Monthly Archives: May 2015

Resilient Leaders are Strong in Tough Times

Resilient Leaders are Strong in Tough Times

In tough times, we tend to stand like the proverbial “deer in headlights,” muttering “the sky is falling,” or else spring into action. The latter would be fine, except that the action is often a knee-jerk response based on what we’ve done in the past, even though the present doesn’t look like the immediate past.

Whether you’re leading a Fortune 100 company, a small team, or an enterprise of one, now is the time to hone your resiliency skills. One definition of resiliency is “the capability of a strained body to recover after stress.” But I define resiliency as “the capacity to cultivate strengths to positively meet the challenges of living; the ability to bounce back from adversity while maintaining personal and corporate integrity.”

Strength in HOPE

Some key resilient strengths are found in using HOPE as an acronym:

  • Head talk and Heart walk. Head talk asks that we critically explore our think ing process. Are we stuck in out-moded patterns of behaviors that no longer serve us? What assumptions are we making and what actions can we take if the assumptions are confirmed? What resources can we call upon? How have we nurtured our relationships and support network? Are we being honest with ourselves about our own fears? What voices do we need to listen to even if we don’t want to? Heart walk is truth in action. It means we keep our word. Trust is the password of our time. It is also the cornerstone of relationships. Since an inability to get along is the single biggest reason for failure, heart walk builds relationships through connecting at more than cerebral levels.
  • Optimism. Optimism arises from our anticipation of a positive outcome as well as our ability to help produce that outcome. Dr. Martin Seligman’s research indicates that optimism can be learned by listening carefully to our internal dialogue and challenging negative beliefs. Learned Optimism is a book that should be on everyone’s reading list.
  • Purpose, passion and persistence. Purpose, passion and persistence work like a three-legged stool in holding up a resilient leader. Purpose implies that you have a reason for being on this earth and it is not “all about you”. Since the odds of a human egg being fertilized are 220 trillion to one, you are not a mistake. If purpose is the “why” you are here, passion is the “what”. It’s that activity that gets your juices flowing. Somehow, somewhere, it must be in your life. Find a way to put passion there, and then persist in the doing. Pablo Casals knew he was put on earth for music. His passion was the cello. Even severely crippled with arthritis, his resilient spirit persisted through the pain and he played like an angel.
  • Energy and enjoyment. Energy and enjoyment spark up the human engine. In complex times, our energy sources need to be renewed and refreshed. Sleep, exercise, solitude, and meditation pump the exhausted spirit with the octane of resiliency. Play and laughter are birthrights of the human spirit. Laughter is the canary of hope. If the laughter has died, so too has your resiliency. Lighten up. Find what’s zany about life. Watch children at play. Don’t take life so seriously-you won’t get out of it alive.

Philosopher Howard Zinn wrote that to have hope, we don’t need certainty, only possibility. In an upside down world, there are many possibilities for positive change and growth. Let HOPE support your resilient spirit.

Posted in Management and Leadership

Five Roles of a Leader

Five Roles of a Leader

As a leader, you must interact with your people everyday to inspire them to convert their vision into action, into reality. That reality depends on the versatility you display in the different roles you play. As a leader, you perform functions that require knowledge, attitudes, and skills ranging from creating a vision to raising funds to creating alliances, to developing your people, and transmitting information.

Can you be a manager and a leader the same time? Can you play different roles in the exercise of leadership? While designing a learning program develop leadership competences, we looked at the realities to which leaders are exposed and drafted a model, “The Hand of the Leader”, explain the five roles every leader must master. Let’s examine these five roles:

  1. Manager: As a manager, you seek and manage the necessary resources, coordinate actions, generate results, measure and control, report, ensure quality of processes, goods and services.
  2. Visionary: As a visionary, you create the vision, create the means to communicate it effectively, emotionally and rationally inspire your team members, and act as an agent of change.
  3. Coach: As a coach, you act as an athletic scout, seeking talent, developing successors, expanding potential through coaching-style interactions.
  4. Educator: As an educator, you transfer information, knowledge and experience through conferences, talks, workshops or instructive conversations develop team competencies and the intellectual capital of the organization.
  5. Ambassador: As an ambassador, you form strategic alliances for mutual support; plan effective strategies to develop media and inter-institutional relations; and promote the philosophy, history and services of your organization.

