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Thomas Cook India drives revival of MICE business by delivering unique experiences for India Inc.

Strong resurgence for physical events across Domestic, Inbound and International destinations. Successfully operated over 200 MICE groups of 100-2500 delegates each, since travel restart in 2022.

MUMBAI- With positive corporate sentiment driving demand post pandemic, MICE travel is gaining momentum for both international and domestic destinations. Thomas Cook (India) Limited, India’s leading omnichannel travel services company, has witnessed strong recovery for its MICE business in 2022 – with over 100% growth vs its pre-pandemic levels. The Company has delivered over 200 physical groups of between 100-2500 delegates per group, with spends of over Rs 3-4 lakh per person for premium groups. In addition to incentive groups and meetings, the Company has successfully managed over 75 international and domestic events; also 5 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.

Thomas Cook India has 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; also 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; also private sundowner-dinner sailings with curated local elements and flavours.

Domestic MICE has been a key strategic focus for the Company with Thomas Cook India managing multiple events across Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Goa. The Company’s MICE team has also managed an inbound group of 400 customers in the National Capital Region and 6000 delegates from across 130 countries including UK, USA, Africa, Australia and Singapore – in Mumbai.

Thomas Cook India has managed the prestigious groundbreaking ceremony of the WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine for the Ministry of Ayush (GOI) & the World Health Organisation (WHO); the first ever Digital Yoga Exhibition organised by Ministry of Ayush, Government of India. The Company was also the Hospitality Partner for the 4th edition of the Khelo India School Games, 2022.

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; also for groups of 30-300 delegates for India sailings. Popular international cruise liners include Costa Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Resorts World Cruises and
Norwegian Cruise Line.

Meera Charnalia, Sr. Vice President and Head  MICE, Thomas Cook (India) Limited said, “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% 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.”

Aishvarya Guhagarkar, Director MICE Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau said, “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.”

Sheetal Munshaw, Director – Atout France India said, “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.”

Mubarak Al Shamsi, Director of Abu Dhabi Convention and Exhibition Bureau at the Department of Culture and Tourism said, “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’ve 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 unrivaled 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.”

G B Srithar, Regional Director, India, Middle East, South Asia and Africa, Singapore Tourism Board said, “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.”

Thoyyib Mohamed, CEO & MD, Visit Maldives (National Tourist Board) said, “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%. The Maldives is also witnessing strong onterest 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.”

Khun Isada Saovaros, Director Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mumbai Office said, “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 professionalized 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.” 

Gregg Wafelbakker, General Manager Asia, Tourism New Zealand said, “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.”

Nalini Gupta, Managing Director, Lotus Aero Enterprises – GSA Costa Cruise, India said, “Costa Cruises is seeing unprecedented demand for cruising from travellers in India. The positive feedback of guest experiences onboard, has been our best word of mouth publicity.  Our current sailings from UAE and forthcoming summer itineraries from Europe have generated demand from the various travel segments, which includes individuals, group package departures and MICE incentive groups. By closely working with experienced professional travel companies like Thomas Cook India, our current passenger numbers have far exceeded our pre Covid levels.”

Neliswa Nkani, Hub Head South African Tourism (MEISEA) said, “With over 1 in 4 Indian arrivals to South Africa motivated by MICE, it has been heartening to see South Africa emerge as a world-class MICE destination. In fact, 41% of Indian visitors to SA are motivated by MICE and business travel, out of which MICE alone attracts 18% of Indian travellers. On the back of technologically savvy international convention centres, conference venues, meeting and incentive facilities, and services, the destination is well poised to host a range of events; right from a multi-day mega scale of over 10,000 delegates to intimate, closed room corporate team building activities. Multiple factors like easy accessibility & visa facilitation, a favourable currency rate and a diverse range of activities have made South Africa a natural destination of choice for Indian MICE groups who have covered the majority of Asia and Europe and are now seeking value, freshness and innovation. To leverage the MICE market in India we are happy to work with Thomas Cook to build engagement and provide top quality incentive experiences. We look forward to sustaining our strong relations within the MICE sector as we continue to expand our reach in-market.”

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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