India is a cradle of the human race, the birthplace of a person’s speech, the blessed mother of history, the grandmother of a beautiful legend and the great grandmother of the cultures and tradition – so said Mark Twain. Our most precious and most interesting materials in the history of man are treasured and valued up in India.India offers a rich and wealthy choices to all its tourists and visitors – snowy high mountain peaks, romantic beaches, tropical rain forests, tiger and lion sanctuaries and zoos, deserts filled with magnificent palaces, historical destinations like the Taj Mahal built in the remembrance of a lover, pilgrim destinations like the Golden Temple.…from busy cosmopolitan cities to tiny towns that seem as ancient as the world itself. India is therefore called the mystic land as it offers wide variety of cultures, history, traditions, hospitality, beauty with modern amenities like deluxe and super luxurious hotels and resorts that would attract the business travellers and the tourists alike.
The Incredible India website defines, “What makes India different from other destinations is the variety of unique experiences that it offers”. This is one land where the ancient and the modern exist together. India has everything that a tourist wants to experience and offers people a complete holiday with both physical and mental charm. India is a country with many returning tourists. Apart from the countless ways that India can attract the world’s attention as the tourist paradise, there also exist dynamic and unique business opportunities because splendid venue for international conferences and conventions compete with other global standards. The beautiful sites, the exotic and the magical, luxurious beaches and adventurous holidays can be defined for pre and post conference tours.
Key features and characteristics of business events
Enchanting and imagining India’s image as a conference destination is also shown through the chains of hotels, providing good international standards in facilities and services, unique business hotels and exotic resorts, with the meeting rooms of distinction, spacious convention and facilities, modern in the futuristic business centers and a wide variety of conference facilities. Business travel is mostly undertaken to complete an official job with csome entertainment and holiday. Twenty percent of all the business trips are for the purpose of attending corporate meetings and conventions. The incentive travel market is the one that has a profound economic impact. The convention industry attracts wealthy visitors and those who make frequent visits to a destination.
Researchers have discovered that MICE travellers stay longer at a destination and spend more time and money than an average traveller. A trend that began several years ago is that business travellers are combining business with pleasure. Spouses and little babies are accompanying their business traveller domestically as well as internationally, and with the available resort activities this means that the visitor will stay for few days longer, in the hope of developing a mini-vacation.
Destination weddings are the newest trend and has gained popularity with elite families from around the globe, considering Udaipur is the primary destination for romantic weddings. The city hosts for about Rupees 30 to 40 multi-million budget weddings per year. For the same, many new hotels have adjusted conference facilities, and the MICE business has also experienced a rise, with the corporate entities who chose the ‘City of Lakes’ for outings, middle-size conferences, training, offsite and as well as corporate events, no doubt that the industry has experienced growth in the MICE traffic. There has been a slow and steady rise of domestic and the inbound corporate travel, which is increasing at a speed as India is improving its infrastructure and has established itself as a high quality MICE destination, says Shashi Razdan, the Director of Sales and the Marketing, South Asia, Golden Tulip Hotels and Resorts.
It requires a lot of hard work and coordination, much more than the tourism industry. Although, planning for tourism also includes a lot many heads yet planning for MICE is much more difficult and complicated. The areas that require a special set of planning are given in following paragraphs.
Venues. The most important aspect is the venue of the meeting, parties, conventions and exhibitions. A large group of destinations do not get much of the business that they want because they do not have those kind of venues that are actually required for MICE business. For holding or hosting any international level of meeting, conferences and exhibitions one has to work seriously and firmly on the type of venues that are available in the following destination. For planning MICE, the industry should first consider:
a) Guessing the number and capacity of the existing venues for meetings, conferences and the exhibitions.
b) Guessing the degree of use for the venues.
c) Establishing expected future demand for the venues.
d) Guessing the adequacy of existing venues to meet the expected demand.
e) Outlining of the serious design faults with the existing venues.
Transport – One of the problems identified by this industry is the transport. This involves not only the ground transport but also the air transport. The main problem is related to the insufficient and the inconvenient and dissatisfying airline’s timetables. Due to the inconvenience caused by the airline’s timetables, India is lagging behind in getting a good account of the MICE tourists. Moreover, the surface transport should also be according to the international standards. This scenario is a little bit problematic for the development of the MICE. Other aspects that need attention at the planning stage in this regard are including selection of the type of the coaches for the road transport, trained drivers and the escorts, etc. Generally, these services are contracted out to the tourism transporters.
Accommodation – MICE is not a seasonal business hence it has to be planned the entire year round. In this regard, accommodation becomes an extremely important criteria. MICE tourists have usually preferred accommodation setups near their meeting or conference or / exhibition centers. Moreover these accommodation units have to be well equipped to handle the business requirements in the sense that they have to be able to meet all the needs of the guests. Moreover, the management has to understand the provision of the special training to their own staff for handling these business travellers and their equipment like the beamers, projectors both movie and overhead.
