More legroom for MICE

Hotels that have made a mark in the MICE segment of conventions and banqueting, narrate how this niche market has evolved over the years.

The meetings and events space in India has undergone a significant change in recent years. Hindered by a noticeable drop in groups business during demonetisation, there’s now more supply and highly differentiated competition.

Suraj Kumar Jha
General Manager
Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport

A pillarless facility
The ballroom at Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport is a 4000 sqft, pillarless conference and banquet facility. It can cater to a floating crowd of 500-700 persons. The capacity of the facility makes it popular for hosting large gatherings of weddings, MICE, and other corporate events in the city.

Upward trajectory
There has been a steady rise in the banquet space; we have seen an increase in events at our property. Last year, we hosted 115 weddings and this year we are looking at conducting over 150.

Fruitful collaborations
We have integrations with four decorators who recommend our property as a good hotel venue for wedding functions. We have a close partnership with and BookEventz. We remain in touch with all previous clients as well and request them to recommend us to their family and friends for similar events. Engaging with our loyal customers and retaining them is one of our priorities.

Unique offerings to beckon more clients
Our talented team of professionals is constantly working on providing the best of services and facilities to our clients. As part of our wedding package, we offer complimentary individual rooms to the bride and groom. We also offer an extensive menu option for the food and beverage spread. Additionally, we have gastronomical specialties for community-based weddings.

Aashish Vyas
General Manager
Jaipur Exhibition & Convention Centre

Space for every occasion
Jaipur Exhibition & Convention Centre (JECC) is a 42-acre property consisting of two exhibition halls with a combined column space of 20,000 sqm and an exquisite integrated convention centre. The splendid facility also has open-air venue options that include a 5000 sqm lawn and an expansive outdoor exhibition area of 10,000 sqm. The auditorium in the convention centre can accommodate anywhere between 1000 and 1200 delegates at a time. There are 14 breakout rooms including a VIP lounge for 20 to 200 guests. JECC offers a global platform to a range of industries with colossal space that can together accommodate more than 30,000 people at a time.

Constant growth
JECC has witnessed constant growth in terms of business in a span of merely two years. The place has acknowledged a footfall of more than 3 lakh till date. Our customers are our brand ambassadors. We proudly proclaim that JECC has hosted prestigious events of national and international fame.

Presence across mediums
Many reputed wedding and event planners have joined hands with us. With advent of technology in the industry, we are closely moving in this path and currently we are present on all major online portals across the globe.

Incentives by size and type
We, at JECC, believe that our clients are the key to the success of our business. So, we offer incentives depending upon the size of the group and the type of event.

A promising destination
Jaipur, the Pink City, is famous for its aesthetically pleasing architecture and rich culture. It is an integral part of the national investment zone and is the third leg of India’s Golden Triangle. Jaipur is one of the most promising wedding destinations in India and will soon become the hub of all national and international corporate events. JECC is the largest pillarless exhibition-convention-entertainment facility of its kind in all of South Asia. It is just a 15-minute drive from Jaipur International Airport and this ease of national and international connectivity gives it an added advantage.

The GST has severely impacted the MICE industry. Organisers are hesitating to go large scale and cutting their budgets short in order to be economically viable. A recent study says that there is an overall decline in MICE bookings across India as compared to the same period last year. However, on an optimistic note, we think that the GST is showing short-term effects and therefore, we are focusing on industries that are least affected by it.

Gaurav Mehta
Director of Sales & Marketing
Radisson Blu Hotel New Delhi Dwarka

Unmatched facilities
Radisson Blu Hotel New Delhi Dwarka features trendsetting interiors capturing the energy and style in every location of the property. Designed to cater to the colours of the season, it is a full-service, upscale destination for business and leisure travellers. With decor that showcases the four seasons, the hotel takes its guests on a journey through nature, making their stay a relaxed, peaceful, and memorable one. Nestled in one of the largest residential areas in Asia and in close proximity to the metro station, domestic and international airports, the hotel is a perfect combination of individualistic design and service excellence. The hotel offers 5-star accommodation, 20,000 sqft of meeting space, recreational facilities, and is serviced by staff that excels in providing international levels of service to its guests. We are a preferred hotel partner and the first choice of some of the biggest brands and weddings due to our world-class services and F&B offerings. The three banquets can accommodate a combined gathering of up to 1500 persons for social as well as corporate events.

