Editor's Blog

The art of attracting Indian’s event organisers
Mon 15 Apr, 2019 at 12:00 am

For a meeting destination to gain popularity and staying power to attract clients, it takes more than just a pretty face. The city can be scenic and beautiful with a lot of natural beauty but for meeting clients you need to expand the horizon, just a wee bit more. Firstly clients prefer direct flights to cut down on travel time and as little jet lag as possible and therefore minimal recuperation time so the meeting participants hit the turf running. This helps destinations in south and south-east Asia to be at the forefront of consideration for Indian events. Secondly, the climatic and cultural similarity plays a big role as comfort levels are significantly important. Thirdly, the availability of multiple cuisine options including, of course, Indian food is imperative to positive decision-making. Finally, due to the exposure to Indian meetings and events, the hotels, venues, F&B outlets as well as destination management companies and tour operators are aware of the specific needs of the Indian MICE traveller. This familiarity allows for flexibility, acquiescence to last-minute requests for changes, additions that can add to client satisfaction levels and therefore a successful event.

Factors that also matter are the availability of entertainment options, pre and post tours of interest, CSR activities, immersive experiences involving local communities and culture.  Examples I have encountered include workshops on joss stick making and hand-beading Peranakan shoes in Malaysia, fishing excursions on local boats in the Philippines, planting rice paddy in Thailand, making batik masks in Bali, teaching English to schoolchildren in Bhutan, meditation and yoga sessions in Myanmar and Ayurveda lessons in Sri Lanka. These can enrich the experience for meeting delegates and leave a lasting and fulfilling impression. Karen Bolinger, erstwhile ceo of Melbourne Convention Bureau, said: “For example, people can go on a street art tour and they’ll say that’s nice, but anyone can do that. Nowadays, incentive travellers want to roll their sleeves up, immerse themselves and want bragging rights. So instead we can organise a street art tour with an actual street artist, who then takes you back to one of the warehouses and you get cans of paint to create your own street art.”

Corporate incentive travel is rising in popularity among corporations in India as well as the rest of Asia, and the region is rising as a key player of the sector, a research commissioned by the Melbourne Convention Bureau and the Professional Convention Management Association Foundation has found. In addition, the research also found that the incentive travel sector is looking to source unusual destinations and is eyeing secondary or third-tier cities as potential incentive travel locations, preferably within short flying distances. An example is the stunning popularity and success of Penang as an incentive and meeting destination resulting from smart packaging and marketing of its resources and attractions as well as addition of flights.

Asian travel is expected to grow to US$1.2 trillion by 2026 and the incentive travel sector is growing substantially within that, a new revenue opportunity with massive potential is presented for those who can tailor their offerings. Some Asian cities will have a steeper learning curve to ready themselves for the sector’s growth, but it is surmised that they’re learning fast as they go. While readying a destination for incentive travel is not rocket science, substantial research, understanding and education is needed to fully comprehend the needs of the industry target groups, the requirements of specific source markets and the imperative necessity to conjure experiences that will keep a destination in focus and a step ahead. It is no easy task, but who said the events business was easy?

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