The myth that a manager cannot be leader appears to be fading as the roles of leaders are being assumed by individuals who may be highly skilled only in one of the five roles, but gain proficiency in the rest and achieve a balance needed to achieve critical objectives.

The “Hand of the Leader”, on which the thumb represents the manager, the index finger the visionary, the middle finger the coach, the ring finger the educator, and the little finger the ambassador, allows you to observe and analyze your performance and results in each role.

The Hidden Role

The “hidden role” is represented by the wrist, which gives flexibility and mobility to the hand and consequently to the fingers (roles).

This sixth role, like a sixth sense, is the role of learner. As a learner, you proactively seek to improve yourself, not only through information, but also through attitudes and abilities to become better at directing yourself and others.

You must learn to master these six roles to achieve positive results in terms of quality, effectiveness, productivity, profitability, and enjoyment.

Ask yourself: How good am I at each of these roles. What do I have to learn or change to be better in each role?

By using the “Hand of the Leader” as a guide, you can see how versatile and balanced you are as a leader, and you can improve your performance to better influence your people and impact your bottom line. We all need leaders who are aware of their own strengths, who improve themselves, and help their people and organizations succeed.

Posted in Management and Leadership

How to Enhance Your Power

How to Enhance Your Power

Here are four ways to enhance our ability to use power wisely:

  1. Teach others to use power wisely and transform them into partners. Teach them to ask the questions, who, what, when, where, and why to evaluate problems. Review problems from an intellectual and emotional standpoint. As you motivate and inspire people to action, you create a partnership because you share power.
  2. Go where the people are. Communicate directly with people. Ensure that others are not intimidated or punished when they express honest opinions. Don’t hide behind titles, office doors, financial successes, or an autocratic demeanor. Be accessible.
  3. Share knowledge. Knowledge shared is knowledge multiplied. When you share knowledge, you empower people to act on their own. Shared knowledge enables people to take a risk, expand an idea, and venture to a new horizon.
  4. Seek opposites. Don’t surround yourself with people who resemble you, who have similar beliefs and biases. Seek contrasts—people who have the skills and abilities you need, not just those who duplicate your talents.

You must use different kinds of power for different people and situations. Learn to be flexible, fair, ethical, and judicious. To be a leader who makes a difference, you must use your power wisely.

Posted in Education and Career Life Hacks and Productivity

Byzantine Architecture & Spiritual Glory of Hagia Sophia

The vast, echoing interior of Hagia Sophia

For 900 years, this mountainous hulk of a building was a Christian cathedral, then for 500 years a Muslim mosque. It has not only felt the tread of mighty emperors and sultans, but also suffered the cruel predations of invading armies. Indeed, for a place of worship, Hagia Sophia (“Holy Wisdom”) bears more than its fair share of scars. Many of its once-glorious Byzantine mosaics have been either damaged or destroyed, while its sumptuous Islamic carpets have been rolled up and removed, following the building’s conversion into a museum in 1935.

Today the two religions co-exist inside, locked in a state of suspended disharmony. Gigantic wooden discs, bearing the names of Allah and his prophet Muhammad, stare across at restored gold images of Christ Pantocrator (“All Powerful”). One faith (Islam) forbids the representation of the human or divine form, the other (Christianity) exults in it, and here the contradiction finds dramatic expression.

Hagia Sophia, Ayasofya Museum, Istanbul But while the works of art on the walls may give off conflicting messages, the building itself communicates an aura of might, with its sturdy stone columns, echoing marble floors and great slabs of stone from across the Mediterranean world (Egyptian porphyry, black stone from the Bosphorus, yellow from Syria). The great central dome soars 180 feet above the floor, pierced by 40 windows, through which stream shafts of light, giving the effect that it is floating, weightless, suspended by some heavenly force. The Hagia Sophia was rebuilt at the orders of Emperor Justinian in 537 CE. Then, for 900 years, Hagia Sophia had been the center of Orthodox Christianity until 1453 when the city was concurred by Ottomans. 500 years following the conquest of Muslims, it became a jewel for the Muslim world and as the grand mosque of the sultans.