GST: A benefit
The GST norm that recently hit the MICE industry came as a blessing in disguise. We think that it’s a positive move in the long-run for the MICE industry. In banqueting, the effective tax before GST came up to 23-35 per cent, following the Luxury Tax applied by select state governments. The GST of 18 per cent will thus lead to banquets becoming reasonable, consequently offering a huge haul to the hospitality industry. That said, hotels have to strategise accordingly. New competitors include dedicated meeting space venues, repurposing of tourism assets into meeting spaces, and technology. Video conferencing, webinars, screen sharing, and hangouts offer an abundance of choice when considering a meeting and how it is best run within budgets that are under increasing strain. A rigorous demand for value for money is the new norm.

Partnering with experts
Our expertise in wedding planning comes from years of practice and settling only for the best in trade. We collaborate with experts in the business to shape the intricate nuances that make for spectacular festivities. From online portals to destination management companies, from flower decorators to artist managers, we have the best collaborations when it comes to quality. The strategic location of Radisson Blu New Delhi Dwarka enables its guest to escape the high density traffic during peak marriage season.

Revenue generator
We are proud to categorise ourselves as one of the best MICE hotels in Delhi. At least 20 per cent of the total hotel revenue is contributed by the convention and banquet space, without including the room revenue that is attached to the MICE business.

Gaurav Aggarwal
Director of Catering Sales
Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel

Space everywhere
Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel is situated in the northern suburbs of Mumbai, on the banks of Powai Lake. The hotel is spread over five acres, offering 230,000 sqft of indoor and outdoor banquet space, with a capacity to accommodate anywhere between 10 to 2000 guests.

A steady growth
Banquet revenue has been growing steadily at 7 per cent, year-on-year. This is primarily driven by volumes, but the real opportunity is Average Per Cover. Customers are willing to pay if they see value and hence, our focus has been on offering customised solutions to our customers.

Wedding specialists
Shaadi by Marriott is a new concept for Marriott in India. We realise there is tremendous potential in the wedding segment and hence, have started to have wedding specialists in the sales team. These associates are experts in arranging a detailed wedding inspection or suggesting options during food tasting. Our hotel has also organised special dinner events for wedding planners where we can showcase different cuisines that we serve during a wedding as food in a 5-star hotel is a focus point. These events have helped planners sell our hotel with confidence and in turn, helped them close a particular piece of business.

More options for larger groups
As the hotel is well spread-out with multiple event venue options, large groups have an incentive to choose an indoor or outdoor space depending on the theme and purpose of the event. This helps the organiser break the monotony of having the conference, ceremony or event in the same venue over multiple days. Also, offering different food options and cuisines benefits larger groups in case they are in the hotel for more than two nights.

Driving MICE through loyalty
Our hotel has recently renovated 300 rooms and launched Quan Spa. This helps both old and new customers consider us for MICE business as and when an opportunity arises. More importantly, it is the brand affiliation and location of the hotel that helps customers choose us over our competitors.

Revenue share
Our convention sales contribute 25 per cent of our total business. This is split between corporate, association, and wedding business.

GST: A beneficial reform
The MICE industry has been affected by the GST, but reforms like these are going to help the larger picture of driving the nation forward. India’s economy and GDP is healthy, which means hotel business will continue to flourish.

Vipul Kamboj
Director of Sales & Marketing
The Leela Ambience Gurugram Hotel & Residences

Vast spaces
The Leela Ambience, Gurugram, has one of the best banquet venues in Delhi-NCR that can cater to big or small weddings at the same time, given the variety of venues it houses. The total events and meetings space is spread over an area of 26,000 sqft, with the largest venue of 9,200 sqft and a capacity to accommodate between 1200 and 1400 persons.

Regular business through tie-ups
We have a tie-up with a couple of wedding and event planners who give us regular business, which includes weddings, MICE events, pre and post wedding events, and cocktail dinners. We regard them as our business partners and ensure that we work together throughout the event.

Rewarding Meetings
We have an incentive programme for larger groups- Rewarding Meetings at The Leela. Benefits of this programme are offered to event planners and our partners, depending on the scale of business.

