Buyers of luxury and MICE tourism services from India’s fast growing outbound tourism market are looking for quality, value and efficiency from their business partners, according to insights shared by partners of the 5th Annual MICE India and Luxury Travel Congress (MILT), organized by Dubai-based B2B event specialist QnA Global.
According to figures published by India’s Ministry of Tourism, India generates 5.1 million outbound travelers on a yearly basis, out of which 1.5 million account for outbound MICE travelers and the remaining 3.6 million represent outbound luxury travelers. With the right offering, this presents significant opportunity for global MICE destinations to market their product and services to a growing market of buyers.
Komal Seth, Country Representative, Sharjah Tourism, India Market, said, “MICE buyers in the Indian market are looking for value for money, confirmed deliverables and quick transactions, both financial and operational. All buyers have destination knowledge and access to vendors and suppliers, but the key to tap this market is to offer commitment and efficiency, which drives the value of the services.”
MICE and luxury tourism is also a primary driver in the domestic market, which has seen rapid growth over a number of years, thanks to increased connectivity and a growing Middle Class in the country. Between 2005 and 2010, domestic tourism numbers doubled and in 2016 a double-digit growth of 15.5% was recorded after 1.65 billion trips were taken in the country.
Mamta Pall, Director of Sales India, Rotana Hotels and Resorts, expects the hotel’s direct business from this market to generate growth of 25 – 30% in 2018.
“We have worked extensively with Indian buyers, sometimes receiving MICE groups of up to 700 people. Indian buyers are mainly looking for a product that meets their expectations in terms of positioning, pricing and end to end requirements, plus a flexible approach from their partner – from enquiry to completion,” added Mamta.
To help facilitate and finalize business opportunities, the MILT Congress offers extensive opportunities for one-to-one networking between potential buyers and clients. Over 2,250 pre-arranged meetings were held at the 2016 edition of the event, and this number is set to rise exponentially this year.
Suku Verghese, Area Vice President of Sales MICE, Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris, said, “MICE is a segment of business which requires much more one-on-one engagement, compared to other business streams in the hotel industry. As the Experiential Travel industry in India matures, buyers are looking for long-term partners who are professional in their conduct, transparent in their dealings, not looking to cut corners and have world-class standards in terms of quality of service and product delivery.”
India is the world’s second fastest growing outbound travel market in terms of visitor numbers after China. With 62 million passport holders in the country and 18.3 million outbound Indian tourists in 2014, the UNWTO predicts one in six passport holders will travel regularly by 2020.
Last year, the Indian Government identified MICE as a key area for Indian domestic tourism too, announcing new visa regulations and a focus on building on the country’s stock of world-class exhibition facilities.
Ackash Jain, Director, QnA Global said, “Tourism in all its forms is witnessing exponential growth in India, driven by many socio-economic and global factors. In order to tap into the potential of this market, travel and hospitality suppliers must first understand these factors and that requires years of due diligence and first-hand market research. With the one-to-one pre-arranged meeting format at MILT, potential business partners have a head start in building key business relationships that put them in front of the right decision makers from India and help them achieve their business targets.”