India sees high prospects for MICE Travel
Given the positive business sentiment, growing size of economy and increasing international trade, India’s participation in global MICE is set to increase across sectors:
Today, MICE, or Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events, travel isn’t only about showing your employees or partners a wonderful time; instead it is about walking the fine line of providing an unforgettable unique experience while ensuring higher ROI. Keeping this in mind, various international tourism organizations have evolved special strategies for MICE in India. This also presents tourism boards with a fantastic opportunity to expect an exceptional increase in number of tourists.
Also, there is an increasing trend in moving away from the traditional meeting scenes, with people now willing to go beyond the boardrooms and choosing open spaces.
Hanneli Slabber, Country Manager for India at South Africa Tourism, commented on factors that make South Africa attractive for MICE: “We believe that we a have a winning combination that will propel our growth in the segment - a favourable currency exchange, diverse cuisine including numerous vegetarian and Indian options. Various experiences across wildlife, adventure and breath taking views as well as attractions for shopping and night life along with a wide variety of graded accommodation makes South Africa a preferred MICE destination for Indian organizations.”
POPULAR MICE DESTINATIONS
A recent global Destination Index revealed the top destinations in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States for meetings and incentives. The global Destination Index, which is compiled by the leading Global DMC and Event Management Companies, Pacific World and ACCESS Destination Services, identifies each year the countries and cities most thriving within the meetings, incentives and conferences industries.
Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore were recognised as the top countries in Asia for meetings and incentives, with Bangkok and Bali voted as the most popular cities, and meetings and incentives being the most requested event types in Singapore. Governmental stability, attractive exchange rates and improved flight connections were factors contributing to the increased attention from source markets including North America, Australia and other Asian regions.
Different countries have their popular destinations for MICE. Auckland, Rotorua, Queenstown, Wellington, Christchurch are the top regions in New Zealand for MICE. The key attractions for MICE in New Zealand include unique venues for gala dinners, helicopter scenic flights and glacier landings. There are also popular attractions such as luge rides, jet boating, maori culture and natural attractions such as Milford Sound fiord in Fiordland National Park.
Ignacio Ducasse Gutierrez, Tourism Counselor, Embassy of Spain in India and Director, Tourism Office of Spain in India, speaks on the popular destinations for MICE: “Madrid and Barcelona are the
two main destinations for MICE in Spain; however, we are trying to equally promote other destinations such as Bilbao, San Sebastián, Valencia, Sevilla, Málaga, Ibiza and the Canary Islands. Spain is a very diverse country, with a wonderful climate, fabulous heritage, culture and gastronomy and a very welcoming lifestyle that is perfect for incentives.”
Korea ranks very high when it comes to MICE destination globally. It is among the top 10 MICE countries globally with its capital city Seoul ranking 3rd best MICE city globally as per the latest 2016 rankings by Union of International Associations UIA. Byungsun Lee, Director, Korea Tourism Organization, India, reveals the top MICE destinations in Korea: “For India visitors, Seoul has been the primary destination popular for MICE tourism. Two other places which can generate interest for MICE groups are Jeju Island and Busan. All the three locations offer excellent connectivity, great hotels and venues, unlimited shopping and entertainment and last, but not the least, Indian food. Hence all the three locations are fully equipped to handle Indian MICE business. There are many attractions in all the locations. To selectively name one famous attraction per location would be Gyeongbukgung Palace with its changing of guard ceremony in Seoul, the Seongsan Sunrise Peak (tuff cone volcano) in Jeju Island and the Centum City Shinsaegae departmental store, the world’s largest shopping mall recognized by Guinness Book of World Records in Busan.”
Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban are the top destinations for MICE in South Africa. Victoria Wharf at the V&A Waterfront, the Cape Quarter at Green Point, the Cavendish Square in Claremont and Tygervalley shopping centre are the popular destinations for MICE in Cape Town. Sandton city, Nelson Mandela square, Rosebank mall, Soweto’s Maponya mall, African craft market in Johannesburg, Market of Warwick and Gateway theatre are popular attractions in Johannesburg. Pavillion shopping centre, Bridge city shopping centre, Westwood mall, La Lucia mall, Rinaldo shopping centre and the Crescent on Umhlanga Ridge are the popular MICE destination in Durban.
Indian business travellers for MICE are seeking niche experiences in Oman like canyoning, scuba diving, golfing, self-drive tours among others. Different regions in Oman are popular for different activities. Muscat can be explored for dolphin watching, sailing and jet skiing. Daymaniyat Islands is famous for snorkelling and scuba diving, Masirah Island is an excellent place to go for kite surfing; Jabal Shams is famous for hiking and trekking trips, and quad biking can be experienced in Sharqiyah Sands. Some of the best Souqs (local market) in the Middle East are in Oman. Mutrah Souq in Muscat is a labyrinth of shops selling colourful artifacts, handicrafts and souvenirs. The historical forts and castles of Oman are the country’s most striking cultural landmarks and there were over 500 forts stretched along the long coastline of Oman.