Banking on teamwork
We have two dedicated sales teams at The Leela; the acquisitions team is called Hunters and the retention team is called Collectors. Hunters are in the market on a daily basis to ensure that we get regular business for the hotel and similarly, Collectors remain in hotel to take these leads towards closing of business. With the effective contribution of both teams, we ensure that the budget is met on a monthly basis. We also have an event services team that is a single point of contact for guests for all their needs and last-minute requests.

Deciphering GST
The GST will certainly have an adverse effect on the MICE industry. Hotels with a tariff of `7,500 or above are usually the ones that have large convention centres and this change in the tax structure is definitely going to leave an impact on MICE business in India.

Pratyush Anand
Director of Sales & Marketing
JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa

Space aplenty
Our eye-catching Grand Orchard Ballroom (the main banqueting venue at the resort) is just over 3300 sqft, with an expansive pre-function area, both indoors and outdoors. In a reception-style gathering, we can comfortably accommodate up to 275 guests at the venue.

Growth in demand
There has been a substantial growth in the MICE segment for us, year-on-year. This vertical forms a major revenue stream for the resort. Whether we look at intimate destination weddings, group incentive events or strategic off-sites, there has been an enormous increase in demand, especially over the last few years.

A beneficial structure
The resort partners with a few local and other wedding and event planners in our major feeder markets such as Delhi-NCR, Punjab, and Mumbai, and works on performance-linked bonuses with them. This structure enables them to earn overriding benefits based on achieving a pre-defined revenue model.

Group incentives
For larger groups, recreational facilities such as complimentary yoga sessions in the lap of nature are offered. Kachdi, a local high tea tradition in villages, resonating the true essence of Garhwali culture, is offered as a ‘wow’ element too.

Unique offerings
Our unique dining experiences that include breakfast by a stream, farm to fork meals, and pine forest picnics stand out as one of our strongest selling propositions. A lot of groups choose us over our competition, especially to relish these experiences.

A fair share of revenue
Groups and catering verticals form a major revenue stream for the resort. Groups and catering sales, put together, account for close to 40 per cent of the resort’s total revenue.

Marginal slump
There has been a marginal slowdown for us post GST, but more from an individual travellers or families perspective rather than MICE business.

Neil Paterson
General Manager
Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre and Hyderabad International Convention Centre

Boundless capacity
Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC) is a purpose-built, state-of-the-art convention facility, the first-of-its-kind in India, with a total size of 55,080 sqm. It features a pillarless hall measuring 6,480 sqm that can be partitioned into six smaller halls. The hall can comfortably accommodate 6,000 guests in seated capacity. At certain events, we have even accommodated floating crowds of up to 10,000 guests. In addition, there are 37 breakout rooms providing added space and flexibility to accommodate complex convention itineraries. HICC is one of the largest convention centres managed by AccorHotels in India, and is connected to the 287-room Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre hotel.

Meeting growing demand
The property has seen a consistent rise in demand and revenue due to a growing market with burgeoning industries and higher spending power of individuals as well as corporates. Over the past decade, we have built a strong market presence and the property has served demand from both domestic and international MICE markets. Recognising the vast potential of the segment in the region, our facilities were set up in a manner to match leading international convention standards.

Understanding the market
We frequently engage with wedding and event planners to understand the variations in market trends and the changing tastes and preferences of guests. Throughout the year, we also host various showcase and lifestyle events focusing on weddings and other social events to leverage this booming segment, and in turn, facilitate the wedding and event planners associated with us.

Assistance all the way
Based on the size and requirements of large groups, we extend incentives like welcome amenities, additional room amenities, upgrades, access to the premier lounge, and meeting rooms for small meetings. We also offer business centre facilities and organiser offices, aiding the ease of planning of an event. Large groups are also allocated dedicated event managers to assist them with their needs and help them plan a successful event at our property.

A unique offering
Such a large convention centre being connected to a 5-star hotel and an exhibition centre next door offers a unique proposition in itself. The infrastructure of HICC has been planned and built to ensure ease of organising events, be it the provision of a large pillarless hall or 37 breakout rooms to accommodate parallel sessions and small meetings. All venues are equipped with state-of-the-art audio-visual facility, translation booths, translator support, etc. All of this is backed by AccorHotels’ promise of world-class service.

Noteworthy revenue
At HICC, we host many prestigious national and international events that generate a larger share of our revenue mix, approximately 60-65 per cent of overall property revenue.