Corporate conferences return to 5-star hotels, Retail News, ET Retail

Corporate conferences return to 5-star hotelsNew Delhi: Five-star hotels are starting to see a trickle of corporate conferences returning as the number of Covid-19 cases declines and the vaccination drive in India picks up pace.

Last week, ICICI Lombard conducted a “hybrid” conference at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi with about three-dozen participants maintaining social distancing while hundreds attended the event virtually.

A retail real estate strategy meeting was held in late January with participants divided into three batches of 50 each for the day-long conference at the Andaz Hotel in New Delhi’s Aerocity.

Samsung organised an exhibition last month to showcase its latest products to distributors and dealers in batches of 10 people in a five-star hotel.

State Bank of India, Yes Bank, Zee, M3M and Exchange4Media, among other companies, have all conducted functions in hotels in various cities in recent weeks.

ICICI Lombard has conducted two “phygital” events – one each in Mumbai and in New Delhi.

“We conducted an event in Mumbai in January 2021 wherein 25 people participated physically while more than 5,000 attendees viewed the event through the virtual mode,” said Sanjeev Mantri, executive director of ICICI Lombard. “We leverage technology platforms to create a 3D rendition of the event thereby making it look as close to what one would witness in a real-world scenario.”

The return of company conferences in hotels is a much-needed boost for the beleaguered sector, which was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.

“We believe that the trend is encouraging and will only rise further,” said Manish Tolani, commercial director for Hilton India, which operates 20 hotels in 14 cities. “It is evident that meeting in-person to collaborate and drive organisational culture is valued extensively. Since meetings and events are important focus areas for our recovery efforts, this is a very positive sign for our business.”

Vipin Sharma, director of event management company Craftsman Solutions, said his company used to organise hundreds of events in hotels for corporate clients every year until the pandemic brought it to halt.

“Enquiries have now started coming from January,” Sharma said.

Hotels are trying to ensure that all anti-coronavirus protocols are in place, including rapid Covid-19 tests for employees and vendors, seating arrangements and total hygiene at the venues.

Companies are now planning bigger events with more participants. Images Group has lined up a couple of retail events. In the first week of May, Images plans to hold a shopping centre conference with 100-150 people and that will be followed by another retail event in September.

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