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This entrepreneur is calling for ‘MICE’ infestation

Don’t get alarmed! It’s got nothing to do with pests and everything to do with travel and tourism for the purpose of business. Put simply, MICE stands for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions. Raghav Khosla, Group editor of Exhibition Showcase and an alumnus of Apeejay School of Management, says the MICE industry is crucial for the economy.

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Founded in 2013, Exhibition Showcase is India’s most comprehensive media platform for MICE-related news and events. Raghav is also behind the Exhibition Excellence Awards initiative that has now transformed into a mega initiative for the Indian MICE industry. He was honoured in India’s 100 Most Influential Leaders in MICE industry in 2018. Raghav said the main purpose of MICE events is to bring together top professionals from every sector in a tailor-made hospitality setting and engage in meaningful conversations. In a candid interview, Raghav explains in detail about the MICE industry and why it is vital for the economy. Edited excerpts:

Tell us about all the key components of MICE.

All components of MICE have one thing in common – they’re all strongly related to business travel.  They are as follows:

Meetings: A group of people gathering in a common location, for a common reason, is a type of meeting. The examples of meetings could include annual meetings, board meetings, sales meetings, product launches, presentations and training. They’re typically held at hotels or at convention centres.

Incentives: A form of paid vacation given to employees, associates or dealers as a reward for their performance or as a way to build teamwork. Both the hospitality industry, as well as the tourism industry benefit directly from this kind of event.

Conferences: In conferences or conventions the attendees attend educational and knowledge sessions, participate in discussions or socialise. They differ from meetings mainly because of scale. Conferences are large format meetings where hundreds or thousands of people participate. These are specifically focused on a particular industry or profession.

Exhibitions: Exhibitions are essentially trade shows where one or more sellers display their goods and services to a group of buyers. Exhibition participation can help you meet with customers who are eagerly looking for a deal.

Why is the MICE industry critical for tourism and the economy?

According to Allied Market Research (a market research firm), the global MICE industry accounted for $805 billion in 2017, and is expected to reach $1,439 billion by 2025. The MICE segment provides a huge impetus to a country’s economy, statistics point to the fact that the average MICE tourist spends double the amount of the other tourist expenditures. According to a draft by the Ministry of Tourism, “MICE not only gives a boost to the economy in the form of income generation, but creates huge employment opportunities in related hospitality service providing sectors like accommodation, food and beverage, convention services, transportation, tourism and entertainment.” The all-round nature of MICE tourism can offset the periodic lull faced by the hospitality industry. Other than the economic benefits, MICE helps in the dissemination of knowledge and skill upgradation. 

What’s the present scenario of the MICE industry in India?  

The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) brings out the ranking of countries and cities based on the international association meetings tracked by ICCA. Only those meetings that meet ICCA’s stringent assessment criteria – a meeting must take place on a regular basis, host at least 50 participants, and rotate between a minimum of three countries – are included in the Database. As per ICCA Country and City Rankings 2019, USA remained as number 1 country with 934 meetings out of total 13,254 meetings. India with 158 meetings was at 28th rank as per 2019 ICCA rankings. As per MICE study carried out in 2019 sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism, India MICE industry is sized at ₹ 37,576 crore, 60 percent of which is attributable to Meetings, Incentives and Conferences. Indian MICE has less than 1% share in the estimated global MICE business despite India’s varied aesthetic and natural beauty and its growing economic strength. We also face stiff competition in the region from countries such as China, Macau, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia which are already preferred destinations. Covid too has taken a huge toll on the Indian MICE market.

So, what needs to be done?

Due to lack of well-defined policies, high taxation and lack of government support in the pre/ post-event we are losing the MICE business to neighbouring countries. We also need more world-class facilities which can meet the requirements of global exhibition-cum-convention operators. Remember the MICE industry which is inextricably linked to the hospitality industry is embodiment of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat.’ We need ‘MICE’ infestation in India. I am glad that the Ministry of Tourism has identified 20 cities to be developed as MICE destinations to boost tourism business round the year.

What are the upcoming trends for the MICE industry?

One this is certain – physical events will always remain relevant. Businesses can’t flourish without face-to-face interactions. As Covid-related restrictions are lifted, professionals in different sectors are more than eager for human interactions. You cannot do without the face-to-face aspects in sectors where large machines are involved. I hope in the post-Covid world the industry rebounds strongly and people merge at a common platform with all safety precautions.

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]

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