A recent whitepaper on ‘Business travel in India’ by FCM Travel Solutions and KPMG reveals that the business travel spend in India is expected to reach USD 93 Billion by 2030. The finding is not only a testament of how India has grown phenomenally over the years as one of the world’s largest business travel market but also highlights that corporate buyers from India are willing to shell out the big bucks provided they get value for money.

Travel experts and MICE specialists in the country believe that while the current growth of business travel in India has gained a significant momentum in the last few years, it still only gives the ‘tip of the ice-berg’ view of enormous potential the market actually holds.

To unravel a clearer understanding of the business travel market in India and the numerous challenges it faces, EVENTFAQS has embarked upon an extensive research with 10 significant corporate buyers from India. The findings and key reveals of the research will be unveiled in a series of stories on this platform.

                                  Must-haves in a Destination that make it MICE Worthy

As the market for outbound MICE in India is becoming bigger each day, each corporate buyer today has a variety of destinations to chose from for their next MICE program. However, for any destination to be deemed MICE worthy for an Indian business traveller, there are some pre-established conditions that they need to score well on.

Talking about the must-have’s in a destination that make it MICE worthy, Sriram Gopalaswamy, Marketing Head – Commercial Segment, Lenovo shares, “In my opinion, easy travel from 5 metro cities of India, ability to offer new ethnic experiences, no tourist-traps, vibrant 24×7 atmosphere, and superior customer experience are the 5 must-haves in any destination that make it favorable for MICE.”Vilas GV Manager – Events, Promotion and Communications, Herbalife Nutrition says, Infrastructureremains a massive challenge for our outbound programs and hence, any favourable destination for MICE needs to have a great event venue nearer to or as a part of the hotel. Infrastructure in a MICE worthy destination needs to be simple and not complicated. We need venues with a large inventory and it is because of their absence that our MICE programs have to happen in smaller groups. Also, what makes a destination MICE friendly is the support one receives from the tourism board. How they come and support corporate buyers and facilitate the entire MICE programs makes a huge difference.”

Kaushik Sinha, Group Vice President- Communications, CSR & Admin, Magma Fincorp comments, “Easy connectivity from the four hubs we use – Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Kolkata, shorter flying distance, quality 5-star hotels with good banquet space, great outdoor venue for cultural events and gala dinner and a thriving nightlife and good sightseeing options are a few must-have’s that make for a great MICE destination for us.”

                                            Emerging MICE Destinations on the Radar

When asked to name some of the emerging MICE destinations that they are keen to explore for their next channel marketing programs, the brand custodians shared some interesting insights. Sriram Gopalaswamy revealed, “Turkey, Israel, and Korea are a few destinations we are keen to explore next.”

Vilas GV responded, “Through our previous MICE programs we’ve already covered most of APAC and hence we are eagerly looking to explore outside Europe. Las Vegas is an interesting option as not only does it give us a wide variety of engagements to choose from but also it has the necessary inventories that meet our demand. Barcelona because of its massive infrastructure seems very promising and the same goes for Seychelles.”Kaushik Sinha picked Bahrain, Vietnam, Oman, Qatar as interesting MICE destinations on his radar.

                                        Biggest Challenges and Tackling Them

It goes without saying that planning an outbound MICE program for the large numbers of Indian business travellers is easier said than done. Speaking on the challenges of planning outbound MICE Sriram Gopalaswamy shared, “Seamless flight connectivity to the destinations, visa processing and the lack of good ethnic experiences is the biggest challenge that we face. What definitely needs to be worked upon is the ‘Pre-approval of visas and faster immigration clearances’ for group trips also, the destination management companies should promote more ethnic experiences to add more value to such business travels.”

Vilas GV added, “It goes without saying that we can’t manage every aspect of an outbound MICE program on our own and hence, we depend on getting an agency partner on-board. The main challenge here is that the business travel industry is dominated by a few big giants and there aren’t many players in the market, to begin with. Hence, a lot of times we end up spending more than we should. If more information about DMC’s, creative partners to manage such programs is readily available that will tremendously help in enhancing the overall experience.”Kaushik Sinha shared, “The biggest challenge we face is that it takes a lot of time to get a revert from the DMCs. A proper tour planning is what we would like to have before we finalise any destination. We get in touch with the tourist Bureaus as well as conduct recce to have all clarity and complete control. The tourist bureaus should also keep sending details on upcoming festivals, newer destinations, and facilities. All such information will greatly help us in planning our MICE programs.”

For more information on the story, please write to neha@experientialplanner.com with details of your brief so we can loop you in with the right person/s.