It took 10,000 laborers to build this immense structure, and by the time it was officially consecrated in 537 CE, it was already the third Christian cathedral to have been built on this site (the first was in 360 CE). Since then Hagia Sophia has endured the very worst that humankind (wars and looting) and nature (fires and earthquakes) can visit upon it. And it is still standing.

Hagia Sophia was chosen a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1985. Hagia Sophia has became one of the most important monuments on the planet with its architecture and historical richness.

Posted in Travels and Journeys

Luxury Scales Stratospheric Heights in Enchanting Dubai

The Palm Islands are two artificial islands in Dubai

Luxury scales stratospheric heights in the El Dorado of Asia. Here’s a round-up of everything that’s top-shelf.

All that plastic weighing down your wallet. Oh, don’t you just want to burn some of it, max out the spending, the experience, the pleasure … in short, sink into the sort of extreme luxury only money can buy. We’re not talking free hugs, sunsets and a shared sandwich (nice though they are). We’re talking gold shoes, caviar facials and helicopter pick-ups from the airport. Few places in the world do luxury like Dubai. Here’s a short tour of what you can do with the spare millions.

Gold, gold, gold … That’s the unofficial theme color of Dubai. It’s everywhere, and in everything, from cars to cupcakes. Last year, the city announced the proposed sale of a Lamborghini Aventador made from a solid 500kg block of yellow gold and encrusted with gemstones. Anyone wishing to buy wheels like this should jingle around $7.5 million (Dirham 27.5 million) in small change in their pocket. A buyer hasn’t been announced yet, so you might be able to take this baby home.

Jumeirah Zabeel Saray - Voda Bar in Dubai

If you like to be fashionably coordinated with your supercar, pick up a pair of Alberto Moretti’s 24 carat gold shoes (Dirham 19,500) from Level Shoe District, the luxury footwear universe inside Dubai Mall. There is one design each for the lady and the gentleman—a pair of high-heeled pumps and a pair of loafers in Alberto Moretti’s signature dandy style.

Want a bite now? Bloomsbury’s, a gourmet cafe in Dubai Mall, had a commemorative gold cupcake (Dirham 3,700 approx.) named ‘The Golden Phoenix’ when we last dropped by. Every ingredient used, goes without saying, is premium, and everything on the plate is wrapped in edible gold sheets.

To get kitted out with some accessories to match your car, shoes and cupcakes, a brief whirl around the Paris Gallery will do. This luxury accessories store, present in several major malls, has what looks like acres of watch displays, miles of perfume shelves, yards and yards of gorgeous handbags and wallets. The store’s personal shopper service ensures that your limousine doesn’t have to wait too long to whisk you off to a gold or caviar facial appointment. Drop a bottle of Roberto Cavalli’s Gold for Her EDP (Dirham 390) into your bag. You’ll want it later; we’re coming to that.

Luxury Hotels View In Dubai

Joyful Rides

We hope you had a pleasant arrival at the hotel on your last trip to Dubai? Did your Rolls Royce have to stop at one or two traffic signals? Well, this time, just take the helicopter. The airport pickup service offered by Burj Al Arab gives you a panoramic view of Dubai before the copter touches down at the hotel’s helipad on level 28. The Royal Two Bedroom Suite (Dirham 29,200) at Burj Al Arab has its personal elevator (no need to inhale someone else’s perfume), own cinema room, 24-hour butler service, private bars, two full-size Jacuzzis, and a 24 carat gold iPad for the guest during the stay. In case you’re a fussy sleeper, the suite has 17 types of pillows.

A power nap later, it’s time to let the fun begin. Before bidding for the gold Lamborghini, you’ll want to get a feel of being in the driving seat of a supercar, right? Dubai Autodrome (from Dirham 590) has a choice of beauties: Ferrari F430; Ferrari 458 Italia; Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560; Lamborghini Aventador (Yes! That one!) and several others.

Racing fingers flexed, take to the air again in a charter hot air balloon (from Dirham 11,450 for a group of eight). The balloon takes you soaring above the desert, a breath-taking spectacle that gives the lie to the notion that money can’t buy happiness.