Other Support Services – There are a lot of variety of services (catering, shopping for material goods, entertainment and others) that is also a constraint for this industry to develop and need to be planned to get to the highest benefit from emerging out of the MICE scenario. Again many upcoming countries are not totally well equipped to give the best of the facilities to the business travellers. Simple aspects like the parking facilities, hoarding boards, mike and sound systems all make for the most successful meetings, conventions and exhibitions or trade shows. This industry has to learn and understand quickly so as to develop into a MICE destination. International MICE tourists can also be made well equipped by giving them good handy information about the climate, dress code, body language, tipping, behaviours, etc.
India as an Emerging MICE Destination – With worldwide great companies trying to get the maximum profit share of the Indian MICE market, Indian players are not too far behind to show the potential within the country, which is developing as an excellent upcoming MICE destination. One of the requisites for this form of tourism is the class convention centers. The Ashok, New Delhi, Hyderabad International Convention Centre, Hyderabad and Le Meridian, Cochin are the future firms in the Indian MICE tourism industry, facilitating Indian and International business meetings as well as conferences.
The slowly and steady increasing inbound traffic has definitely encouraged the Ministry of Tourism to plan and invest in convention centers in India. The government has introduced a policy of the sanction of ₨ 5 crore to every government of state for opening one and only convention Centre. Public Private Partnership (PPP) models have been adopted for constructing of venues, and to brand India as a destination of MICE. Andhra Pradesh Tourism has used this model to build new exotic tourist spots with an investment for worth ₨ 1,000 crores, and states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and West Bengal are no less.
The Union Tourism Ministry, with the help of Finance Ministry has built up 6 MICE centers in India. The facilities at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi are being renovated to be transformed into a modern art exhibition centre and as well as convention complex. Apart from convention and exhibition centers, many organisers choose to host meetings at hotels which contribute to more than 20% of the hotel’s business. With India slowly develop amenities to facilitate and attract business travellers, hotels are providing a variety of MICE facilities while ensuring good brand quality and service. Although hotel properties are ready to expand their reach to the overseas market, the Indian business travellers continue to remain the largest contributors in the segment. Most prominent and noticeable convention destinations have definitely succeeded because of a conscious and continuous effort to develop great infrastructure for the convention business.
Event objectives of a diverse range of clients keeping in view the current trends in hospitality spectrum
Event objectives for a diverse range of clients would be-
a) Comfort – The visitor would like to lap up maximum comfort during the course of the event which also adds up to a kind of entertainment or leisure.
b) Plan – the event has to be planned in such a way so as to offer relaxed atmosphere along with the organisation of the event.
c) Uniqueness – The guest would prefer some uniqueness in their event be it the venue, décor of food & beverage. This uniqueness would be most sought after.
d) More value for money – Each guest would like to derive more bang for the buck and more the value of the evnt as compared to the money spent, more successful is the event.
Some challenges, which need to be overcome by the hospitality sector in organisation of an event are given below.
Transport.- Understanding some of the challenges that operators are facing for conducting MICE within the country, is its large geographical spread which is a hindrance in terms of reach. The lack of connectivity of flights and the bad roads is the main problem which causes hindrance.
Trained manpower – Inadequate sources and lack of English-speaking manpower, limited number of rooms in non-metros, a few licensed guides, and the lack of honesty towards Indian and international tourists—all these show a huge problem when it comes to the inbound MICE. A strong and powerful understanding between these various parties and working hand-in-hand is a pre-requisite for the inbound and the domestic MICE. The wedding segment especially has been increasing and the demand for the hotels has also increased. There has been 20 per cent increase on the year-on-year in the wedding businesses, and within the growth in business travel, the gap between the season and off-seasons has been shrinking quite drastically. MICE-related hotels in Goa are as busy during the monsoons for marriages as they are in the winters with tourism.
Accommodation – Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, Executive Director, HRH Group of Hotels, stated that there aren’t no big standalone MICE venues to organise large get-togethers. Rajasthan too, remains one of the Indian states with very poor air and intra rail connectivity. For the MICE market to grow bigger and bigger, the state needs to think about its policies and work with the industry people. MICE Tourism and business travel who have grown on an average of over 15 per cent over many years. India is in need of adding convention facilities for big as well as small meeting spaces. In addition, in order to seize the current opportunities, newer all-inclusive destinations and MICE hubs must be planned and structured in a futuristic manner along with adequate transportation and trained local persons, who are the backbone of this industry. Ministry of Tourism, together with the Centre needs to rehash and promote India’s image as a premier MICE destination overseas through prominent media and publicity campaigns.
Safety and Security – The most important aspect for which the organisers and government must put strict measures in place for the safety and security of the tourists and its people. The increasing number of criminal cases in India has created an extremely negative impact on the image of India. It will be very difficult to attract MICE business from overseas with a bad image. Hence, it is very important to formulate a sound MICE policy with its enforcement.
The MICE tourism has definitely given all of us a new boost to the tourism industry of the country. Nearly 25 per cent of the inbound tourism is more or less in relation to the MICE or business tourism. During these recent times the falling of a rupee has added to the benefits of the MICE segment in the country as the cost of hosting a business event in India has become a much affordable and cheaper affair than other Asian countries like Singapore or Malaysia. AS of now, India has reached position of 10th largest MICE market of the world. Indians can grab this golden opportunity to develop MICE for longer times to come and benefit themselves.