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Wednesday, 18 April, 2018, 15 : 07 PM [IST]

MICE, Wedding, Social Events... New Driving Source for Hospitality

In its evolution through the thick and thin of global geopolitics and economic upturns, the hotel industry has realised the folly of keeping all eggs in one basket - room business. Room business became more and more fragile while the other major revenue driver, Food and Beverage, became shaky with competition emerging from foodservice operators outside. An industry looking for alternative source of business and revenue found its calling in emerging demand for social gettogethers, corporate meetings, conferences, banquets, and wedding... This necessitated drastic overhaul in service and product design of the hotels in the last decade. The hotels started breaking down the cookie-cutter room space and design and transformed them to be more aesthetically serene to look and feel. They also learned the paramount of MICE and Banqueting facilities which provide about 8% of the hotel’s total revenue. And, last but not the least, to spread the brand value in the market while competing with the outside standalone and franchised eatery outlets, the hotels accentuated their F&B outlets with facilities like 24-hour F&B service, Chic bars, and signature and local dishes and cocktails. TravelBiz Monitor tapped the industry experts’ views to know how new business segments impacted the service orientation of hotels in India over the past decade.

To Strengthen and promote India as a MICE-friendly destination – Need of the Hour

Gurmeet Singh, GM-Operations, Brigade
Hospitality Services Limited

The Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) industry has grown leaps and bounds across the globe. Corporates are looking for destinations that offer state-of-the-art facilities and new experiences – in short including leisure in their otherwise monotonous official trip. Anticipating the increased revenues from MICE; hotels and convention centres in India have added essential and modern infrastructure to match international standards and have increased inventory to meet the requirements. This has borne fruit and the domestic MICE segment has been growing in the last few years.

The MICE segment is now opting for domestic venues due to the ban on international travel by certain companies which has benefitted the hospitality industry resulting in an increase of almost 25-30%. Corporates prefer venues with modern conferencing facilities where one can get holistic experience that blend both - business and entertainment. While the demand for international destinations, within the Indian corporates, have gone down, the demand for venues that are out of city is growing

as this provides a one-stop solution for business and relaxation. Indian Hotels, known for exemplary hospitality, helped increase the business from MICE segment in terms of room revenue and incremental business from other streams such as catering, recreation, food and beverage, and hence, the total hotel revenue. With diverse culture and cuisine, we also offer a great culinary experience to international travellers and take it beyond the usual Murgh Tikka or Murgh Makhani. Indian Hospitality industry has leveraged this advantage to put India on the MICE map to a great extent.

Having said that, The MICE industry in India, though well equipped to take on its neighbours and in certain cases the global veterans, has to haul a long journey before it comes up as a destination that is ‘Top of the mind’ amongst MICE organisers or corporates.

I believe the need of the hour is to strengthen the ability to execute and be able to deliver events that meet international standards. There is an ocean full of opportunities – domestic and international; it is important that we recognise that and not only build an infrastructure that this segment demands but also promote ourselves as a MICE-friendly destination.

India receives large number of Domestic MICE Segment guests but lacks infra to cater them

Hema Hariramani, Director National Sales - India, Marriott International

With the recent integration of Marriott Hotels with Starwood, a lot of well performing hotel properties have been added to our group which has boosted our already strong hotel network for MICE. Our properties in metro cities like Delhi and Mumbai like JW Marriott Aerocity, JW Marriott Sahar and Renaissance Mumbai have been best performing in terms of MICE. JW Marriott Hyderabad, Le Meridian Kochi and few other hotel properties in Tier-II and -III cities have also been outperforming in MICE and corporate segment for us. For the overall growth of tourism every sector included in it should work handin- hand, be it airlines industry or be it hospitality industry and we are glad that few airlines have stepped up just like us and cashed the potential these comparatively smaller markets have shown.

Majority hotels across the country get more than 95% of its MICE guests from within India. In recent years we have seen quite a few International conferences and other world level events happening in India but primarily people across the world have a mind block for our country as a MICE destination. We have very few convention halls in the country that are capable of hosting international level events. India needs to raise its infrastructure level in terms of convention halls, exhibition spaces, conference halls, etc., to be at par with other countries in its vicinity that hosts majority of world’s popular corporate and other related events.

Hotels now engage in tailor-made experiences for the guests

Manuj Ralhan, F&B Director, JW Marriott Bengaluru

India has become an extremely preferred destination for MICE & Social weddings. Hotel owners & operators see this coming. Infact hotels today are being built to address this demand for MICE & Social requirements.

We see so many boutique destinations with large room inventories precisely as there stands a huge demand for it. Hotels are being built with a perfect blend of culture, history, tradition, hospitality coupled with modern amenities, luxury, heritage which appeals to this segment.

There has been a gradual shift from cookie cutter designs, where as they now offer more novelty coupled with latest technology & intuitive service. A lot of travellers from India itself are orchestrating destination weddings rather than travelling internationally due to this.

Being preferred destination with strong heritage & culture especially with improved infrastructures & digital connectivity, the new mantra has become “go local”. Hotels are now proudly showcasing local-lost recipes, and traditional cuisine is now coming to the forefront.

I would sum it up by saying we are amidst very exciting times where Hotels are no longer providing bed, conference, meals but are creating engaging memorable experiences during such large format events.

This is equally exciting for the hospitality professionals as we continuously are pushing the boundaries of innovation & raising the bar of excellence.

Hotels now cater the aesthetic needs of modern-day traveller

Shipra Sumbly Kaul, General Manager, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Bengaluru Racecourse

There have been lot of changes and development in the hotel industry since the past decade and it is still ongoing. We see these changes due to various factors – growth in technology, change in the Gen X population, guest behaviour as well as the change in expectations and demands.

There are different factors that contribute to the hotel industry and their service orientation. For example, with the boost in online portals and the growth of online applications, travel companies experienced an immense impact. Currently hotels have to ensure that their facilities are available whenever and wherever a guest wants to see them. This technology boon has also led to the rise of booking on-the-go.

The other way hotel industry segmentation is changing is with events. Nowadays, with the increase in disposable income, families getting nuclear and no availability of time, hotels have become one stop providers for many services. Be it social events, small or large get together, dining out to celebrate an occasion, a wedding or even a birthday celebration – the concept of big families coming together to host a function where everybody joins hands is not available anymore as everyone is tied up with work and are spread across locations. Hotels here come to rescue as we can ensure quality and guests don’t have to bother much about the arrangements – we do it for them.

I would like to say that, all of these put together, have impacted the way hotels are now delivering services because that’s what the new generation of customers are looking forward to.

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