Cavalli Club Dubai

Evening Out

You need spa time before putting on your gold shoes and spritzing on Gold for Her before the night-out at Cavalli Club. So, we recommend the bespoke facial by Margie Lombard at the Talise Ottoman Spa in Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, a resort on Palm Jumeirah, Dubai. The Dirham 25,000 facial includes a 24-carat gold chain mask that regenerates and firms skin. The facial is followed by a gold hamam (Turkish bath) and a gourmet caviar lunch. If you’d rather put caviar on your face, the spas at Shangri-La Dubai and Fairmont Dubai have it for Dirham 800 approximately.

Fairmont Dubai is right next door to Cavalli Club, a world of absolutely OTT glam created by designer Roberto Cavalli. If you came in head-to-toe gold, guests wouldn’t even blink—and, indeed, your golden shine would have to compete with the glitter of megatons of Swarovski crystals suspended from the club’s ceiling. Dance the night away, but don’t leave a shiny slipper behind. You don’t need Prince Charming. Dubai is enough.

Emirates Airlines First Class Suites

Experiencing Enchanting Dubai

  • Flying. Emirates first class is the comfiest way of getting to the El Dorado of Asia. The first class private suites, available on all Emirates A380 and Airbus A340-500 aircraft, and most Boeing 777 aircraft have a sliding door for privacy, a personal mini-bar, vanity table, mirror and wardrobe. The seat converts into a flat bed with a mattress.
  • Visa. For Indians, the Dubai Visa Processing Centre handles visa procedures for all types of travel. Visa fee is about $80.
  • Currency. l Emirati Dirham (AED) = 0.27 USD
  • Where to stay. The most iconic experience is at the Burj Al Arab where you can arrive by helicopter (one-way airport helicopter transfer Dirham 10,000 for one passenger and Dirham 1,500 for every additional passenger, maximum of 4 passengers; flight time 15 mins). The recent entrant The Oberoi Dubai has a magnificent Presidential Suite with a view of Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world, from its private plunge pool. For a very relaxed, family-oriented luxury vacation, check into Fairmont The Palm on Palm Jumeirah.
  • What to see and do. Get a top personal shopper. Luxury shopping is more fun and fruitful with a knowledgeable insider. So, ring for Derek Khan, who is a Dubai-based lifestyle consultant and personal shopper to the city’s wealthiest residents.
  • Charter a yacht. Dubai loves water, loves to live near it. While there are several yacht charter companies, Xclusive Yachts has a particularly nice fleet, its boats going from 48 ft to a massive 125 ft.
  • What to buy. If there’s still a little gap in your suitcase that you need to fill, the one standout item to buy is the $3.8 million purse. This heart-stopping, heart-shaped item from the House of Mouawad is romantically named the ‘1001 Nights Diamond Purse’. Made from 18 carat gold and embedded with 4,517 diamonds weighing almost 382 carats. You can’t just pick it up, though. The purse takes 8,800 hours to make. Place an order and plan your next Dubai trip.
Posted in Airlines and Airliners Music, Arts, and Culture Travels and Journeys

Monty Python’s Cheese Shop Skit

In this hilarious Cheese Shop skit from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, an increasingly exasperated veddy English customer played by John Cleese goes through a long list of varieties of cheeses with the shopkeeper, Mr. Wensleydale played by Michael Palin, only to find that this shop has no actual cheese to sell. Also see full script and list of cheese mentioned in the skit.

Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture

The Tallest Free-standing Stone Sculpture of Gommateshwara in Shravanabelagola

Gommateshvara in Shravanabelagola

The statue of Gommateshvara at Shravanabelagola, the tallest free standing stone sculpture in the world has given a unique and international cultural status to Karnataka.

Shravanabelagola is the most sacred religious centre of the Jains. It has a hoary antiquity dating back to the third century B.C., when Bhadrabahu along with the Maurya king Chandragupta came and settled down here. From then on many Karnataka dynasties like the Gangas of Talakad, the Chalukyas, the Hoysalas, the rulers of Vijayanagara and others patronised this Jaina sacred place.

However, it was during the period of Ganga king Rachamalla IV (973–999 A.D.), the place became famous because his minister Chamundaraya consecrated this image of Gommateshvara on the summit of the hill commanding a picturesque view of the whole area. A large number of Jaina temples were built here at different periods by various dynasties which have made this center an open air museum of Jaina art.

