Navigating the Future of Business Events in Malaysia

1st July 2024

During IMEX last May, Boardroom sat down with Azman Haji Tambi Chik, CEO of the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) to discuss the bureau’s strategic vision, sustainability initiatives, international collaborations, and the unique opportunities Malaysia offers to international associations.

Words Remi Deve

Could you share the strategic vision of the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau, especially in the context of the global shifts in the meetings industry?

Our strategic vision at MyCEB is to position Malaysia as a leading destination for meetings and conventions. Given the global shifts in the business events industry, we are focusing on several key areas. Sustainability is a major priority, as event organizers and attendees increasingly value eco-friendly practices. We promote green venues, renewable energy, carbon footprint reduction, and waste reduction and recycling programs.

Innovation and technology integration are also crucial. We are enhancing the event experience with advanced event management systems, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) for immersive experiences, and AI-powered solutions for personalized interactions with attendees. 

Malaysia’s rich cultural heritage and diverse attractions also significantly enhance the appeal of our events. We focus on showcasing Malaysia’s unique cultural experiences, culinary delights, and tourist attractions to attract more international events and delegates. 

Additionally, we have invested in training and capacity-building programs for event organizers, venue operators, and hospitality professionals to maintain high service standards. Programs like the Certified Exhibition Management (CEM) ensure that Malaysia remains a preferred destination for world-class events. Our strategic vision, guided by the Malaysia Business Events Strategic Marketing Plan 2021-2030, aims to adapt, innovate, and collaborate to solidify Malaysia’s position as a leading destination for business events.

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in global business events. What initiatives is the Bureau implementing to promote sustainable practices within the industry in Malaysia?

Sustainability is indeed a key focus for us. Since our establishment in 2011, we’ve been actively engaged in CSR initiatives. These efforts have only intensified since the pandemic, reflecting our commitment to community engagement and environmental stewardship. 

Our MyCSR program has made a significant impact, touching the lives of 395 individuals since its inception in 2018. Recent initiatives include the “Ramadhan Rays of Care,” where we organized a heartfelt initiative at the National Cancer Institute during Ramadan, distributing over 100 gift hampers to cancer patients and medical professionals, fostering a sense of unity and support within the community. 

During the Malaysia Business Events Week (MBEW) 2023, we spearheaded a Blood Donation Drive and a Tree Planting Activity in collaboration with Tourism Selangor and strategic partners. These activities contributed to environmental conservation and aligned with UNSDG and ESG initiatives. 

In conjunction with the Meet in Malaysia @ Malaysia Business Events Week 2022, we also participated in the ‘Lend a Hand’ CSR initiative at Zoo Negara Malaysia. Volunteers engaged in activities such as repainting zoo facilities and welcoming children from Rahoma Darul Fakir, demonstrating our commitment to social, economic, and environmental impacts. 

These initiatives reflect our dedication to promoting sustainability within the business events industry and making a positive impact beyond business gatherings.

Could you discuss any recent or upcoming international collaborations that are significant for Malaysia’s meetings industry? How do these partnerships enhance Malaysia’s position as a premier conference destination?

International collaborations are pivotal to our strategy. Recently, we initiated a trade mission to Jakarta, Indonesia, where we established a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with Asosia Travel Agent Indonesia (ASTINDO). This MoC aims to empower the business events industries in both Malaysia and Indonesia through knowledge exchange and joint marketing efforts. We also engaged in productive dialogues with the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy of Jakarta and the Indonesia Exhibition Companies Association (IECA / ASPERAPI). These discussions emphasized the importance of cross-border collaboration in strengthening regional ties and promoting economic growth. 

Following the success of our Jakarta mission, we extended our efforts to Thailand with a courtesy visit to the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB). The objective was to exchange knowledge and best practices, enhancing local operations and fostering regional unity. We also conducted site visits to prominent convention centers in Bangkok, which provided firsthand experience with state-of-the-art facilities and inspired new ideas for future collaborations. 

These international collaborations align seamlessly with the vision of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture (MOTAC) Malaysia, under the guidance of Minister YB Dato Sri Tiong King Sing. Our commitment to collaborative approaches reflects a shared allegiance to advancing the nation’s business events and tourism sectors.

What unique opportunities do you believe Malaysia offers to international associations?

Malaysia offers several unique opportunities for international associations, making it an attractive destination for hosting events. 

Situated in the heart of Southeast Asia, Malaysia provides access to a diverse and growing market. Our well-connected transportation hubs and modern infrastructure make it easy for delegates from around the world to convene here. Malaysia’s rich cultural heritage and diverse attractions create a unique backdrop for international events. From vibrant urban landscapes to pristine natural attractions, we offer a variety of venues and experiences that can enhance the impact of association meetings and conferences. 

Compared to neighboring countries, Malaysia offers a cost-effective destination for hosting meetings and events. We provide competitive pricing options for accommodation, venue rental, and transportation without compromising on quality, making us an attractive choice for international associations seeking value for money. 

Through these strategic advantages, Malaysia continues to position itself as a premier destination for international business events, offering unique opportunities that enhance the appeal and success of association meetings and conferences.

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