Mon, 15 Jul, 2019

MICE tourism segment: Too many players for a piece of the pie

Seeing a boom in MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) business, many of the hotels in the State expanded their conferencing facility by building huge halls and other infrastructure. But, today, the total space for MICE events has doubled and as a result hotels are struggling to find corporate events business

08th July 2019, 02:23 Hrs

KARAN SEHGAL

In the last few years, especially in the monsoon, hotels have been focussing more on corporate events, which are also known as MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions).  

The reason is simple. Fewer individual travelers would travel to Goa in the rains making it difficult for hoteliers to fill their rooms. On the other hand, corporate events would bring a lot of people to Goa making it much easier for hotels to sell their room inventory.   

Seeing a boom in MICE business, many of the hotels expanded their conferencing facility by having huge halls and other infrastructure. But, today, the supply of conferencing space has gone up and most hotels are struggling to find corporate events business.   

Pracilo D’Silva, resident manager, Resort Rio in Arpora, said, “A number of hotels in North Goa belt of Calangute have dropped rates considerably for MICE business. Today, there’s a huge inventory for MICE segment. Companies call hotels for doing events but the conversion rate is low.”  

Interestingly, it is not as if all hotels are struggling to find MICE business. For example: Branded 5-star properties are getting good amount of corporate events business. This is because such hotels have signed up contracts with corporates to do events there.  

Moreover, such brands have hotels all over India and their marketing teams are spread. They market aggressively and are able to attract companies to Goa for doing events. But, unbranded, standalone hotels don’t have such resources and therefore they find it very tough to get MICE business.  

Shivam Verma, general manager, Royal Orchid Beach Resort & Spa, said, “We are a preferred hotel for a number of companies in fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and pharmaceutical industries to do events. For events, we offer them discounts on food and beverages and spa to attract them. But standalone hotels aren’t doing well in the MICE segment.”   

Sunishchal Parasnis, director of sales & marketing, Hyatt Centric Candolim Goa, said, “Goa takes on a different hue and has so much to offer during the monsoons as well - be it breathtaking views, seasonal food to try and experiences to savour. Apart from exclusive outdoor monsoon activities, guests can enjoy the monsoons from our beautiful hill-facing rooms and relish monsoon special delicacies during our themed Sunday brunches.”  

Branded hotels like Royal Orchid Beach Resort & Spa and Hyatt Centric Candolim offer several activities and packages to tourists during the monsoon, which smaller hotels can’t offer. Owing to this limitation, smaller hotels find it tough to attract MICE clients.   

For hoteliers, the importance of MICE business is huge in the monsoon because lesser free individual travelers (FITs) come to Goa when it rains. This is because tourists don’t prefer to travel during rains. Moreover, schools re-open in July everywhere in India and summer vacations end. Therefore, families find it much difficult to travel.   

Verma added, “In the monsoon months of July and August, we aren’t having too many FITs. We are expecting 70 to 75 percent occupancy in July and August, which is mostly due to MICE business.”  

Parasnis continued, “The leisure travel in Goa generally takes a step back in July due to heavy monsoon and reopening of schools in different parts of country. However, an upward trend is seen in group businesses as many domestic corporates prefer this season for off sites and incentives.”  

When it comes to MICE segment, not all branded hotels in Goa have huge conferencing facility. Most of them have space for upto 500 guests. There are only a few hotels in the State which can accommodate 1,000 guests for an event.   

Savio Messias, president, Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), said, “A hotel with a huge conferencing facility, for example 1,000 guests capacity, may ask you to shell out a lot of money, if you want to do an event there. On the other hand, for smaller events like 300 people, you may end up finding a lot of options in Goa because a number of hotels have that much conferencing space.”  

Apart from MICE business, the only other segment is individual travelers, who are coming to the State in huge number. Obviously, it makes it very tough for hotels, which focus on such travelers. They often find it even difficult to recover their costs.  

Polly D’Cruz, general manager, The Golden Crown Hotel & Spa in Colva, said, “Overall, the number of tourists is low this monsoon. Even the number of corporate events is low. At times, companies make queries for events, but ultimately they go to only those hotels they have a contract with to do events. At my property, as of now, we are having only 30 percent occupancy in July. June was even worse for us, as we had only 15 to 20 percent occupancy.”  

Clearly, it is only the bigger hotels, which are able to get sizeable number of corporate events. Most hotels, which are small or unbranded, are finding it increasingly tough to attract corporate for doing events.  

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