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‘’VisitEngland is keen to work with various stakeholders in the MICE market’’

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Considering that England has a long historic relationship with India, how does VisitEngland view the India market?

Reem Khokhar

Whether to visit friends or relatives; to study; to conduct business; or to holiday, England remains a key outbound destination for Indian visitors. At VisitEngland, we’re keen to get visitors to explore more of England, especially for business visits and events. The MICE market in India will find so many great options for events, meetings, conferences, exhibitions and incentives across the country and this is an area we are keen to work with various stakeholders on.

For most Indians England has always been about London. How does VisitEngland plan to change this perception?

Creating awareness about the various destinations, venues and events across England is what we are working on. Corporate hospitality groups around sports events like the upcoming Champions Trophy 2013 or the British Golf Open Championship in 2014 or Wimbledon; high end incentive groups who are looking along with their meetings or conference for distinctive experiences. Whether it is doing an event at Warwick Castle with a medieval theme or a gala dinner at the impressive Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the world’s oldest steamship; hiring hot air balloons at the International Balloon Fiesta in Bristol where the group can sail into the air along with hundreds of hot air balloons in a spectacular mass ascent; being entertained by a Beatles tribute band over a cocktail reception at the Beatles Story in Liverpool; bungee jumping in Manchester, coasteering in Devon and Cornwall or racing around the Silverstone circuit. For conferences, the fantastic cities of Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and Brighton have purpose built conference centres, a great selection of accommodation and unique venues for receptions or gala dinners as well as great entertainment, nightlife and dining options.

What are the promotions VisitEngland has planned for the Asia market and India in particular?

In India, we intend on working with the MICE trade including travel management companies, event managers, conference organisers, etc as well as engage with corporates and international associations based in India. Creating awareness of the variety of MICE venues and experiences available not just in London, but all of England is what we are working on. MICE brochures on England with some MICE travel trade partners; hosting MICE trade and corporate networking events in a few cities; participating in various MICE B2B events through the year; organising FAM trips; training workshops and sales missions are some of the ways in which we are highlighting and promoting business travel into England. Delhi (NCR), Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Pune are some of the cities where we are engaging with corporates and MICE trade; but also key cities like Ahmedabad and areas like Punjab.

We attend several B2B shows in Asia, and are working on opportunities generated with some of the key contacts we meet through these shows. Doing specific MICE supplements with some Asia-Pacific publications and exploring regional press trip opportunities are some of the ways in which we intend on working with the larger Asia-Pacific region. Tapping the international associations based in this region who host their annual conferences in the European region, is something we will be working on and identify the opportunities for bringing some of those conferences to England.

The Beatles have been quite popular in India too and so is the Glastonbury Music Festival. Are you planning to promote any music related tours in the India market?

We don’t currently have any music related promotions planned, but exploring corporate hospitality opportunities around cultural festivals or doing a Beatles tour of Liverpool or a cocktail reception at the Beatles Story in Liverpool for a corporate group, or music tours of various cities are some of the opportunities that we will weave into the content we promote as part of MICE/incentive itineraries; advertisements; brochures and any other promotional material we produce.

Any other niche products VisitEngland is planning to promote in the region?

The distinctive and high quality of experiences available for business visits and events. Especially for frequent business travellers who are looking for different meeting venues or a special experience for their group, everything from castle experiences to corporate hospitality around sports events or cultural festivals; how all leisure opportunities double up as opportunities for corporate events and venues – there is really no dearth of great experiences available across England.