M!CE show boosts segment

The two-day M!CE Travel Show held in Pune recently aimed at stimulating the segment by creating synergies between corporate buyers and sellers of travel products and services.

Hazel Jain

The seventh edition of the M!CE Travel Show 2022 concluded successfully in Pune recently by enabling more than 1,100 meetings between exhibitors and corporate buyers from across India under one roof. The two-day B2B table top event saw 23 exhibitors meet and interact with 45 key corporate buyers on April 23-24, 2022. Organised by DDP Exhibitions, the exclusive M!CE event plans to replicate this in other cities of India soon. Key exhibitors included Singapore Tourism Board, Oman Air, Oman Convention Bureau and Shangri-La as well as some luxury Indian hotel brands like Ananta Hotels and Resorts Trulyy India Camps & Safaris.

The event also saw a serious panel discussion on Sustainable Business Travel on the first day where panellists discussed the possibilities of reducing carbon emissions while travelling and what entities such as destinations, airlines, hotels and corporates can do towards this goal. Moderated by Mritunjaya Chandra Mohan, Senior Manager – Corporate Travel, Palo Alto Networks, an expert on sustainability, the panellists included GB Srithar, Regional Director, India, Middle East & South Asia, Singapore Tourism Board; Pratima Badhwar, Head of Commercial India & South Asia at Accor; Ritam Saha, Manager, Passenger & Cargo Services, India, Nepal & Bhutan International Air Transport Association (IATA); Gaurav Shekhar Nagwekar, Head (Corporate Travel & Logistics), Reliance Industries; and Devendra Saraiya, Travel – Deloitte Shared Services India.

Introducing the topic was industry influencer Jyothi Varma. She said, “Sustainable travel is a very relevant and important topic today. Everyone is worried about how to go about being sustainable. It is about the environment, it is about recycling and reducing our carbon footprint as a corporate wherever we can.”

Kicking off the discussion, moderator of the session, Mritunjaya Chandra Mohan said that ‘sustainability’ has become a buzzword today. “The pandemic gave an opportunity to many corporate companies to rethink about the environment and sustainability, apart from safety of employees and overall travel cost,” he said. Sharing results of a survey, he said that 36.2% of corporates out of the 316 global travel buyers say that the commitment to sustainability has increased post pandemic. However, 14.9% of them say that their company does not have carbon reduction target and does not expect to implement them which means they still are not ready to touch this topic.

Leading the conversation to hotels, Mohan added that a lot of big hotel chains have been quietly working on becoming eco-certified and green hotels, which is now a necessity. Sharing initiatives from Accor,

Pratima Badhwar, said, “Nowadays every hotel chain has its own sustainability goal. And every hotel has to run as business unit its operations sustainably. At Accor, we have taken up this initiative very early on. In 2005 or so, we had launched a project for it. Cut to now, that initiative is called ‘Planet 2021’. We have a target net carbon zero footprint by 2050. We even have a Global Chief Sustainability Officer who looks after this.”

What are corporates doing?
Sharing some details about what Deloitte India as a corporate is doing towards this, Devendra Saraiya, says, “There are two parts to sustainability. One if that you just want to create a brand value of your company and the other part is that you are actually helping the cause. At Deloitte India, we are seriously looking at sustainability initiatives and the biggest contributor of emissions is travel.”

Sharing some insights on what Reliance as a corporate has been witnessing of late, Gaurav Shekhar Nagwekar said, “There was a recent study conducted that specifically mentioned how corporate travel is going to evolve. Interestingly, it mentioned that 20% of corporate travel don’t want to come back, specifically from the IT sector. The other 20% of the sector – which is pharma, banking, etc, never left. The remaining 60% is in a dilemma and are not sure if they want to have MICE movements. These are the ground realities. For Reliance, we are also looking at mitigating carbon footprint. We have started tighter travel restrictions with immediate effect and look at how best and which department should actually travel. Secondly, we want to move to accommodation options that have sustainability goals. This doesn’t just include star hotels. I have some disagreement about air travel being one of the largest reason for emissions. I believe it is the ground transportation, specially when we speak about India.”

Walking the talk
Sharing ideas about how a destination can do its bit towards this goal, GB Srithar underlined what Singapore is doing in this area. He said, “It’s a huge challenge. It is such a serious, necessary, existential topic of the hour. Thankfully, for Singapore, it has been on the minds of our leaderships – both political and public and private sector partnerships. Singapore is the only country in the world to have a net zero vehicle growth rate.” Ritam Saha said, “What IATA and its member airlines have done today is that we have adopted a mission called ‘Fly Net Zero’ and it is targeted at reducing carbon emissions to zero by 2050.”

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