Colossal Image of Bahubali in Shravanabelagola The real attraction of Shravanabelagola is the colossal image of Bahubali also known as Gommateshvara. Its height is 57 feet and is the tallest stone sculpture in the world. The image is nude and stands facing north; in an erect yogic posture. The serene expression of the face is remarkable. The hair is curly and the ears are long, the shoulders being broad and the arms hang down straight with the thumbs turned outwards. The lower portion adds majesty and grandeur. The entire image stands on a pedestal which is in the form of a lotus. The foot measures nine feet in length; the toes are 2 feet 9 inches; the middle finger is 5 feet 3 inches; the forefinger is 3 feet 6 inches; third finger is 4 feet 7 inches; the fourth finger is 2 feet 3 inches.

Shravanabelagola is a sacred religious centre in Jainism

The face of Gommateshvara is most artistic and is a commentary on the success of the skill of the sculptor who carved it. The eyes are half open and the eye balls appear as if real. This also symbolizes the pensive mood of the saint. The total effect is one of majesty, grace and dignity, and expresses his compassion towards the fellow beings and hence is considered as the best in this type. Gommateshvara has been watching the human beings and their sufferings for the past one thousand years and people are looking at him for guidance for an ethical and religious life. Thus he is inspiring people to follow the path of Dharma. Once in twelve years a special ritual called Mahamastakabhisheka takes place when lakhs of people assemble here to be blessed by the compassionate Gommateshvara.

Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture Travels and Journeys

10 Ways to Improve Your Creative Imagination

  1. Improve Your Creative Imagination If you want to develop your creative imagination you must open your mind to new unexplored paths, think of offbeat ways to tackle a problem, make something that is hard easier.
  2. Be curious about everything—the world is full of amazing wonders for you to learn about. They will become your storehouse of memories and ideas that you can use when needed.
  3. Look deep into the problem you face and imagine different alternatives for solving the problem. Try new paths— don’t accept the status-quo, if you fail at one task try another approach. Take everything with a grain of salt, keep an open mind.
  4. Try to associate with other creative people, people who discuss ideas.
  5. Always be on the lookout for new innovations that you can improve upon. When a new product, device or machine is invented it is already ripe for improving. Technology is always being improved. Just look at the automobile, since it was invented over a hundred years ago it has been constantly improved with thousands of new innovations added.
  6. This goes for any product, there is always room for improvement. Even if you come up with what seems to be a crazy way of solving a problem—write it down anyway—think about it—it may turn out to be a good idea.
  7. Start thinking about writing a story, think of a plot, think up characters for the story, take notes and expand the story over a period of time. Refine and change the story if you want to. Take your time, new ideas will pop out of your subconscious as you think about it. It is your creation you can do anything you want with it, use you imagination.
  8. Whether you are writing music or leading an army into battle keep your mind open for opportunities—new angles—different strategies—if one thing doesn’t work try another.
  9. Develop your interests and natural talents—follow these talents—be curious, learn as much as you can about subjects you are interested in and then improvise, develop, expand them. Follow different off beat paths. If they don’t work try another tack.
  10. Build upon the ideas of other peopleimprove and refine their ideas. It is the fundamental reason for human progress. It created the ‘Mind’ of mankind (the vast network of human minds that continually spread ideas across time and place).
Posted in Mental Models and Psychology

Cultivate a Positive Culture by Celebrating Diversity

Celebrating Diversity

The rise of the global community brings many opportunities and challenges. In the past, community members could communicate with each other, trade with each other, and share a common culture. In the future, communication, trade, and culture will become much more global.

Opportunities for learning will be greater than ever. “Global connectedness” means that we can interact in a way that leads to rapid and positive learning. More information, however, does not necessarily lead to better decisions. Leaders are now hard pressed to make decisions because they have too much information. Hence, editing and accessing relevant information are vital.

We can’t assume that instant information will lead to long-term quality of communication. Today television addiction is a huge problem. In the future, media addiction (especially the Internet) may well pass drug addiction and alcohol addiction as a social problem.

The advantages of global trade are well known. Increased global competition leads to higher-quality products and services at lower prices. Consumers can have access to an incredible diversity of goods that may have been produced anywhere in the world. Poor countries, which have lower labor costs, can “catch up” by doing labor-intensive work that would cost much more in wealthy countries. As the poor countries become more efficient, they gain the purchasing power to buy more goods and services from the rest of the world. The removal of trade barriers leads to an increasingly efficient market.

