China opened its borders in 2023 marking a near return to pre-pandemic form for WildChina’s MICE business. As such, WildChina’s Corporate Services team had a busy and fruitful year full of new creative experiences and innovative approaches to MICE. Here are the highlights of our year and what we learned.  

1. A Strong Return to Form  

After the reopening of the country, China welcomed a returning wave of international guests, with business travelers leading the charge. Building on the strong reputation and trust we had built over the years with direct corporate customers and international institutions, and our long-standing relationships with top-tier suppliers across all major cities including Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, WildChina’s Corporate Services team had the privilege of hosting CEOs and board executives from leading luxury, retail, finance and tech companies from all over the world.  

2. Cutting-edge Experiences

As we welcomed the world back, we wanted to offer experiences that went beyond the conventional tourist destinations of the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and the Terracotta Warriors. 

As a company that prides itself on creating experiences that transform lives and provide fresh perspectives, we did just that. For one of our clients, we created a digital program aimed at providing executives with a holistic hands-on experience of China’s tech platforms.  For another client, we designed a thematic retail market program that helped visitors see the new trends of offline retail in China. As part of the experience, we invited macroeconomic experts, consumer retail experts, consultants, and brand executives to share retail industry best practices in China and provide cross-industry insights. And, for yet another client, we created a month-long corporate culture metaverse experience which saw attendance of over 2,000 people from across 8 cities.  

3. Pioneering “Nature as a Mirror” Executive Program

This year, we also launched an innovative experiential leadership program, something that was completely new in China – equestrian leadership. That’s right, horses. By bringing corporate executives out of their busy corporate lives in bustling cities and into natural settings free of distraction, we created an experiential self-awareness and self-discovery program for leaders. The process of grooming, learning to build trust, co-work, and ride horses provided participants with insights into their own leadership and management styles, and inspired changes that would apply to all aspects of their lives.  

4. Cross-border Brand Cooperations

In 2023, WildChina’s expanding presence on Chinese social media, including Little Red Book, along with WildChina founder Mei Zhang’s substantial online following of over one million, led to collaborations with international brands across finance, coffee, luxury cars, and outdoor retailers. We extend our gratitude to our partner brands for their trust and look forward to leveraging our 23 years of global tourism expertise to assist more brands in crafting innovative scenario-based marketing campaigns and strategies in the new year. 

5. Thought Leadership 

During the pandemic years, WildChina held steadfast to its belief that people’s desires and needs for extraordinary experiences will never change. It is with this belief that we fostered resilience and adaptability through the three years, pushing ourselves to find innovative and creative ways around the temporary hurdles that we all faced. As we continued to share our experiences and learnings within our industry, WildChina’s leadership team was invited as guest speakers to industry forums such as the Tourism Summit Forum and the China Convention Industry Conference to share our views with our peers. 

After a lapse of three years, we were happy to return to major international exhibitions in the MICE industry in 2023, including IMEX, IBTM, and ITB, to keep pace with the latest trends from around the world. Although the world’s interest in China is still recovering, we trust that 2024 will be a year to look forward to as visas and flights gradually improve. 

6. Sustainability in Practice 

Sustainability is no longer a mere concept or a buzzword. As part of WildChina’s firm-wide sustainability commitment, we have taken concrete steps to introduce the sustainability mindset to all our staff and partners. Carbon neutrality has become the focal point of our internal activities, where we focus on reducing the usage of plastic, food waste, and paper, and promote the use of recycled materials and “leaving no trace” in our projects. 

WildChina’s Jenny Zhao speaking at the annual Sustainable Travel Alliance summit organized by WWF.

As a member of the WWF Sustainable Travel Alliance, we shared with our members and guests at the Alliance’s 3rd Anniversary Annual Meeting that WildChina has adhered to sustainable travel practices for 23 years, truly integrating local people and local culture into our travel experiences. WildChina’s service philosophy has changed from “customer-centric” to “people-centric”, with a focus on creating life-changing experiences for all.

7. Supporting Local Communities 

“People protect what they love, they love what they understand, and they understand what they are taught.”—Jacques Cousteau 

To truly have an impact on rural revitalization and community engagement, we believe that donations are only the beginning. WildChina, From Our Eyes and Chi Fan for Charity joined forces for a volunteer trip in the stunning mountainous regions of Yunnan Province where the Hani ethnic minority group lives. We aimed to support the ethnic Hani village by helping restore their water system and promote eco-tourism to boost infrastructure and traditional crafts, ensuring that they can preserve their traditions and achieve economic independence.  

Our programs and itineraries in Guizhou, Yunnan, and other places around China pay great attention to gender equality and sensitivity and to promoting local craftsmanship and cultural heritage. We ensure that giving back to the community is an integral part of the experience, whether it be through direct donations or through “voluntourism” work.  

8. Learning the Value of Local Partners in Emergency Situations

In August, while we were operating a program in Ningxia, heavy rain in the area caused a landslide. As a result, we lost contact with everyone on-site: 15 guests, a WildChina staff member, and eight local partner staff members. Our partners in Ningxia notified the police along with our head office about the loss of contact with the group, and our senior management team booked immediate flights from Beijing to Yinchuan to address the situation. Due to the heavy downpour, the local water and electricity lines were cut off and all communications were down. At 1:00 am we regained communications and found the entire group was safe, sheltering in a nearby village.  

While the prior weather forecasts had not reported any warnings for severe rain, the local drivers for our group, who were also the local rescue team and were specifically chosen for their qualifications, felt that the weather was out of the ordinary. They decided to preemptively evacuate the group to a nearby village to ensure the safety of everyone in case of a flash flood or landslide.  

Our learnings from this experience? Never underestimate the value of experience and local knowledge. Our gratitude goes out to our local drivers for listening to their instincts and keeping our team and guests safe in a near-miss situation. 

9. The Biggest Festival in Three Years

On December 28, 2023, we hosted an annual event for our client Amer Sports at the Shanghai Exhibition Center. With our shared love of the outdoors, emphasis on sustainability, protection of nature, and constant innovation, Amer Sports and WildChina speak the same language. WildChina Corporate Services team had the privilege of organizing this prestigious event for 700 people to mark one of the key milestones in the company’s history.  It was our largest event to be organized since the countrywide approval of in-person events, and one that required the hard work of our entire corporate services team, who’d all gathered in Shanghai for the project. We can proudly say that the event was a resounding success! 

10. Continuing Our Mission

Our work provides us with the rare privilege of witnessing the inner workings of organizations and companies from various industries.  

We accompany many in their celebration of achievements and successes.  

We accompany others through changes in the industry, the market, and their own companies, and help find solutions to engage their employees.  

This enormous responsibility and honor often leave us pondering how we can create special experiences that help our customers succeed in this new era of uncertainty and constant change.  

Our mission is to empower people with profound insights into China, the world, and themselves, positioning WildChina as a distinguished thought leader. We want to catalyze transformative experiences and leadership evolution, standing out as a beacon of innovation, excellence, and inspiration in our industry. 

WildChina looks forward to continuing pioneering the industry, inspiring deeper change and growth by creating experiences, and becoming a beacon of innovation, excellence, and inspiration. 

This commitment to our mission has sustained our team through the toughest three years and continues to attract like-minded people to join us. Today, our team has grown to more than 20 talented individuals working to change and pioneer the industry for the better.