MICE tourism paying off, but specialist skills needed to shield growth

Wednesday February 27 2019

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The Kigali Convention Centre. As Rwanda seeks to establish itself as a quality MICE destination, the government has put in place a number of strategies to satisfy international event organisers who seek luxury conference facilities, one of them being the construction of the Kigali Convention Centre. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA  

RWANDA TODAY
By RWANDA TODAY
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Rwanda’s national meetings, incentives, conferences/ conventions and events/exhibitions (MICE) tourism strategy shows that the country has the potential to become a successful MICE destination and the economic potential of the MICE sector for the country is outstanding.

The MICE industry in Rwanda will be an important driver for the creation of jobs and will help to alleviate poverty. The overall objective is to evoke multiplier effects within different sectors and in different regions in the country.

Yet, Rwanda now risks missing out on the fortunes expected to be gained from the service sector if it doesn’t fix the costly capacity gaps prevalent in the sector, even as the economy becomes increasingly service driven, sector experts have warned.

However, given that the service industry is extremely demanding. It requires an unusual set of skills to succeed in this industry. It is key that the government ensures that people who work in the service sector are well trained to facilitate the growth of MICE as a specialised industry.

While current training in the sector is focused on formal education, the service sector demands a “hands” on approach; unusual set of skills including cultural sensitivity, organisation and communication skills and perhaps more importantly people skills.

The ability to provide a high level of service quality requires the involvement and commitment of human resource at all levels in the service sector.

We know from the private sector that the success of an organisation depends heavily on the quality and competency of its human resources.

Excellent companies recognise that human resources are their number one asset. This is all the more true in the service industry.

Therefore, government agencies have to ensure that members of the private sector working in the service sector adequately train their staff to ensure that they provide better customer care.

While training and skills development must be a continuous process. Service quality is about understanding and meeting customer needs, requirements, and expectations.

The strategy to achieve this is to develop and nurture a close relationship with them through periodic contacts and surveys. Any feedback received should be followed through and acted on.

Service quality not only involves meeting service delivery targets, it also necessitates seeking opportunities to “delight” customers with value-added services that make them feel more satisfied.

To become a MICE hub and thus a model and lighthouse for the entire region and at best across Africa as the MICE strategy envisages, there is an urgent need to focus on improving service delivery.

And since the service sector is essential to our economic growth, it must continuously enhance its productivity and sustain its competitiveness.

For this reason, productivity- and knowledge-driven strategies, a customer-focused management philosophy, and effective applications of information and communications technology are critical to building a productive service sector.

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