We chat to the newest member of the SITE GB Young Leaders Board, Margaret Mann, about the latest incentive trends, what’s new in Thailand and the great work Meeting Industry Meeting Needs does to give back to those in need. Margaret has almost ten years’ experience representing destinations in the UK market, and currently works at MMGY Hills Balfour as UK & Europe Representative for Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau.
You recently won a sponsored membership to join the SITE GB Young Leaders Committee. What made you want to get involved and what are the benefits of being part of SITE?
I wanted to be part of the SITE Young Leaders Committee for two reasons. First, because it is a great opportunity to learn from some of the top talent in the industry. I’ve also benefited from working with some incredible mentors since joining the industry myself and I hope that by being part of this group I can help talented new members of the industry learn and develop new skills.
As the UK and European representative for Thailand Convention Bureau, what does your role involve? And what does a typical day look like?
Every day is different when working with a dynamic destination like Thailand. I act as an extension of the TCEB team, supporting European event planners organising events in Thailand. We are a free and unbiased support system for event planners. The pressure on event planners to know everything about destinations can be immense, and we are here to help. I respond to enquiries, assist with applications for support and connect event planners with partners such as hotels and DMCs. I work closely with our team based in Thailand, so I receive regular updates on what is new and can save planners a lot of time searching.
What are the most exciting new developments in Thailand right now for incentive groups?
As of 1st July, Thailand has dropped all COVID related restrictions for travel. Thailand didn’t stop during the pandemic, and TCEB and our stakeholders have worked with locals to develop new activities that engage directly with local communities. Not only does this ensure authentic experiences for incentive delegates, but it also directly supports local communities.
What types of programmes are incentive groups booking?
Incentive groups are looking at the diversity that Thailand offers. Twin destination itineraries are popular, giving delegates the chance to experience the excitement of a dynamic city like Bangkok but also giving them a feeling of escape at a beach destination like Phuket, Krabi or Khao Lak. Wellness and sustainability are often key elements as well. Many hotels are now offering locally sourced fruit and vegetables through community farm partnerships, and Thailand is a perfect place to relax with Thai massage or nature experiences at the beaches or in the mountains.
As international incentives recover post-pandemic, what changes or trends are you seeing in terms of client demands?
People seem to understand the value of travel and face to face experiences but are balancing it with a more developed concern about the impact events can have on the environment. Clients want to see that their events will positively impact the local economy, especially after the travel industry has faced so much adversity over the last few years. People are looking for meaningful experiences, so content is more important than ever.
You are also involved with Meeting Needs – can you tell us more about what you do for the charity and why Meeting Needs’ work is so important?
I am very lucky to have the opportunity to do the secretariat work for Meeting Needs. Meeting Industry Meeting Needs is a charity founded by leaders in the events industry. Since it was founded, Meeting Needs has raised and distributed more than £1m to support charitable projects in the UK and around the world. I have the privilege to work with event professionals who donate their time (and money) to make a real difference in the lives of those who need it most.
Through its due diligence process, Meeting Needs ensures that funds raised go to small charities that really need support. Each grant goes toward specific projects, and the board aims to choose projects that will make the biggest impact. From supporting survivors of human trafficking and the homeless in the UK to building schools and helping bring laughter to children in refugee camps around the world, the beneficiaries of Meeting Needs are changing lives daily. Thanks to the volunteer board, more than 70% of funds raised go directly to support projects.
What do you most love about working in the events and incentives sector?
I love how many people it brings together from different backgrounds. Everyone I meet has an incredible story and yet we can always find something in common.
When I’m not working, I’m most likely to be…
Out on the trails running. I love the outdoors and the UK has the most incredible network of national trails.