'The MICE industry in India is fragmented, with less specialisation than some other MICE destinations

The IBTM Events Portfolio, a showcase for the meetings and events industry, will launch IBTM India this year. The first IBTM India will have 100 MICE and business travel suppliers from international and Indian hotels and venues, national/state tourism boards, travel and destination management companies, and airlines, along with other suppliers including technology and event management companies.

In this India Tourism Review interview, Sahim Salim quizzes Craig MoyesGroup Exhibitions Director, IBTM Portfolio about IBTM events around the world and IBTM India.

Moyes also shares his thoughts on the Indian MICE industry and tells us that characterestic to any growing market, the MICE industry in India is fragmented, with less specialisation than some other MICE destinations.

Tell us about IBTM events. Where all do you host your events?

The IBTM Events Portfolio is the world’s leading showcase for the meetings and events industry.  The portfolio currently comprises EIBTM in Barcelona, Spain, AIME in Melbourne, Australia, GIBTM in Abu Dhabi, CIBTM in Beijing, China, AIBTM in Chicago, USA, Business Travel Market which is now co-located with WTM in London and IBTM India which will be launched this year in Mumbai, India.

The key brand values and objectives for all of our events, is to provide the best business opportunities, best networking and best education for all attendees. Key to the success of the events portfolio is the world-class Hosted Buyer programme, which secures attendance from meetings industry planners with proven purchasing power. This ensures solid return on investment for all exhibitors attending our shows as they will be provided with the opportunity to network and conduct business with potential buyers. The six shows combined provide access to 5,000 suppliers from 100 countries, 17,000 meeting planners and over 100,000 pre-scheduled appointments.

You will be conducting the first IBTM event in India in September 2013. How did this come about? How important is the Indian MICE market?

The first IBTM India will take place at the Grand Hyatt in the financial hub of Mumbai from 12-14 September 2013. This event has been launched as a direct result of the buyer and supplier demand we have witnessed in the region. India holds enormous potential for the MICE industry with a projected GDP growth of over 8% in the next 5 years. The world’s third largest economy is also showing an increase in outbound business, estimated in 2010 to be worth some US$600m for the sector, with projections of a 13% increase in the coming years.

There is a perception that the MICE industry in India is fragmented. What is your take on this? How can it be resolved?

At the moment I would agree that the MICE industry in India is fragmented, with less specialisation than some other MICE destinations, which is characteristic of any growing market before operators begin focusing on particular meetings industry elements such as incentives or conferences. India’s MICE industry is still very much in its growth stage, and we are witnessing the emergence of new destinations within the country. We are also seeing second tier cities developing quickly, attracting MICE business from major cities such as Mumbai and Delhi. This is further fuelled by the opening of new hotels with MICE facilities, increasing the focus of DMCs.

India also has a large geographical spread which can present challenges, however, global industry associations such as Site, ICCA and ACTE are very active in this market, and the recent launch of Site India is a very positive step in the right direction. We work closely with each of these organisations to bring together every aspect of the MICE industry through IBTM India; we are committed to integrating, educating and elevating the standards of India’s meetings industry. Similarly, our education programme is designed around achieving these objectives and in creating a quality community of Indian MICE industry professionals.

We are also working with India’s industry professionals in addressing the issues that they face, and also to communicate the challenges faced by our buyers whilst organising events in India. The equal importance given to both inbound and outbound business at IBTM India also demonstrates our commitment towards integrating the meetings industry in India. We recognise that this will take time but we are confident that, with the support of our partners and stakeholders, IBTM India will be a key factor in uniting India’s MICE industry.

In your opinion, what are the challenges that the Indian MICE market currently faces? How can they be overcome?

The main challenge currently faced by the industry is the global economic climate. Having said this, the financial pressure has encouraged meetings industry suppliers to become a lot more resourceful and work to ensure that their budgets go as far as possible, generating the greatest return on investment. Attending exhibitions such as those within the IBTM Events Portfolio provides suppliers with a great opportunity to achieve this, as we create opportunities for direct access to, and face-to-face meetings with, key meetings industry buyers. In addition to this, involvement in IBTM shows allows suppliers to make the most of all of the other opportunities for media exposure which are provided as part of their participation.

How important is the Indian travel trade to promote MICE? Do you think there is a lack of training and education in the Indian MICE industry?

Anup Nair, President, Site India Chapter:  "The Meetings & Incentives market is possibly the most important segment of the travel industry today. With positive growth trends in the Indian economy, and the increasing competition in the manufacturing and services sectors, India presents a potentially lucrative market. This has brought many international corporations to India and created a burgeoning work force that offers a huge market for motivational experiences.”

“It is my opinion that the Outbound & Inbound MICE segment in India needs professional education and training to enable it to deliver quality programmes. In association with Site Global, we in the Site India Chapter plan to develop quality professionals. IBTM coming to India and partnering with the Site India Chapter will give the right impetus to this drive. We welcome this initiative by the Reed Travel Exhibitions." 

IBTM India will be a “closed door event” for 100 buyers who are handpicked through a qualification process. Can you tell us more about this qualification process? Who is eligible to attend the meet and how does a buyer go about it?

IBTM India will select 100 top level decision makers who will be hosted as buyers from key markets around the globe, all of whom will be pre-qualified to ensure they are planning to place business in India as well as buyers who place outbound and domestic business will be included. 

The basic strategy for Hosted Buyer qualification remains the same across all of our shows and is focused on delivering quality buyer with proven international budgets to spend.  Each buyer is qualified on the basis of number of events organised per year, purchasing authority, annual budget, amount of global business conducted and potential for future business globally.

Where IBTM India differs from the other shows in the IBTM portfolio, is the way in which buyers and exhibitors are matched. We are introducing a mutual-match making strategy in order to achieve meetings, which are mutually beneficial to both parties. In addition to this, both buyers and exhibitors will have the opportunity to choose who they would like to meet with. We believe that this format will benefit both buyers and exhibitors, promoting valuable and profitable business meetings.

Can you list out some exhibitors and buyers at IBTM India who have enlisted thus far?

Regional and international suppliers including Barcelona, Tourespana, Gran Melia Don Pepe – Marbella, Vienna Convention Bureau, IDEE Travel, ATY Events, Creative Travel, Liberty Incentives, TWU - Travel With Us Pvt Ltd., Fairmont/Raffles and Hyderabad Convention Visitors Bureau have already confirmed their participation at the show.

In your experience, and your study of the Indian market, what are the major points of concern raised by corporates to organize a MICE trip to any destination? Which are the factors that influence the decision on a destination for MICE?

Major points of concern raised by corporates to organise a MICE trip to any destination are; a) the availability of Indian food, since the majority of the Indian groups consist of attendees with diverse food habits b) easy accessibility and flight connections c) easy visa processing is yet another consideration as it pose a big challenge in ensuring that all delegates are able to travel.

Along with the above - safety, affordability and variety are other parameters that influence the decision.  Indians no longer shy away from long-haul destinations and recent MICE movements to destinations as far as Japan, Canada and Australia add to the attractiveness of Indian outbound market.

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