And travel planners are definitely not complaining!
Companies across India are getting back to foreign travel with a vengeance, albeit to make up for two years of lost time. Watch major Titan took 1,500 channel partners to Greece while Herbalife, the dietary supplement major, took 5,000 team members on a cruise. Corporates, including L’Oreal, Maruti Suzuki, Sun Pharma, Tanishq, HDFC Argo, Dream 11 etc. are also organising major corporate events overseas.
It certainly is Band Baaja Travel time for corporate India with countries such as Spain, Switzerland, France, Italy and the Far East topping the list of destinations.
Corporate events and incentive-based programmes are seeing a comeback post-Covid. Budgets are also up 40-45%, say event managers. While it was ₹1.2 lakh per person pre-covid, it has gone up to ₹2 lakh per person for the same experiences now.
“Events are coming back with a vengeance and corporates are willing to spend without any compromise on venue, technology enhancements like video mapping or holographics,” said Oum Pradutt, managing director, Phase1 Events & Entertainment.
“While airfares are high, accommodation has seen a similar rate jump in most of the exotic overseas locations. The rooms are booked in most hotels in these markets for the next few months,” added Pradutt who has organised several events in Spain, France, Japan and Thailand recently.
The country’s largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki recently concluded a dealer meet in Barcelona, Spain. “It’s a celebration of past achievements for the channel partners. Not only does this lead to team building but keeps the stakeholders motivated enough as they look forward to a trip with family,” said Shashank Srivastava, Senior ED.
“We will begin our corporate incentive tours for front-end channel partners and distributors early next year to discuss plans for the year ahead, strategies and new product launches,” said Shyam Motwani, Business head, Godrej & Boyce.
“The tourism department and embassies of countries like France, Spain and Switzerland have been proactive and helping in visa appointments. In some cases, visa is issued within 2 days of applying,” said Rajeev Waddan, director, Om Raaga Corporate Services that took corporates to Barcelona, Paris, Switzerland, Italy, Turkey and the Middle East over the last few months.
The recovery is dependent on consumers and businesses which have the confidence that these destinations are now safe to visit, experts say.
“The first large corporate group arrived in March 2022 and since then several corporate groups from India have been lined up till end December. This year the season has extended beyond September, which is generally the end of peak season,” said Aishvarya Guhagarkar, director, MICE, Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau.
“It was not very typical for corporates in the East and South to do overseas corporate events, which we are seeing now. The traditional markets of west and north continue to be strong,” Guhagarkar added.
The Covid disruption led many corporates to spearhead their digital efforts, even as employees missed personal interaction. Channel partners and employees are keen to meet and hear directly from senior management, until now done virtually , say the event managers.
As corporates get back to physical events and travel thereupon, venues will offer the option for virtual and hybrid events. And for the hospitality industry this is the most profitable sector, as MICE groups use the banquet rooms in large numbers, making it vital for hotels. Like any other sector, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions), is also adjusting to a new normal, say to experts.