While, in throry, global trade will create greater product diversity, in practice it sometimes creates greater homogeneity. The “shopping streets” in major cities around the world now look much the same. They tend to have the same clothing, music, and even food. While the stores may have products from more countries, they are becoming the same products. People worldwide are buying the same global brands that are globally advertised, marketed, and distributed. Another cost of global trade may be an increased lack of loyalty and identification with a larger whole.

Cultivate a Positive Culture

Increased access to information means that more cultural opportunities are available to more people. Cultural access leads to a better understanding not only of art or music, but also of people. Repressive regimes that encourage hatred for others restrict the flow of communication. But by communicating with people of diverse backgrounds, we quickly learn that negative ethnic stereotypes are invalid. Open communication can lead to a world where diversity is celebrated and the ethnic hatred and violence is reduced.

While the global culture has great potential benefits, it can also have great costs. People around the world are much more likely to look alike, act alike, and sound alike. We are becoming as concerned with “cultural extinction” as we are today with the extinction of plant and animal species.

Attempts at stopping the flow of communication, trade, or culture may produce short-term successes but are doomed to failure for two reasons: 1) the Internet is global, and so information that is censored in one country will be quickly duplicated in another country; and 2) almost all brilliant young people who are developing new technology believe in the free flow of information, do not like censorship, and are not intimidated by government edict. Attempts to protect noncompetitive industries or workers produces a shortterm benefit but does not stop the development of better and cheaper products. Attempts to force trade restrictions on unwilling partners are destined to fail. Attempts to restrict access to any product often leads to greater desirability.

Posted in Management and Leadership

Meetings, Incentive Conferences, and Exhibitions: Vibrant New Destinations

As the economic scenario improves and business sentiment picks up, there’s a buzz in India’s outbound MICE (Meetings, Incentive Conferences, and Exhibitions) market. While the travel industry gears up to keep pace with the growth in demand, we track the vibrant destinations that are soaring high.

With changing dynamics in the global economic scenario, emerging economies in Asia and the Middle East are fast becoming important business destinations; rapid development and huge investments in infrastructure and manufacturing, IT services, healthcare, hospitality and many other sectors. As a consequence, increase in business activities have led to a boom in the travel sector’s MICE (Meetings, Incentive, Conferences and Exhibitions) segment, which is all set to record good growth. “Despite the economic slowdown over the last few years, cost sensitivities and tightening of budgets by most corporates, our MICE business has seen a superlative performance of over 25-30 per cent growth year-on-year. The bragging rights and strong appeal of “foreign” travel works like magic as a reward and performance incentive. Hence, the growth trajectory of MICE is a real and a strongly viable one,” says Rajeev Kale, President and COO, MICE, Domestic, Sports Holidays, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.

Karan Anand, Head, Relationships, Cox & Kings Ltd, concurs with him. “The MICE market is dominated by the Incentive business. We see this business growing at approximately 25-30 per cent year-on year. The Meetings and Exhibition business will grow at a steady pace of 20 per cent. Overall, it looks very positive,” he states.

Gardens by the Bay Park in Singapore

Good infrastructure, excellent connectivity, hotels, convention and conference centers to accommodate large crowds are the hallmarks of a good MICE destination, opines travel consultant Munish Talreja. Preferential air fares, special accommodation, transportation rates, custom, immigration facilitation and adequate facilities for all sizes of conventions, meetings, etc. make countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Dubai a viable MICE option. These destinations are apt for Indian companies as they offer distinct advantages like short travelling time, world-class infrastructure, good connectivity and numerous tourist attractions at competitive rates.

Per the Union of International Associations’ (UIA) 2012 Global Rankings, Singapore has been ranked as the world’s foremost city and country for international meetings, titles the city-state is holding for the third and seventh consecutive year, respectively. Its popularity as a MICE destination lies in its pro-business environment and strategic location within Asia, which creates a valuable platform for collaboration and exchange, while creating a springboard from which to expand further into the region. Singapore’s strong knowledge economy also sets the stage for many thought leadership events. Added to this is the city’s world-class MICE facilities, easy accessibility to a wide variety of leisure offerings as well as attractive incentive schemes.