TIE-UPS WITH AIRLINES & TRAVEL COMPANIES
Tourism New Zealand works with a range of commercial partners in the Indian market. The tourism board has partnerships for MICE with airlines including Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways where they work together in joint advertising and marketing campaigns. Steven Dixon, Regional Manager – South and South East Asia, Tourism New Zealand, shared his perspectives on these tie-ups: “We have range of travel agent partners in joint marketing campaigns. This year, we have partnered with SOTC and Cox and Kings Ltd on joint marketing campaigns to target corporates with the objective to increase incentive groups to New Zealand.”
Spain Tourism Board had collaborated with local trade professionals in Spain, venues, hotels, DMCS and much more. Ignacio Ducasse Gutierrez added: “In India, we work very closely with different airlines, especially Air India, which launched a direct flight from Delhi to Madrid in December 2016 and Turkish Airlines which has been our partner for several marketing and trade activations.”
South Africa Tourism Board to has collaborated with Air India and Turkish Airlines. It also has tie-up with several hotel chains (eg Melia, Accor), and with the MICE agencies in India.
Korea Tourism has carried out active MICE promotions in strong collaboration with big travel agencies and airlines. They do conduct joint training programs from time to time at difference cities
Steven Dixon is interested in joint marketing activities with travel companies
Byungsun Lee gives importance to BTL platforms & roadshows for MICE
in collaboration with airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, etc. Korea tourism also has tie-ups with hotels such as Accor group, where they educate the travel agents of the respective products.
Technology has taken the centre stage in all industries – especially in tourism. Today, people decide where to go next based on posts on Facebook, Instagram, and the like - thus, technology helps influence their destination choices. Selfies & check-ins at popular places have also become an integral part of holidays, and are instrumental in promotions by tourism boards. Moreover, it has been established that 89% of digital promotions are consumed via the phone. The online world has become a place where one not just look for information, but also for inspiration, for adventure, for beauty – and all these senses play into desires to travel.
For promoting MICE in India, Korea Tourism is mainly using BTL platforms such as organizing roadshows, participating in reputed B2B and MICE related events. Byungsun Lee shares his views on use of B2B magazines to promote MICE: “We restrict ourselves to travel trade magazines and some of reputed business magazines such as Fortune, Forbes, Outlook Business, Business World, etc, to promote MICE in India.”
Egypt is targeting travellers from the big cities of India. It also intends to penetrate to tier 2&3 cities. The tourism board conducted road shows in Mumbai, New Delhi, Ahmedabad and Bangalore to promote MICE tourism in India.
Ignacio Ducasse Gutierrez recommend the use of several platforms and channels to promote MICE in India: “We promote our destinations through print and online, we have strengthened our B2B relationships through workshops, presentations, roadshows and fam trips.”
Ras Al-khaimah in UAE is growing as a tourist destination. The tourism authority of Ras Al-khaimah is doing dynamic marketing, and partnerships and co-marketing agreements with some of the key operators like Thomas Cook, which have helped them to create awareness. Furthermore, the tourism authority has signed a partnership with Air India Express, as landing directly to Ras Al-khaimah has also been critical.
Qatar Tourism Authority will host 40 prominent tour operators, travel agents and media from Germany, along with media and planners specialising in MICE tourism from various key global markets.
POTENTIAL SECTORS FOR MICE
New Zealand works closely with corporates from various segments like banking and finance, paints, garments, automobiles, cement, etc to target for MICE in India. Korea Tourism targets sectors like pharmaceutical, insurance, automobile and electronics.
Hanneli shares her views on the potential markets in India: “South Africa Tourism Board mainly targets the pharma and IT sector for MICE in India. Moreover, incentive and business travellers spend around 19 nights on an average, which provides an opportunity to be extended into a family holiday, post the program concludes.”
She further added: “Indian corporates as well as meetings and events planners always have a keen eye out on accessibility and affordability, but most importantly, they’re looking to create an unforgettable experience. Cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad are mature markets for us but we are witnessing good arrival figures from cities like Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune and Kolkata. In the coming years, we hope to see an increase in MICE business from mini-metros and tier II markets in India.”
KINTEX located in the outskirts of Seoul city is the biggest MICE facility in Korea with more than 100,000 sq mt of exhibition space and 6200 sq mt of meeting space. This gigantic facility hosted the Rotary International Convention 2016 which accommodated approx. 46,000 people at one time. All major international exhibitions in Korea, including Korea Build and Seoul Motor Show, take place in this location.
