Qatar’s easy connectivity to various destinations globally, hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and being perceived as “a culturally and historically strong” destination makes the country attractive for Indian MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) travellers, Indian MICE expert Karishma Hundalani has said.
Hundalani, partner and managing director for tmf dialogue marketing in India, has been invited by Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) to conduct a workshop dubbed as Insights for the Indian MICE Market on April 18 at Grand Hyatt Doha.
The event forms part of QTA’s regular industry workshops aimed at empowering local business events stakeholders to bid for and execute large-scale MICE events.
At the workshop, Hundalani will discuss how to approach and secure business events from India in Qatar, according to QTA.
She said, “Based on the research we conducted for QTA, some of the positive perceptions include easy connectivity and favourability towards Qatar Airways because of the connectivity to other destinations and competitive pricing (related to this is the positive perception of Hamad International Airport stated by some as the best in the world).”
The national carrier has direct flights connecting Doha to 13 key cities across India: Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Goa, New Delhi, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Bengaluru, Chennai, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Amritsar and Kolkata. Indian citizens are among those who can enter Qatar visa-free.
“The 2022 FIFA World Cup has created some amount of positive association with the destination and a perception that it is world-class,” Hundalani noted.
Perceived as a destination that is “culturally and historically strong”, she pointed out that “there must be something to explore in Qatar.” “Raising more awareness about those offerings would attract more (Indian) travellers.”
In hosting of a number of international sports and entertainment events, the Indian MICE expert said these “add-on” features of Qatar for attracting Indian MICE are also becoming popular in MICE programmes, saying that corporates need to look at ways to enhance value beyond just travel abroad.
“In addition, if there are group/corporate deals/experiences available for such sports and entertainment events, that becomes an added incentive to consider the destination hosting the event,” Hundalani explained.
About the top three features Indian couples are looking for when planning a destination wedding, she said the features would differ a bit depending on the destinations.
For the Middle East, Hundalani cited a high-end, luxurious hotel property (that lends support on all fronts with the planning), the ability to cater authentic Indian food, or be flexible to allow for Indian chefs to work on the events, and the features of the destination itself – the beach and desert are usual pull-factors for destinations in the region.
About the general timeline for attracting, securing and hosting an Indian MICE event in Qatar, Hundalani said annual MICE programmes by corporates usually have a good enough lead time of six to eight months.
“These are the recurring ones which are usually with the same agency too, so there’s the advantage of planning consecutive editions,” she said. “However, there are equally as many, if not more, MICE programmes from India that have the lead time of two to four months, these usually choose short-haul destinations that are easy to get visa for (Qatar qualifies here).”