With positive corporate sentiment driving demand post pandemic, MICE travel is gaining momentum for both international and domestic destinations, says Thomas Cook India, the biggest omnichannel travel services company in India.
In a press statement, the company says it has witnessed strong recovery for its MICE business in 2022, with over 100 pc growth compared to its pre-pandemic levels. The Company has delivered over 200 physical groups of between 100-2500 delegates per group, with spends of over INR 300,000-400,000 per person for premium groups. In addition to incentive groups and meetings, Thomas Cook India says it has also successfully managed over 75 international and domestic events as well as five weddings and associated events, with a strong pipeline for the upcoming season.
Thomas Cook India’s MICE team has operated MICE groups to France, Switzerland, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Maldives, Australia, Turkiye, Singapore, Thailand, UK, Italy, Hungary and South Africa. Sporting events were a key focus area and the Company managed several corporate groups for the cricket bonanza in Australia and the UK; also the World Cup in Qatar.
The company says it curated unique experiences for corporates, such as thrilling Harley-Davidson biking and helicopter rides with 360° panoramic views, an exclusive and exciting flash mob in the middle of Trafalgar Square and an air show in the UK. Gastronomic experiences such as cocktails-dinner at the hallowed MCG stadium with an Australian cricket legend, a unique sundown dining tour in Paris and London, with scenic views via a glass-topped roof as well as winery festivals.
With corporates seeking luxury experiences, Thomas Cook has successfully managed premium groups for global CXOs with stays at uber-luxury hotels. Premium experiences included dining at a Michelin star restaurant and vintage plane rides and private sundowner-dinner sailings with curated local elements and flavours.
The company says that cruises represent an attractive value proposition for the MICE sector and Thomas Cook India has delivered a cruise trip for over 600 delegates in Italy. Popular international cruise liners include Costa Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Resorts World Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line.
“We have witnessed accelerated business revival of our volume driver MICE segment by offering unique experiences to corporates. I am delighted with the noteworthy delivery of our MICE Team – we have managed multiple groups ranging from 100 – 2500 delegates with budgets of over INR 4-5 lakh per person for premium groups – indicative of clear appetite for MICE spends. In addition to international destinations like Europe, Turkiye, Australia, UK, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Maldives and South Africa, we have managed events in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Rajasthan and Goa on the domestic front. We witnessed over 100 pc recovery vs our pre-pandemic levels for MICE sector with our robust forward pipeline reflecting a strong and growing appetite for MICE travel in 2023 and beyond,” says Meera Charnalia, Senior Vice President and Head – MICE, Thomas Cook India.
“Thomas Cook has always been creating the best travel experiences for their corporate clients. Thank you for inspiring clients to travel to Switzerland and experience the best of nature. Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau is happy to express our gratitude for all the work that you do for Switzerland,” says Aishvarya Guhagarkar, Director MICE Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau.
“A mainstay for France, incentives was amongst the first segment to revive post reopening of borders. France offers a very eclectic choice of team building activities, landscapes, accommodation options and intra-regional connectivity to the ever-evolving demands of this segment. While Paris undoubtedly remains a favourite, the region of Ile de France, Cote d’Azur and even Alpes Mont Blanc are also becoming strong contenders. In addition to incentives France has also gained prominence as a wedding destination with three very high-profile weddings taking place last year in Paris, Cannes and Monaco respectively. We have been well supported in our endeavour to promote France as a MICE destination by renowned industry stake holders such as Thomas Cook who have showcased France’s diversity in their various MICE itineraries proposed to their clients,” says Sheetal Munshaw, Director – Atout France India.
“India is consistently ranked as one of the top overseas markets for the emirate and is one of the largest source markets for MICE travel in Abu Dhabi. We have seen significant growth in the number of Indian corporate groups holding their incentive trips in Abu Dhabi over the years and witnessed an influx of MICE visitors flying to the destination from across the globe. In 2022, we launched an enhanced Advantage Abu Dhabi Meetings & Incentives 2.0 programme with an aim to stand out in the sector, support our valued MICE groups and increase awareness of our destination as the gateway to the MENA region. Leveraging the UAE capital’s reputation of delivering unrivalled hospitality, the incentive programme has seen great success in encouraging organizers to ‘Get the Advantage’. We look forward to working with Thomas Cook India to attract more Indian tourists,” says Mubarak Al Shamsi, Director of Abu Dhabi Convention and Exhibition Bureau at the Department of Culture and Tourism.
“The MICE industry in Singapore is on a strong path to recovery, following the city’s reopening to fully vaccinated visitors with no quarantine and testing requirements. We anticipate a full recovery of the MICE industry within the next couple of years. In 2022, marquee international events returned to Singapore, including Food and Hotel Asia – Food & Beverage and Food and Hotel Asia – HoReCa, which took place as two dedicated trade shows for the first time, ITB Asia, and Singapore Fintech Festival, which attracted a record turnout from over 115 countries. From India, we have seen a growing number of M&I groups to Singapore, including large 2400 pax land and 3,000 pax cruise movements. Singapore’s tourism, MICE and cruise sectors are forward-thinking and we will continue to develop new and sustainable solutions that will appeal to future travellers. Working with partners like Thomas Cook, we invite Indian MICE travellers to come and enjoy a diverse array of exciting and reimagined BLeisure experiences,’’ says G B Srithar Regional Director, India, Middle East, South Asia and Africa, Singapore Tourism Board.
“I am proud to say that India is currently the top source market for the Maldives tourism industry – we welcomed 241,369 tourists from India by the end of 2022, constituting a market share of 14.2 pc. The Maldives is also witnessing strong interest from Indian travellers as a MICE destination. After all, our MICE concepts offer a unique and eclectic blend of b+leisure with seclusion, luxury, and prestige. Visit Maldives conducted a joint marketing campaign with Thomas Cook India last year with exceptional results- further proof of how much Indian visitors love and adore the Maldives. With India remaining a key market for the years to come, I am confident that we will tap into the full potential of MICE tourism in Maldives. India, our closest neighbour, will undoubtedly continue to top the arrivals charts to the Sunny Side of Life,” says Thoyyib Mohamed, CEO & MD, Visit Maldives.
‘‘Thailand has the potential to become the Asian hub of MICE, with the country’s industry forecast to be among the top 5 MICE destinations. Business recovery, professional reconnection, and rejuvenation of the business workforce, we believe, will become the post-COVID agenda. With our professionalised workforce, state of art infrastructure, support schemes for meetings and incentives, conventions, exhibitions & mega-events, we are pleased to work with Thomas Cook & believe Thailand will become an even more preferred destination for the MICE segment,” says Isada Saovaros, Director Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mumbai Office.
“We are elated to know that New Zealand is one of the well performing MICE destinations for Thomas Cook India. As the tourism sector’s recovery gets underway, we recognize the importance of the Indian market and will continue to convert high-quality intentions into arrivals and build momentum for MICE visitation in FY23 and beyond. Our partnership with a market leader like Thomas Cook places us in a good position to tap and convert pent-up demand for New Zealand and welcome Indian visitors with great enthusiasm,” says Gregg Wafelbakker, General Manager Asia, Tourism New Zealand.