South Africa is an exciting option for meetings, with more than 1700 conference venues including large convention centers located in the top cities viz. Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town and East London which effectively cater to events of any type. Besides meetings, South Africa is booming as a conference destination. In terms of MICE from India, incentive led travel dominates, at approximately 80%. A lot of requests come from strategy-
Ignacio Ducastel Gutierrez focuses on partnerships with airlines to promote MICE
hanneli Slabber believes in providing a combination of cuisine and adventure to lure travellers
planning incentives, where travellers opt for unusual team-bonding setups like, around a traditional camp fire or on game drive vehicles, which not only add a tinge of unconventionality but also encourage discussions and dialogue.
Hanneli shares the details about the conference venues in South Africa: “Incentive-led travellers are always on the lookout for culturally rich, off-the-beaten track experiences that can cater to a wide variety of individual tastes and South Africa is the perfect option. A major change has also been observed in terms of traveller motivation – companies do not prefer offering a paid holiday anymore, they are more driven towards holistic programs where they can imbibe their company’s values and benefits. South Africa, because of the healthy economy and rapidly growing international trade, has seen an upsurge of business travellers from India. Corporates such as HDFC, Hercules, 9X Media, ACC Cement and Siyaram Silk, have organized their MICE trips to South Africa. Also, repeat business traveller growth stands at approximately 35%.”
New Zealand business events go beyond convention. New Zealand not only offers a picturesque backdrop to a business event, but also has state-of-the-art conference facilities across both the North and South islands. With Indian companies increasingly looking at overseas incentive and team-building destinations, the country offers an array of unique activities and experiences that can be customized to fit a group’s budget and objective. New Zealand is a great place for MICE travel, and can cater to events up to 2000 people. There are outstanding venues from hotels to purpose-built convention centres spread across both North Island and South Island - all staffed by people who showcase New Zealand’s very warm hospitality. New Zealand caters well for events of up to 2000 delegates.
There are many huge MICE facilities and venues in Spain, for example, Ifema in Madrid, Fira Barcelona, Feria de Valencia. One of the major events that took place in June 2016 was the IIFA Awards in Ifema Madrid with an attendance of more than 20,000 people. The MICE tourism sector will receive a significant boost with the recent launch of the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre in Muscat. The second phase of the centre is scheduled to launch by the end of 2017. This centre will include state of the art theatres, conference rooms and 4 hotels with almost 1000 rooms along with major exhibition halls that can cater to tens of thousands of people at a time.
TOP COUNTRIES FOR MICE
The Tourism New Zealand bid team is focussed on promoting New Zealand as a compelling business events destination in the core markets of Australia, China, South East Asia, USA and the Global Association market.
Korea Tourism Organization – India office is primarily responsible for India and its neighbouring countries. However, globally Korea attracts majority of is MICE tourism business from China and South Asia. India is one of the major potential markets where the tourism to Korea is very much at its nascent stage and is experiencing continuous growth for the past few years.
South Africa Tourism Board gets majority of the business from the UK, Europe and North America. Among these countries, the majority of the business comes from the UK, Canada, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. “Our main markets are in Europe, mainly UK, Germany and France. However, we also receive big numbers for the MICE segment from the USA, UAE and South America. In Asia, we are targeting big markets such as China and Japan followed by South-east Asia and of course India,” added Ignacio Ducasse Gutierrez.
The MICE night and short experimental tours are the new developments. Korea MICE Night 2017 is an example for it. The MICE night 2017 was a very successful event that was organized earlier this year. In collaboration with regional tourism boards of Seoul, Gyeonggi and Incheon, KTO brought together 17 exhibitors from Korea including hotels, transporters, cruises, venues, regional tourism boards and DMC’S.
Byungsun Lee said: “This was the largest ever Korean delegation to come for B2B meetings with travel partners. Morning full day travel mart had all the travel industry of Delhi NCR region visiting and interacting with the exhibitors. Evening MICE night was a culmination of the event with a grand celebration including fantastic Korean performance and Korean food with some MICE destination information of course.”
INNOVATIONS WILL DRIVE FUTURE FOR MICE
We live in an inter-dependent and interconnected world. The MICE sector’s growth in the region will also rely on the overall health of the global economy. The newer players in the MICE sector will have to build on their unique selling points in order to establish themselves as a serious destination for business. However, governments are strategically investing in the tourism industry, which is already an immense boost to the sector.
It is important to constantly innovate and explore dynamic and engaging ways of diversifying offerings to appeal to a larger base of exhibitors and attendees. As more cities emphasise their MICE offerings, there will be intra-regional competition, which is a positive development, as it will force all those involved to be at their best at any given point in time.