The India Nightlife Convention & Awards (INCA), a unique initiative by Kickstart Entertainment & National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI), is currently hosting its fourth edition at The St Regis Mumbai. INCA brings together and celebrates the thought leaders of the nightlife industry across the country. The convention is educative and encapsulates ways and means towards the creation of progressive and distinctive nightlife culture in India. It is graced with pioneers of the global nightlife industry including Mirik Milan and Lutz Leichsenring – founders of Creative Footprint and Vibe Lab, Ramon de Lima – Night culture advocate, event producer and music journalist, Anya Sapozhnikova – co-founder and creative director at House of Yes, to name a few. The convention sees panel discussions on the dynamic and evolving nightlife culture by highlighting their prime points, journey, accomplishments, and path-breaking initiatives that should be introduced. The various workshops and panel discussions are held over the two-day event. They are curated to touch upon innovative policies of this evolving industry, which contributes significantly to the nation’s economy.
Speaking about the current trend of eating out and nightlife culture in India, speaking to Express Food and Hospitality, Aman Anand, director, Kickstart Entertainment, informed that the majority of India’s population is under the age of 30. “With a significant percentage of this youth population having access to increased disposable income, the eating out and nightlife pattern is surely witnessing a positive change, at least from the business perspective. While the frequency of dining out is much less than a country like China (which has a similar population), this also indicates the huge growth potential for the industry,” feels Anand.
Riyaaz Amlani, Co-Founder of INCA and CEO and MD of Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality also voiced, “The frequency of people eating out has considerably increased in the last 10 years. Earlier eating out was considered on an occasion like a special day or a birthday but now you go out for no reason. People are more curious about different types of cuisine. Specialty cuisine has emerged. Dietary preferences have evolved. The dining out market has matured in the last 10 years but we still have a long way to go.”
Both voiced similar views about the government’s support required for growth of the industry. The industry hasn’t received a lot of help from the government. The tax regime is not very friendly. “If we get the ease of doing business, licenses reduced and tax structure becomes a lot more friendly, this business can grow three times more and provide four times more employment,” expressed Amlani.
“As regards the support from the government, we would certainly like to see more active involvement of the authorities, both at the state and the central level. A case in point being the current debate between the restaurants and aggregators over deep discounting, that has led to the #Logout movement. Unfortunately, apart from NRAI that has been relentlessly raising its voice on behalf of the restaurants, there has been no apparent support/involvement from the concerned authorities like the Competition Commission of India (CCI) in this matter,” informed Anand.
Since safety has been a key concern with respect to the nightlife industry in the country, Anand and Amlani jointly said that they are mindful of the importance of safety, especially in the context of nightlife and strongly believe that the key ingredient is self-regulation/empowerment. “This applies to both the consumer as well as the outlets. To emphasise this further, we have a special panel discussion on Safe Nightlife, which will have special guests including representation from the civic authorities, apart from leaders from the hospitality industry,” said Anand.
Explaining the initiatives taken by INCA to address the key queries and concerns about the nightlife industry, Anand said, “We have been addressing pertinent matters including sustainability of a brand in a competitive environment, the importance of design, bar food trends & the role of women in the nightlife industry. This year, we are introducing some more contemporary topics like inclusivity, safe nightlife & responsible drinking. We are also organising a workshop on mixology trends and a special masterclass on Nightlife by Lutz Leichsenring, club commissioner, Berlin, and Mirik Milan, former night mayor of Amsterdam.”
Highlighting the future roadmap for INCA, Anand and Amlani said, “Having gained significant credibility across eight cities in the country in the last three years, we are in the process of expanding our scope to other cities like Indore, Jaipur, etc. We are also exploring and assessing the international markets to spread the India story overseas. We would also be taking our unique initiative about the importance of the contribution of women in the nightlife industry, aptly called Sisterhood Soiree to more cities.” Amlani in this regard, said, “INCA has become a definitive event for nightlife in India. All bar owners, nightlife destination owners, musicians, and key stakeholders of the industry are a part of this property. It has become a definitive place for people to exchange ideas and thoughts to make nightlife a booming industry. We intend to grow from strength to strength every year. We will now open this body to consumers as well so that they can participate.”