“From a business perspective, companies take their employees on MICE events for knowledge-sharing, networking, brainstorming—all of which require a clutter-free, rejuvenating environment. In that sense, Singapore and London fit the bill; Singapore mainly because of the ease and convenience in reaching the destination, the comfort and hygiene it offers,” Ashutosh Labroo, Director (Human Capital), ISS India, points out.

According to sources from Singapore Tourism, in 2013, approximately one quarter of Indian visitors to Singapore went there for business or MICE purposes, with the segment contributing about 54 per cent of the India’s total tourism receipts. With positive sentiments within the Indian market and the increase in opportunities to collaborate between both countries, this number is expected to increase in the long run.

According to Kale, access, budget, duration, climate, MICE infrastructure/facilities and comparative value-driven air and land pricing are factors that influence the selection process of a destination. While short haul destinations are both convenient and hit the value sweet spot, the focus today is more on vibrant new destinations and experiences. “Hence, we’ve seen Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, USA & Canada, Philippines emerging strongly. Of course, the evergreen favorites continue to be Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand,” he cites.

Corporate houses are now seeking new destinations in their budget bands or new locations and experiences in popular destinations. “As India is emerging as the biggest outbound market in the world, many tourism boards and product owners are making a beeline to India. This gives the corporate houses a wider choice and competitive prices,” states Adil Bajirao, Vice President – Tours, Gilpin Tours & Travel Management (India).

Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld, Bangkok, Thailand

The top destinations in terms of numbers continue to be Thailand, Malaysia, and Dubai, according to Anand.

Other destinations that have found favor with corporates are Abu Dhabi, Macau and Hong Kong. In terms of upmarket incentive destinations, Canada, USA and New Zealand are preferred, he says. Thailand has been surging ahead as a favorite tourist spot for some time now. Sources from the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau say they expect to see at least 10 per cent growth in the outbound MICE market from India to Thailand and more importantly, are expecting a rise in high-end groups from India.

  • Thailand has world-class infrastructure and excellent connectivity by air from across India including all the major cities. It offers high-end options to corporates at great value for money. Plans are underway to develop several cities as MICE cities. Currently, Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen have been classified as MICE cities.
  • Malaysia, another key destination, is increasingly becoming the first choice for business events being staged in Asia because it is a microcosm of Asian cultures and business practices. Moreover, it offers competitively-priced facilities, accommodation, transportation and affordable food. “A rich fusion of Asian cultures and culinary delights, spectacular natural attractions and idyllic island resorts continue to inspire and motivate business event visitors in Malaysia. Understanding the importance of the MICE industry to the economy, the Malaysian government through the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau offers various assistance and incentives to organizers of MICE,” Mazlan Harun, Trade Commissioner at MATRADE, the Malaysian government’s National Trade Promotion Agency.
  • The MICE industry has been growing in leaps and bounds in the Middle East too and it has not been affected by recent political disturbances in this area of the world. “Dubai is a well-established market for MICE events, with top-notch infrastructure facilities, superb connectivity and short distance from India. It is facing strong competition from other destinations but has excelled because of its ability to sustain itself with new attractions to woo even repeat travelers to the destination. Abu Dhabi has also been faring very well with full support from the state. Qatar is another promising destination, where good connectivity offered by Qatar Airways and the short distance from India make it a viable option for MICE events,” notes Shaikh Rahmatullah, Director, NAFA Tourism Consultancy.

With changing demographics and stiff competition, motivation requirements are at an all-time high. New unexplored destinations and unique and engaging experiences today are the predominant factors for corporates undertaking MICE travel. “While MICE offers the opportunity to discover new destinations, the added advantage of interest-based activity, team bonding outdoors/soft adventure add up to the unique quotient offering a truly “wow experience”. In order to cater to this demand, many destinations are promoting activities that travelers can engage in. Travelers are lured by destinations such as New Zealand for adventure sports and outdoor fun like white/black water rafting; South Africa for canopy walks and shark dives, Red Sea port city of Eilat in the South of Israel for snorkeling and desert safaris, Morocco for Berber treks and Australia for surfing sand dunes and so on,” explains Kale.

