MICE & F&B: The Need of the Hour

Amit Modi, CEO, The Bristol Located in Gurugram, The Bristol is a luxury class business hotel spread over an area of 4 acres, and is well-known for its superlative standards of comfort & luxury, along with a variety of restaurants offering delectable cuisines from across the world.

MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions) has been universally recognised in the hospitality industry as one of its key segments. Lately the Indian hospitality industry has experienced drastic reforms making India an important MICE destination on the global map. Hotels are actively making the effort to add a special inventory to suit the industry. India is fast becoming the most-preferred destination for MICE travellers because of its rich cultural heritage and, the enhanced business and leisure travel and staycation experience that hotels offer. An estimated 10-12 percent of hotels generate their revenue through MICE events. MICE activities lead to assistance with the volume of the room revenue and generate business for segments such as F&B; helping increase the total hotel revenue.

MICE has taken on an integral role in today’s business scenario. In the early 2000s, it secured a premium seat in the hotel business when the concept of the smaller room inventory came into the picture and we saw business and boutique hotels venturing into the hospitality scene in India. Unfortunately, with any hotel there is the limitation of earning revenue from the room inventory. Rooms can only pull-in capital up to a certain amount, or if the demand is rising with the market value increasing then the amount may go up in accordance. However, with increased costs, expensive and top-of-the-art technology, and the costs involved with taking care of staff and infrastructure, the industry realised the need for higher revenue. This then resulted in hotels placing more importance and investing funds and resources on the MICE and F&B (Food & Beverage) aspects of their business.

MICE and F&B are the two areas where a hotel can truly push their revenue to 200-300 percent, simply based on the quality of service and products they offer on a daily basis. At one point in time revpar (revenue per available room) was among the most popular concepts. However, since 2008 the affinity toward trevpar (total revenue per available room) has heightened, in spite of hotel room prices being lowered. If the average spending capacity of the guest is higher, hotels are happy taking their business. The reason behind hotel businesses focusing on trevpar over revpar is primarily because of the high emphasis placed on the MICE and F&B businesses.
According to the HVS-FHRAI report (2015-16), the revenue from the Indian hotel industry’s F&B segment-including banquets and restaurants - rose to 41.5 percent in 2015-16 against 38.3 percent in 2011-12, whereas room revenues declined to 51.7 percent in 2015-16 from 55.2 percent in 2011-12.

Delicious and exquisitely prepared cuisine at a restaurant can generate more sales than 150 hotel rooms combined

MICE is now no longer about organising a conference; it is about presenting a complete, well-blended soiree and quality F&B services with out-of-the-box concepts for each event. F&B plays an extremely vital character in the successful execution of any MICE event. The selection for any MICE venue is predominantly dependent on its size and seating capacity, and the quality of food offered. The latter also includes the styling of the food which is primarily driven by the fear of competition for most hotels, especially those competing in international markets. Events have become a way of showcasing the usps of restaurants for hotels.

Over a decade ago, ITC was the only hotel chain showcasing their restaurants at banqueting events. Today, most hotels that are largely focussed on F&B have menus designed exclusively to specifically display their restaurant and F&B expertise. Banqueting events are often the best way to secure a high turnaround for a hotel as it provides the opportunity to highlight the F&B business. Often hotels are not hesitant to branch out with their menus at a banquet owing to the exposure, often to nearly 1000 guests at a single event. This frequently ensures more publicity and generates revenue and bookings. MICE activities are now a source of F&B marketing.

Hospitality brands grow their portfolios by building on the MICE feature of their business. We are focusing more progressively on the large conventions, breakaway rooms and multiple facilities that accompany a banqueting venue. Technology is fundamental in the long-term success of corporate MICE activities as a hotel’s ability to provide 24x7 advanced technology backed by the latest business and recreational facilities is necessary.

F&B is a big growth opportunity. Delicious and exquisitely prepared cuisine at a restaurant can generate more sale than 150 hotel rooms combined. With growing changes and developments in the managerial styles the hospitality industry is no longer focussed on looking into the overall revenue as customers are keen on what restaurants have to offer. With the expansion of the business the dependency on F&B has spiked as well. It helps maximise revenue as most prospective customers select venues on the basis of its capability to cater to volume, create unique dining experiences and provide themed menus to its guests.

In the F&B business the latest trend is for managers who are segregating their business into various segments such as luxury clientele, families, corporates or MICE clientele. Walk-in customers can be further divided into segments based on the age group and age groups eating out more. This had led to a deeper analysis of every guest in order to determine what kind of menu would be best-suited and a favourite among customers. The styling of the menu and its configuration is crucial for the positioning of an F&B outlet. Every restaurant in a hotel is seen as a separate profit centre with no direct relationship to the other F&B establishments. They work as an independent business unit, managing and maintaining their own pnl, catering to various segments of clientele at the same time.

The future of the hospitality industry is undoubtedly going to be dominated by the MICE and F&B sectors. There is immense scope and opportunity in MICE technology. In the next decade we are going to witness technology supporting companies come up with MICE-centric ideas that will make the process of analysis for both MICE and F&B more progressive.