How severely, in your opinion, was the MICE sector affected during the pandemic?
The damage was definitely big under the conditions of harsh travel restrictions and closed borders. The MICE industry faced a sharp reduction of demand. According to a report by the ICCA, the total number of MICE events held in 2020 was 8,409, which is a decrease of 36.55% as compared to 2019. So, one can imagine the extent of the damage.
When everything went virtual, many believed that even in the post-Covid era, people would find having virtual meetings easier and more convenient. Do you agree?
It is fair to say that the vast majority of businesses and employees were oblivious to the benefits of virtual meetings until it was thrust upon them by necessity and virtually overnight! However, despite the many benefits that virtual meetings bring to the table, people still want to meet people and have a human connection. There is absolutely no substitute for that. While few corporates may have adopted the hybrid way of conducting their meetings but everyone’s favourite still remains the traditional way of conducting conferences by the physical presence of their employees.
Has the MICE segment, in India and also internationally, bounced back to its 2019 figures?
The MICE segment, locally and globally has seen a sharp upward graph. Ranging from Spain Convention Bureau’s barometer to The American Express study, experts agree that the MICE segment is at a turning point. Interestingly India seems to have defied all predictions and surmises and the MICE segment in the country is surging back quickly. It is in fact performing better than the pre-covid era in certain aspects and areas. Posing a stark contrast to the rest of Asia, with G-20 presidency, India can expect more attention and interest in the MICE business this year. Most companies are now gathering their teams together for various activities such as team building, strategic planning, and R&R events, which were on halt for the past two years.
Do you feel there is any change in the way Events and Exhibitions are being held in the post-Covid era?
The evolution of hybrid events was one important change that gained traction post covid,with the crunch in budgets and restrictions in travel, a lot of focus was given to the business of small regional markets and the trend still continues. Not many people thought that a series of regional events has the potential to appeal to a large segment of people. Acceleration to contactless will be one feature which will definitely carry forward into the future. Technology enables planners to provide delegates with touch screens, event apps, sensor beacons and facial recognition and redefine the way MICE is done now.
MICE is a big contributor to the tourism sector, do you agree? What are your thoughts on this?
MICE have emerged as a new phenomenon to aid the thriving Tourism Industry of emerging Tourism Destinations. India is one such country. The global MICE industry is estimated to reach $1,337.4 billion by 2028, registering a CAGR of 21.3% from 2021 to 2028. Today, hotels and major tourist resorts are becoming a centre for attraction for meetings, gatherings, planning, conferences and other activities. With more investments of leading tourism agencies and coordination of Indian companies, the MICE sector is fast expanding MICE and growing at a rate of nearly 20% per year.