“A few emerging new outbound destinations in the budget category are Vietnam, Cambodia, Abu Dhabi, Philippines, Oman and new locations in existing destinations like Hua Hin or Krabi or Koh Samui or Chiang Mei in Thailand and Penang or Kota Kinabalu or Langkawi in Malaysia to name a few. In the above $875 per person category, Poland, Czech Republic, South Korea, Jordan, Israel are few emerging new destinations. Then, there are new locations in popular destinations like Zermatt or Geneva in Switzerland, Garden route in South Africa, Zanzibar in Tanzania to name a few,” states Bajirao.

Some Popular Meetings, Incentive Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) Destinations

Putrajaya International Convention Centre, Malaysia

Malaysia: Malaysia is strategically located in the world’s largest and fastest growing economic region, with English-speaking yet multilingual population, one of the best value—for money destinations, economically and politically stable environment, excellent accessibility and first-class infrastructure. Some of its renowned convention and exhibition centers are the award-winning Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK). Next to the iconic PETRONAS Twin Towers, the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre is at the heart of over 12,000 hotel rooms, extensive shopping and entertainment facilities, and convenient transport connections. Only an hour-and-a-half’s flight away is the Borneo Convention Centre, which is located in the ecofriendly state of Sarawak, East Malaysia. MATRADE organizes various buying missions in-conjunction with major trade exhibitions in Malaysia. Buyers/ Importers/ Distributors for the following products are welcome to pre-register for the buying missions:

  • Electrical & Electronic Products
  • Fashion, Apparel and Accessories
  • Footwear
  • Furniture
  • Food and beverages
  • Gifts, Souvenirs and Jewelry
  • Household products
  • Machinery and Equipment
  • Oil & Gas
  • Palm Oil Based Products
  • Pharmaceuticals, Toiletries and Cosmetics
  • Plastic Products
  • Rubber Based Products
  • Wood Based Products

Thailand: From budget hotels to the stately Grand Palace, Thailand has something on offer for everyone. It has an array of destinations ranging from the bustling city life in Bangkok, sun -and-sand options like Pattaya, Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi along with hill stations like Chiang Mai – all of these cities offer world-class, state-of – the -art convention venues. Visitors can soak in the mesmerizing beauty of the Emerald Buddha Temple in Bangkok or board a flight to Thailand’s northern capital, Chiang Mai, to experience indigenous Thailand, with luxury award-winning retreats set amongst beautiful lush green paddy fields, jungle experiences and night markets.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong is another favorite destination for MICE events. Its excellent business support infrastructure, good airports, perfect accommodation, and other entertainment and recreation options make it a strong contender. Hong Kong’s proximity to mainland China and is an added advantage. As an international business and trading hub, Hong Kong is home to top-notch hotels and infrastructure. Easy accessibility makes it an ideal destination for MICE events.

Songdo Convensia Convention Center in Incheon, South Korea

Seoul: Apart from excellent meeting facilities and a world-class infrastructure, Seoul offers a rich history, scenic locations and an array of unique recreational attractions to the discerning MICE traveler. Sources from Korean Air, which operates three direct flights a week from Mumbai to Seoul, agree that there has been an increase in the MICE movement from India to Korea. COEX, Kintex and Songdo Convensia are three of its main exhibition/conference areas.

Singapore: Singapore offers an excellent range of state-of-the-art convention centers, exhibition halls, and meeting venues for MICE that suit a variety of needs and budgets. The Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre, newly renovated Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre and the Singapore Expo with its MAX Atria wing, are suitable for large-scale international exhibitions and conferences. Some attractions that integrate MICE facilities together with unique leisure offerings include the S.E.A. Aquarium, The Singapore Zoo, Gardens by the Bay, and Singapore Turf Club to name a few.

Dubai: In just two decades, Dubai has risen from the desert sands to become one of the world’s most recognized destinations. It boasts of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, Palm Jumeirah – the iconic marvel and many malls. Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC) has more than 90,000 square meters of exhibition and meeting space, while four other hotel properties can accommodate conferences for up to 2,000 delegates. Dubai was home to 603 hotel establishments in the first half of 2013 and a total of 81,492 hotel rooms. With recent openings including the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, The Oberoi Dubai, and JA Ocean View Hotel.

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