An Excellent Event is Like a Perfect Recipe

In December 2017, Amway India is planning the biggest MICE group from India to Dubai for 4000 distributors. We speak to Aikta Tyagi, Associate Vice President – Special Events and Facilities, on how Amway is working in planning, conceptualising and executing such critical MICE movements.

AIKTA TYAGI, Associate Vice President –Special Events and Facilities Amway India has passionately driven the events section since 2004. Her work ethics are anchored around building talent, collaboration and fostering innovative work culture. Amway India has been organising the biggest MICE groups for all its top performing distributors to destinations like Melbourne, Toronto, Paris, Indonesia, Thailand, South Africa and more.

Being India’s largest direct selling FMCG company with office in 80 + countries and a turnover of 9.5 billion dollars globally, Amway is a Direct Selling company centric to benefits, interest and happiness of direct sellers. The destination planned for direct sellers is a part of Non-Cash Award (NCA) for all the hard work they have invested to build their business every year. “NCA is one of the major growth divers and the special events team focusses in bringing new destination every year to keep the direct sellers excited and motivated to complete their qualification and be part of event,” says Tyagi.

While choosing an outbound destination, Tyagi feels, “The overseas event comprises one-day business conference where top management make the business updates, launches and big announcement with lot of fun, multi-cuisine events, engagements activities and entertainment. The number of pax apart from this event varies from 2500-3000.”

Tyagi points out a few factors considered while choosing a destination:

•     Visa

•     Flight Connectivity from four regions (East/West/North & South)

•     Travel time (less flying hours are always preferred)

•     International chain of hotels for the group

•     All hotels should be nearby

•     Business venue with the capacity to hold 2500 – 3000 pax

•     Number of tourist attractions

•     Food and means of local transport

•     Climate

But there are chances that long haul destinations could be as attractive as short-haul destinations despite the extra cost. “We would like to consider long-haul destination for our VVIP guests as they are more exclusive. For the bigger group, we prefer to consider the Asian countries,” says Tyagi.

Amway operates through a direct selling model whereby it empowers individuals to become entrepreneurs through the unique business opportunity. Thus, there are many challenges faced while setting up the travel plans. “I think tourism boards should really support and help in such cases to promote tourism in their country. It is important to get a good deal which includes flights, hotel, visa, etc. They should support such events by helping in decreasing the visa cost and providing a source which helps in coordinating with the embassy so the visa and immigration process goes smoothly. Even with hotel negotiation they should contribute as much, providing in-house entertainment. There are also challenges with flight fares which can be considered and also helping with the local transportation. Also there should be more e-visa and visa on arrival destinations offered for groups, flight connectivity should be better; and support from Tourism boards.”

Apart from this, leisure activities like shopping, exploring the city, adventure tours and activities are in demand. It also depends on the place where the event is organized. For family trips there are special activities for kids.

So what is the perfect recipe for holding team building activities in international destinations, and pat comes her reply, “An excellent event is like a perfect recipe. Team building activities and games should focus on specific areas of team building performance: leadership development, objective setting, communication, creative thinking, trust, co-operation and team development, negotiation, innovation, interaction and many others. For bigger groups it needs an adequate planning, a touch of creativity and a professional dedicated team and if MICE can offer the same it will definitely add value to the itinerary.”

The events organised by Amway for direct sellers are Non Cash Awards / Reward for their efforts in growing the business. “It is really a critical press point which helps effectively to drive stronger business outcomes. NCA’s play a huge emotive connect with distributors. We blend emotions with logic and rationale to drive business outcomes. To quote an example: Dubai 2017 event is a family trip with certain stretched criteria in business wherein they have some extra points to take their children along. So the emotive connect is they are really happy that their kids will also be part of this event and with this the stretched target business is also benefited so it is a win-win situation at both the ends,” says Tyagi.

In terms of accommodations, “Five star international hotel chains with the best hospitality, luxury and food requirements are the most preferred while we travel in groups. Hotel is always preferred at the downtown location which is close to market and other public commuting channels.”

However, over the years, as the travel and tourism industry in India unfolds itself as a more mature destination, the growth in numbers for India Inbound is on the rise. India recently climbed to the 31st position in the recent list of global meeting market published by ICCA - the International Congress and Convention Association. India is still short of big numbers but at least a positive encouraging sign is witnessed. “Thanks to the 29 individual States and UTs that have made an aggressive push to secure a larger pie of the India inbound travel market. And have simultaneously upgraded the destination, the product offerings and marketing strategies to the needs of the incentive travel market. The Narendra Modi-led government made its intentions very clear in terms of improving the tourism sector and the MICE facilities up to the global standards. To accommodate the required development, a complete research was required to understand the pros and cons of the present infrastructure,” feels Tyagi.

The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) co-organised the first edition of the Global MICE Travel Mart 2016 (GMTM) at The Lalit, New Delhi on May 19-21, 2016 with participation from industry specialists from across the globe and Tour Operators, Hotels, Airlines, National level Associations and State Governments promoting MICE Tourism to India. This format offered structured B2B pre-scheduled meetings and networking opportunities to international buyers and India sellers to connect strategically.

As per the expectations from the booking agents, according to Tyagi, large groups require: Visa process at ease, Exclusivity - Adding valuable suggestions and experiences; Confidentiality and Best Price & Services.

Talking about the challenges of MICE industry, Tyagi explains that the focus of MICE should be more on corporate events and confidentiality should be maintained. Events should receive better support from government tourism board. MICE hotels retain a share in the increasingly competitive marketplace. The understanding of what’s driving MICE travellers and how to attract them in future can give hotels a competitive advantage. Technological progress plays a vital role in MICE. Meetings and events have been transformed by the latest technology. It is important to train the staff and upgrade the system accordingly. New meeting approaches such as outdoor spaces, innovative seating arrangements or cosy spots for smaller gatherings. Promotional activities and implementation is required to promote their place to attract tourists with out of the box thinking with better incentive plan for organizing big events.

Tyagi points out some of the latest travelling trends:

·      CSR activities to be supported by the corporate for the destination country

·      Mixing business with pleasure is a very lucrative trend. Extending the business trip to leisure pleasure.

·      Quality over Quantity: Valued Experiences over things

·      Independency – In today’s digital world and with the young generation they want to become their own travel agent by equipping them with technology, guide, etc. They want to be free and explore on their own.

·      Airlines ticket Future Index – Travellers are 24/7 online and are looking for the best deal thus it really adds to the competitive advantage of any travel deal. Getting the best flight fare has become an important part of any travel.

·      Active & Adventurous trip- The travellers are more inclined these days towards adventurous experiences which include ‘African safari, swimming with whale sharks in Mexico or Australia, or hiking the Swiss Alps’.

·      Female Solo Travel - Today, 80% of travel decisions are made by women. Whether married, single or divorced, women are leading the way and the travel industry is taking notice. Women aren’t looking for the gender stereotypes that are often marketed to them. Forget the 5-star hotel and spa days, they want real adventure. Tour companies simply can’t ignore this market. Tour and activity providers will most benefit from ensuring safety for solo female travellers.

·      Food Tourism - When it comes to travel it always comes down to food at some point. Food experiences are not limited to simply dining out. It includes cooking courses, farm tours and the classic food markets, which make up about 95% of these experiences. These experiences are closely tied to the culture of the location. Many travellers consider it to be one of the best ways to get to know the story of the place they’re traveling to and it works as a valuable resource for tourism companies.

·      Responsible Tourism – Adapting according to the market need is very much required for the tourism. Best and timely promotions, training their staff, upgrading themselves to latest technology and meeting the need of people hour is very important.

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