In a turbulent economy which has given birth to speculation on the reduction in leisure as well as business travel, hotels have managed to find the silver lining – the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) space. In a recent tête-à-tête with T3, Nikhil Ganju, Country Manager – India, TripAdvisor stated that hospitality is the one segment of travel that is still holding its own. A large chunk of this seems to be owing to MICE, especially the growing need, and comparative lack of relevant infrastructure. India is trying to position itself as a successful MICE destination to international tourists, and the domestic corporate travellers is looking for the service they have so far enjoyed in other countries.
According to Pep Kumar, General Manager, Vivanta by Taj, Yeshwantpur, the property has seen considerable growth owing to its MICE. “As the hotel offers one of the best MICE facilities in the city of Bengaluru, 45 to 50 per cent of the hotel’s business is fuelled by this segment. The business travellers generally come in for a conference spread over a day or two,” she revealed.
Echoing her sentiments, Abhijit Chitnis, Director of Sales and Marketing, Pune Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre, stated that the property was responsible for introducing Pune as the convention destination in India, and about 40 per cent of their total business is fuelled by the MICE segment. “We have seen a 32 per cent growth in comparison to last year with regards to MICE centric business for our hotel. The hotel has become a ‘destination’ for high profile conferences,” he claimed.
Speaking about the growth of the MICE market so far, Oppenheimer Pinto E Fernandez, General Manager, Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport, opined that MICE has been witnessing a steady growth and his property has been notching an increase of 13 – 15 per cent in the MICE bookings in the recent past. Agreeing with Fernandez, Martin Wuethrich, General Manager, Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway, said, “MICE contributes 25-30 per cent of our total revenue. The corporate FIT market is number one as it contributes to 60 per cent for hotels business.”
“From 2010, when the Pune Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre was launched and positioned as a MICE and business hotel, it opened avenues for companies to explore another city, Pune, for their convention needs and requirements. The product was conceptualised to handle large scales conventions, being cost effective in comparison to metros like Mumbai and Delhi. In addition, the connectivity to Pune from major cities in India was a winning combination. The property, since its launch, has seen a 32 per cent revenue generation through MICE / Business groups and conventions from across cities,” revealed Chitnis.
Bearing in mind the rapid growth of the segment over the last few years, the MICE space looks like it is here to stay, and the hoteliers agree. Fernandez is expecting a growth of seven to eight per cent in the business travel bookings in the coming year.
“In spite of supply growth in Pune, we see tremendous growth in demand. With segments like IT, automobiles, pharmaceutical growth in the city and Chakkan and Ranjan Gaon, which are outskirt areas of Pune, converting into industrial hubs, the property is destined to receive an approximate 15 per cent ramp up in the business traveller numbers in the next couple of years,” concluded Chitnis.