Monaco’s MICE aspirations

Focused marketing campaigns, and heavy investment into carving out new business events venues and meeting spaces, are contributing to Monaco’s business events edge post-lockdown.

Monaco’s main markets may currently be North America and Europe due to the proximity, but that does not stop the principality in looking towards Asia Pacific with keen interest and concrete plans to further develop the inbound business events sector.

The Grimaldi Forum Monaco is the largest convention centre in the French Riviera

Christine Barrabino, head of Monaco Convention Bureau, told TTGmice: “The Asia-Pacific region is an important market for Monaco, particularly for incentives. Main sectors that contribute to incentives programmes from the region are automotive, insurance, banking, electronics, and MLM companies.

“Many countries in South-east Asia are represented, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. Thanks to our representative based in Singapore, we have been increasing our market share in these markets, and look forward to more business events to come. We also hope that China will follow soon.”

To this tune, the Monaco Convention Bureau launched a campaign called ReEvent in 2021, which revolves around six themes – safety, medical, green and sustainability, mobility and connectivity, value, and service. The campaign is a rallying cry and invitation to industry professionals to organise events again in Monaco.

Benoit Badufle, the Singapore-based regional director of the promotion bureau of the Principality of Monaco, told TTGmice: “We are preparing for a very ambitious multi-market fam trip for the MICE segment for end 2022, in partnership with an airline and a major tour operator active in the region.

“We have also started to reconnect in-person with key travel partners in the Asia-Pacific region, and will participate in several major tradeshows such as ILTM Asia, ITB Asia, and IT&CM Asia.”

A red-carpet event organised by Monaco Mediax Events at the Grimaldi Forum

Aside from the software, Monaco’s events hardware is also being expanded.

For example, a new 60,000m2 district was carved out in between the Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo and Place du Casino. Named One Monte-Carlo, a reference to its prime address, it includes a new 1,445m2 conference centre. The largest space is the 301m2 plenary room – an identical reproduction of the legendary Salle des Arts in the former Palais des Beaux-Arts – which can host up to 300 people. There is also a 154m2 amphitheatre with 80 seats.

This new conference centre doubles the space dedicated to business tourism around the Casino square, previously made up of Hotel de Paris, Monte-Carlo and Hotel Hermitage.

These recent additions build onto Monaco’s existing range of extensive meeting facilities comprising hotels like the Le Meridien Beach Plaza Hotel, Fairmont Monte-Carlo, Novotel Monte-Carlo, as well as unique venues like the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco.
Meanwhile, the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco’s flagship convention and cultural centre, is currently undergoing an expansion from 35,000m2 to 41,000m2.

Communications director of the Grimaldi Forum Monaco, Dany Rubrecht, posits that with this expansion, the venue will be “more attractive than ever” as it can host “larger events”, helping to build on Monaco’s appeal.

The new spaces include the 1,031m2 Galerie Diaghilev that can accommodate around 40 exhibition stands; the Carré and Salles du Patio which can be divided into eight meeting rooms; and the 3,980m2 Hall Pinède that can hold 1,650 pax for a sit-down dinner.

In order to take advantage Monaco’s 300 days of sunshine per year, 2,000m2 of outdoor space will also be created. These include the 100m2 Indigo terrace; the 585m2 Ravel terrace with a view of the open sea; and the 610m2 Parvis Émeraude, where the extension’s independent entrance will be located.

This massive undertaking sits within Mareterra, Monaco’s newest district currently under construction.

The six-hectare eco-district will offer housing, facilities, an entertainment harbour with pedestrian quays, a park, and a shaded coastal promenade. The eco-district will be powered by 1,500 solar modules that were installed on the Grimaldi Forum’s roof in 2019.

And though other international tradeshows and exhibitions have picked up, Rubrecht said: “We are fully open to Asian markets, but we don’t have recurring clients from this region yet. We once worked with a major IT company from South Korea, and hope to work with them again in the near future.”

Pierre Oudine of Raising Stones Monaco, has set his sights on the Asian market, stating that it has “great potential”.

Oudine elaborated: “Asia remains a focal point. We have just rehired some new collaborators, and we are investing again. In terms of development, Asia will once again become a priority next year.

But first, Oudine shared that DMCs like themselves have to “ride on the current wave of American, French, English and German markets” to rebuild their cash flow. The supply chain also has to be rebuilt, for “many operators have disappeared”.

Overall, Monaco’s image has not been dampened by the pandemic, as the destination handled the Covid situation well and only experienced one lockdown from March to July 2020.

For 2022, Rubrecht said that the year “got off to a good start”, as Grimaldi’s calendar is filled with more than 50 business events that will take place by end-2022.

“Monaco remains a unique destination for MICE. Our know-how, balanced with Monaco’s assets, gives us a real advantage,” opined Rubrecht.