting experiences. Imagine how much it would mean for the economics of tourism destinations to have MICE tourism as a key strength. This is why the part of closing sales for a MICE group is crucial not only for the hotel business but also for the hotel business and the local economy. More importantly, MICE tourism once successfully delivered would significantly leverage an image of the hospitality and tourism industry offered by the host country.

In this article, I wanted to bring out this case study of this EM Group, one of my favorite MICE groups of all time. I had the opportunity to work with a professional event organizing committee to serve a group of 130 executives and regional managers of the Asia Pacific traveling to Hanoi in 2017. I remembered that the sales negotiation took us 6 months from August 2016 to January 2017. Half a year may not be considered too lengthy for the planning process of a regional MICE conference, but it could be long enough to require any MICE Manager to also have to master the art of calm because the experience of closing a successful deal will be worthwhile. While an average regional MICE Group often generates $30,000-$45,000 for an average duration of 3 days and 2 nights, this EM group helped our hotel generate USD 100,000 (around 2.3 billion Vietnam dong) for 4.5 days of residential conferences, food & beverage services, and outdoor activities in the month of February 2017.

There were many factors that contributed to the success of this group. During the post-event stage, when the organizers and I finally had the chance to sit down for an event de-brief, I asked them the reason that my hotel got chosen to host the event. The leader of the group started with a joke, telling me that: “Well there was no Camellia in other hotels then how could we possibly go with them?“. “I would be glad to take that as a compliment, but seriously, why?” I asked.

Then he said, I’ve always been looking for the MAD factor. MAD stands for “Make-a-difference“.

“Our company has a thing for safety, we always prioritize safety as the most important thing in all situations, and in fact, it is always important. We don’t take risks. However, there’s a thing about playing safe that sometimes we are led to make conservative decisions. For this event, we also would like to see areas where we can improve and go MAD if we can. Your hotel could be able to provide all our needs, as the rest of the other international five-star hotels, but in the end, when there were two hotels that made it to the final selection, your hotel got chosen because you proved to me that you’ve got the MAD factor. Our final test was to ask you to help us to draft out a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) proposal, and you nailed it”. He continued.

CSR was listed as one of the main objectives of this regional meeting. However, the event organizing committee of the company also shared with me that they have gotten tired of going to do gardening and all the things that everybody can come up with. They would like to explore if there are options for things they can do to benefit the local community while they can still have fun.

EM Group CSR Project – February 2017 at Protection Centre 3 in Tay Mo, Ha Noi

I know this wouldn’t worry me so much because I’ve been fortunate to be associated with a number of good industry partners who would be able to do the job. Having said that, I have always been keen on working with Tohe Social Enterprise, a strategic partner in many of my projects that involves creativity and most importantly, creating something meaningful that benefits the society.

Tohe Fun is a social activity of Tohe, specializing in organizing free creative playgrounds of visual arts aimed at children with special circumstances, helping them to be confident, and free to express themselves and develop their creativity.

70,000 painted recycle bottles to decorate a playground for Protection Centre 3 in Tay Mo, Hanoi

Location: Protection Centre 3 – Tay Mo – Ha Noi

Scope of work: To create a lively playground for the children and elderly at the protection center by using 70,000 painted recycled bottles

Date of completion: 27 February 2017

Motto: 100% playful

Organizer: Tohe Social Enterprise

My career journey has been very much associated with the development of Tohe Social Enterprise, I’ve got to know them since 2012, which has now been almost 10 years and I have always been inspired by their playful spirit and dynamic sense of creativity. Little did I know how much this philosophy has become an essential part of my life and career.

Here are some of my favorite words of wisdom taken from the Tòhe Fun Project:

Tohe Fun is a social activity of Tohe Social Enterpirse, specializing in organizing free creative playgrounds of visual arts aimed at children with special circumstances, helping them to be confident, and free to express themselves and develop. develop their creativity.

Pablo Picasso once said: ‘It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child’.

Other world’s greatest artists – Joan Miro, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, or Niki de Saint Phalle… have also painted like a child all their lives.

We believe that every child has a hidden talent that is waiting to be discovered and it is wonderful that adults can through the arts recognize, appreciate and learn from them.

The paintings of our little artists are wonderful works, full of optimism and love of life. Difficulties or deprivations cannot hinder their spirit, their playfulness, and their imagination.

As adults, we tend to form a number of thoughts and views that limit ourselves, limit our behavior to fit certain situations, and get very busy doing all sorts of things.

So we find in children endless inspiration. Children see the world with innocence, see the magic in everything, ask questions, tell us exactly how they feel, and if there is something they enjoy doing, they can repeat it like it’s always fresh.

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