Embarking on ICE with MARRIOTT
Nicholas Dumbell, GM, Renaissance, Marriott Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel & Lakeside Chalet- Mumbai, Marriott Executive Apartments, talks about catering to the MICE crowd
Mumbai is not only the economic hub of the Indian sub-continent but also the business hub for the global market. To showcase the diverse norms of MICE in the city, Marriott as a brand has proven its mettle from time to time. Elaborating on the specifications of the largest Marriott hotel in the country, Dumbell shares, “We have close to 230,000 square feet of space in the hotel, both indoors and outdoors. Whether it is our 13,000 square feet ballroom, or 35,000 square feet Renaissance gardens. Between our two hotels we have close to 800 bedrooms. In the main renaissance hotel, we have 600 bedrooms. In December 2016, we completed the refurbishment of half those hotel bedrooms. So we pretty much have a brand new hotel with a fantastic meeting and event space.”
For any event to be successful the usage of props and logistics are crucial apart from the convention space.
“We have been working on improving the convention experience, may it be with props, buffet setups, doing stuff out-of-the-box,” he adds.
The city of dreams, Mumbai, has proven to be fruitful for Marriott's properties. Talking about the growth plans of Marriott hotels, he says, “We will be opening up even in some of the smaller cities; we have a goal to make sure by 2020 we have 200 hotels, which is a doubling of our hotels in three years; these are exciting times for us. We have doubled our banqueting revenue over the last four and a half years. At the same time we
have opened JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar which is our sister hotel, right next to the Mumbai International Airport. When we measure our RevPAR index, we got a premium of 30 per cent which is the best around.”
CLIMBING THE LADDER FOR MICE
India is currently slowly climbing up the ladder with conventions, conferences and hotels geared up to take the optimal role in MICE. Giving his perspective on MICE, Dumbell shares, “There is a growth in the number of international conventions happening in India. For the big MICE conventions, only five per cent have an international element to it. I would like to see that grow to about 20 per cent. Also, customers are now willing to pay a little bit more for added value. People will pay more if you are putting across a more elaborate buffet with great props. As operators in the business, we need to identify how we maximise that. Marriott's ‘Meetings Imagine' programme helps customers choose such added benefits.”
OCCUPANCY AND REVPAR
Dumbell gives a sneak peek on the statistics expected this year, “We will finish the year in a high 60 per cent occupancy. RevPAR will be between `7500-8000. We have seen growth in RevPAR, our hotel strategy this year has been driving occupancy and have had huge success with over 25 per cent growth in occupancy.”
We will finish the year in a high 60 per cent occupancy. RevPAR will be between `7500-8000
Even while there are opportunities for MICE in India, there are some organisational hiccups that is not letting the MICE segment reap benefits. Enumerating challenges in the MICE market, he says, “The biggest challenge for MICE in India is a lack of any coordinated formal convention bureaus.”
India is incomplete without its weddings. Dumbell adds, “Wedding are growing at a quicker pace than conventions. About 30 per cent of our events business is coming in weddings. We will be doing over a 100 weddings this year. The sector is surging. The challenge with weddings is the number of auspicious days and its challenging to encourage them to move to other days. The wedding segment does drive a huge amount of revenue for us.”