Global CEO visits, large-scale conferences, corporate events and industry seminars are making a comeback, boosting occupancies at top city hotels, as normal flights to global money hubs resume after two consecutive seasons of restricted mobility.
Top hospitality executives said they are seeing a definite uptick in such events after two years, although more could be done to tap the country’s MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) potential.
Vineet Mishra, cluster general manager for Accor and general manager of Pullman and Novotel hotels in Delhi’s Aerocity, said it’s not just company leaders, but delegates from different countries have also been arriving for different ministerial events in India.
“Some of these events were probably planned before the second Covid-19 wave and we see a large pent-up demand. They are happening in medium to large formats, going up to 1,500 delegates. One of the conferences hosted at our hotel last month had attendees from over 60 nations,” he said. “Global business leaders are coming into the country for relationship-building meetings and to assess post-pandemic structures created here. It is still domestic business driving demand, but the mix is changing now.”
India is also hosting the 90th annual general assembly of Interpol in New Delhi this week.
Meera Charnalia, senior vice president and head of MICE at Thomas Cook India, said the company is “very bullish” on the MICE segment.
“We have recently managed a group of 400 delegates for a company in the National Capital Region and would be handling a significant group of 6,000 delegates from across 130 countries, including the UK, the US, Africa, Australia and Singapore, in Mumbai,” she added.
Sanjay Sethi, MD and CEO, Chalet Hotels, said the MICE business has been strong for the past two-and-a-half quarters for the chain. “We have hosted events of up to 1,000 people and it is looking very strong on a pan-India basis,” Sethi said. “We expect international travel to pick up pace November onwards, with new flights connecting India directly to the US.”
Paritosh Ladhani, joint managing director of Sincere Developers, which owns Taj Hotel & Convention Centre in Agra, said the hotel hosted the Globoil conference for edible oil majors in September and also held an orthopedics conference recently.
“Just like leisure travel, the booking window has shortened for the MICE segment too. Many global companies are hosting off-sites and also conferences,” Ladhani said. “We see at least 30 per cent of our revenues in the next quarter coming from the MICE segment.”
Kush Kapoor, CEO of Roseate Hotels & Resorts, said that while leisure travel had picked up pace soon after the first unlock and was subdued only for a month during the second Omicron wave, MICE was a category that remained slow during the past two years.
“However, we have seen an uptick in the last four months, with our Aerocity hotel Roseate House that caters to business travellers hosting many events and conferences. Since most countries do not have travel restrictions, we have seen normalcy return to business travel with global CXOs staying with us,” he added. Rajan Malhotra, the commercial director of Conrad Bengaluru said
most multinational companies and Indian unicorns are spending massively on employee trainings and engagements. “More than 20 per cent of our events are attended by expats as part of the attendee list or as a guest speakers,” he added.
Chander Mansharamani, MD of Alpcord Network Travel & Conferences Management Company and the former vice chairman of India Convention Promotion Bureau, said while the number of conferences and queries have gone up for his company, India is not taking advantage of conventions as an economic activity.
“We are not encashing the concept of a knowledge economy. There is currently no centralised agency that can go and bid for a conference in India. As companies, we can bid for conferences but if the Indian government bids on its own, it would have a lot more say,” he added.