I am happy to present another guest blog from Andrea to all those European destinations and suppliers, who have not looked into the Indian market yet or that have decided to concentrate their marketing efforts in tourism and MICE on other “emerging” markets.

I find Andrea’s observations being in-depth and considerate and carried forward by the true wish to improve working relationships to a level offering a sustainable win-win for both sides involved – that of the suppliers in Europe as well as as for the clients in India.

Andrea Sigoni and Claudia Cocolin are the owners of Polo Marco Experience Ltd. DMC. They focus exclusively on the Indian and Asian market with great seriosity and effort, offering programs alover Europe to Indian event planners. http://www.polomarcoexperience.com/

“As I wrote in a previous memo, it is a matter of fact that nowadays Europe and India, as far as MICE is concerned, are still quite distant one from another. Maybe it is worth analysing deep down the reasons for this distance, especially if there is a common interest to reduce it, and considering that the readers of this memo are all professionals, I would say that this interest is here, from both sides.
I anticipate that my analysis is intentionally “made by the axe”, leaving aside innumerable specifics which could be contradictory – and for sure there are many! – because I want to project as much as possible just the “overall” figure. So let’s have a look to the two parties.

In India the economy is flourishing and therefore also the outbound travel market is positively affected, growing fast as few others in the world and more than one fourth of it is solely for MICE. So finally, after years and years of just Asian countries as travel destinations, now also Europe has started to become really desirable and “at reach”: its overall offer, with no rival in the world in terms of cultural and natural heritage, has become a real strong enticement. Although it remains more expensive than other destinations, Indian corporates more and more are willing to taste and indulge in an “exotic” European experience in order to assure the kind of rewards, recognition and visibility that is often needed in a context where competition in their respective industries has become stiff… and Europe and European lifestyle are still a reference point for anybody everywhere in the world!
Said that, if the “bridge” to fill the gap has not been built yet, it means that something is not working as it could/should… I cannot say exactly what/why, because I do not belong to that party; what I can do is to provide suggestions about possible improvements to get anyhow better results, seen by the eyes of the “other side” (and this will be the subject of my next memo).
What instead I know much better is the point of view of/in Europe.

The Indian MICE market seems to be quite interesting because very big and very fast growing. Period.
Yes: period.
There is no real understanding of what this market implies, of what kind of travellers it is really made of, which are its triggers, which are the drivers, the real needs, the expectations and so forth. And therefore no idea of what is really needed to be done in order to welcome and manage it properly.
The reason for this ignorance is quite easy to understand: there are also other interesting clients to serve. Rich economies in the world are Brazil, Russia, China if we look at the emerging ones, or USA to name an already developed one. All of them are different one from another, but all of them have one thing in common: they require a much lower level of effort to work with than India!

Brazil has deep roots in Portuguese (= European) culture; Russia in this moment has rouble’s depreciation, but in any case is itself, largely, integral part of the European territory and culture, and Russian travellers have been known to the European travel industry for long time (they started to reach the Adriatic seaside resorts by buses and with extremely poor budgets already more than 20 years ago, now they come by charter flights just for shopping or even by private jets). The USA, living now vice versa a good revamping phase, are Anglo-Saxon in their soul and with long-time relations with Europe in the tourism sector, thus also their “European travel culture” has matured through the decades, so many Americans have become very keen on European history, gastronomy, wine culture… but, above all, Europeans have learnt very well how to deal with them. The most different and difficult market nowadays is China. But this country, even though with thousands of differentiations and contradictions, has abandoned its former regime to quickly jump onto a well-established system which is, fundamentally, the American capitalist one (otherwise its tremendous fast growth could not even be explained…). For Europeans this means that the ways to understand and work with China are not easy, but are largely known already, also thanks to the fact that the first Chinese tourists have started to travel around Europe more than 10 years ago when the de-localization manufacturing processes started towards their country. And nowadays, as far as tourism is concerned, there are even “Certified Chinese Host” quality labels that have been developed jointly by Chinese and European institutions. So, also compared even to Chinese, at the end of the day, the Indian visitor has just the language (English) in his favour…

Considering all the above, India is still really in a position to be attractive, yet “not so attractive” like other countries.
The potential of its “new social structure” is not yet fully exploited abroad and, above all, the cultural gap it has with Europe requires a very high level of effort to be overtaken.
As a consequence Europeans do not invest much to work with Indians; they see it overall as a waste of time/energy.

Of course mine is a generic consideration and fortunately there are exceptions, in some cases really excellent exceptions and also extensive exceptions (e.g. Switzerland).
But my remark refers primarily to the tourism market which, compared to all the other sectors, is quite lazy. This “laziness” is common to all the tourism destinations and derives from the fact that they all have, and some more than others, a “monopoly” position: in fact if you want to see the Coliseum you have to go to Rome, nowhere else; as well as you want to visit the Taj Mahal you have to go to Agra. That’s it. And monopolies, it is well known, never help people to change their mind and attitude quickly… This is the ground, again generally speaking, where the European MICE sector, and tourism in general, are nowadays.

For sure Indian demand and European supply will “fully” intersect one day, but there is the risk that this will happen very (too) late in the future. And it would be a real pity!
For Europe because a big opportunity would be lost, and not only for potential incomes but also for innovation and development.
For India because the desires and aspirations of many potential “users” (of Europe) would remain just childhood dreams for a long time yet.

We have to consider that in this century we’ll have India, like many Asian economies, flourishing and with people full of energy and a thriving spirit, and on the other hand the slow “old-lady Europe”, lacking instead that spirit and more conservative. So “easy clients” will still come first because they are “energy-saving”.
Furthermore these clients have been already “seating at the table” for long time, are well known and are also satisfied by much “easier menus” than what is required by “client India”.
So, if we really want to give a boost to filling in the gap, “having the waiter coming for the order soon and even offering the chef’s secret specialities of the day, realizing that the client trusts the relationship and the advice”, then we – both supply and demand – have to roll up our sleeves and start to cooperate, moving towards each other and trusting each other!”

Please check tmf India’s news platform “The Experiential Planner” to learn more about global destinations and suppliers that have a real interest in developing business from India or contact me for further information! http://www.experientialplanner.com/

 [Johanna Fischer, Managing Director, tmf dialogue marketing]

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