With the rise in MICE business in India over the past years, Marriott has tapped a significant share of this business from both domestic and inbound clientele with the help of their valuable travel trade partners. To recognise their efforts, Marriott International has been organising M-Cube (Marriott Meetings Matter), a specially curated gala event since 2013 in India. Akshay Nayak met with Kadambini Mittal, senior area director, sales & distribution, South Asia, Marriott International at Le Meridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa to collate glimpses of M-Cube 2019 and importance of MICE for Marriott’s business in India
TThe sixth edition of M-Cube (Marriott Meetings Matter) hosted early in May this year at Le Meridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa, was a three-day affair which marked the presence of the who’s who of travel trade and general managers of leading hotels under Marriott International’s portfolio in India. The tailor-made event is curated to recognise Marriott International’s partners to leverage India’s MICE potential and to educate the Indian travel trade about its MICE offerings here.
The three-day long event saw multiple community networking programmes including – evening hi-tea next to infinity pool with an expansive view of the city; renowned Indian model and film producer Milind Soman in a ted-talk style session on wellness; speed meetings session for the GMs and the travel trade clients, and other recreational team-building activities including trekking, football, yoga, etc., as the company aims to help their valuable partners connect with each other in an informal setting. The event throughout marked live gala music performances by leading Indian bands to set the ambience right, during the lunch and dinner time at the hotel’s outdoor banqueting spaces – Henry Lawns and The Woods.
Some of the participating hotels in the event were Ritz Carlton Bengaluru, Goa Marriott Resort & Spa, Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel, JW Marriott Aerocity New Delhi, and Courtyard by Marriott Siliguri, and the host hotel – Le Meridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa, among others.
Inception of M-Cube
M-Cube is an event specially curated for India, that started in 2013 in Jaipur Marriott Hotel. Giving details of the objective behind hosting M-Cube, Kadambini Mittal, senior area director, sales & distribution, South Asia, Marriott International, says, “This is our sixth edition of M-Cube. It is the forum wherein we invite our partners who have given us MICE business in various parts of India. It is a well-planned event during which we conduct an informal meeting ambience and also create an experience for them by conducting special activities during the event. Most of our key MICE hotels participate in the event hence ensuring engagement between the GMs of the hotels and the valuable partners. Our travel trade partners do understand our product and we as well understand theirs and we are recognising them through this event for the efforts they have taken to bring business for Marriott.”
Scene of MICE for Marriott’s business in India
From the domestic front, MICE has really grown for Marriott International’s business in India, remarks Mittal. “We have seen almost a double-digit growth in domestic MICE since the past years. We are also witnessing a lot of demand for tier-II and III cities in India especially for MICE for which we have expanded our distribution of over 100 hotels across the country while also focussing on the previously mentioned markets. We have seen a huge growth in the domestic market,” she adds.
Mentioning further importance of MICE business in India for Marriott, Mittal voices, “MICE always has been and will be a focus segment for us. We now have a dedicated MICE team looking at the emerging demand from this segment. Also, coming to the infrastructural ability, we over the years have built huge convention centres like the one in Renaissance Mumbai. We also opened the Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel & Convention Center which is a huge convention centre too, hence making it evident that Marriott is ready in terms of infrastructure to host huge conventions in India.”
Apart from the sizeable domestic MICE market, Marriott International also believes in roping in inbound MICE business. “There is a huge focus on bringing overseas business to India and we have seen good successful events from Singapore, Hong Kong nationalities, and also have seen a lot of incentives coming from Europe,” affirms Mittal.
M-Cube 2019 hosts Milind Soman to promote wellness
A guest often holds a perception that traditionally, hotels are only meant to provide accommodation and food, but Marriott believes in providing experiences to their customers by plugging them to a range of engaging activities. As part of these engaging activities, a ted-talk style community event during the M-Cube 2019, hosted Milind Soman – Indian model, film producer and fitness promoter to allow their valuable partners to hear it directly from him about the importance of wellness, notes Mittal. “The reason we wanted to host him for the event was because wellness is a big priority for all of us now, and a healthy body can really look at creating a healthy mind and hence healthy business. We do a lot of events with Milind Soman and other wellness promoters too. We also tied up with Stepthalon – wherein across APAC we were engaged from the hotel’s front and from the area of the business front. We at Marriott want to provide more and more experiences to our guests through such events,” highlights Mittal.
Milind Soman also opines that Marriott has been very supportive of the various endeavours that he is spearheading to promote wellness across the country. “They are very supportive for Pinkathon in various cities and we are looking at more opportunities through this association. We are always looking for good partners and Marriott has been a good partner to help us promote fitness and wellbeing,” says Soman.
Furthermore, Marriott International eyes to provide 360-degree experiences to their guests be it leisure or MICE traveller markets, reiterates Mittal. “For example, in this year’s M-Cube being hosted at Le Meridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa, the way we have created experiences, we have tried doing something different every time and also something that is very engaging including community activities. Our motto is to build maximum brand recall through the experiences that we provide to our guests,” she adds.
In line with Marriott’s motto to promote wellness, interestingly, Westin Hotels & Resorts, part of Marriott International, signed well-known celebrity Disha Patani as its well-being advocate in 2018 for its business in APAC. Through the partnership, Patani appeared in a video series sharing insights on her fitness regime and nutrition.
Weddings as a segment for Marriott
Mittal feels the weddings segment as a market never witnesses recession. Emphasising on Marriott’s efforts to attract more weddings business in India Mittal underscores, “We also witnessed the high potential of this segment and hence introduced ‘Shaadi by Marriott’ in 2017 through which we wanted to convey to the people here that despite being an international hotel company, we do understand the local needs of a wedding and cater to them with due diligence and detail. It has been a huge campaign for us. Also, with our properties in Rajasthan, Mussoorie, Goa, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, and Pune, etc., destination weddings bring potential business for us. And also, within the country, we have 16 brands, with the latest addition being Tribute Portfolio in Kochi. So in terms of weddings we cater to each segment i.e. from uber-luxury to middle-income groups, so we have an option for everybody in India. Moreover, at the back-end, we work closely with wedding specialists to create seamless experiences-driven weddings for our guests. So there has been a huge effort from our side just to convey that Marriott is serious about weddings as a segment.”
With many other big international hotel chains setting up hotels in India in the metros as well as key tier-II, III cities in India to tap the potential MICE business here, replying to a query about the competition faced by Marriott, Mittal concludes, “Competition is always healthy. It challenges you and also brings new opportunities. We do face some competition but with our well-planned strategies and hotels receiving key MICE business, we are well-placed in the competitive market here.”