BMICH’s big MICE grab steps up competition in Colombo
Mon, 14 Nov 2016
The iconic building in the heart of Colombo, the BMICH hopes to play host to not only conventions and exhibitions but within its acreage a possible hotel of 4-star rating and plans to call for proposals to efficiently run the cinema.
The popular venue for exhibitions has become a highly competitive MICE location for hotels in Colombo as it today boasts of a number of facilities and aims to generate revenue of Rs.900 million in 2016 against Rs.650 million in 2015, the Bandaranaike International Conference Hall (BMICH) Director and Chief Executive Sunil Dissanayake told the Business Times in an interview.
He noted that this year the BMICH had “done exceedingly well” with 2016 expected to close with a net profit of about Rs.300 million, considered to be the highest in the past 43 years, compared to a net profit of Rs.185 million earned last year. Targets for next year are set at Rs.1.1 billion revenue, he said.
BMICH bagged awards in March in Geneva thereby gaining significant exposure in international magazines as a MICE venue.
The venue has prospects to open up for the launch of various products in the corporate world seeking out this location for key company events, it was noted.
Moreover, today the venue plays host to weddings which was stopped 15 years ago since it would clash and interfere with other functions held at the same venue, it was noted.
Recently the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Memorial Exhibition Centre (SBMEC) was able to cater to about 2000 pax for a wedding. But the hall is being offered for this purpose only on Tuesdays until 2018, the CEO said.
Further plans are underway to call for proposals from cinema operators to lease out or rent the cinema and lounge that could accommodate 200. In addition the venue has several outdoor venues like Nuga Sevana, Mihilaka Medura and the outdoor Kamatha; the latter is to be used for a unique wedding ceremony with the poruwa to be set up in the middle of the paddy field.
Other facilities at the venue are the ten golf carts used to shuttle participants when they break out for lunch, he said.
Mr. Dissanayake said they have invested heavily in advertising and promotions to market the venue amounting to Rs.10 million this year with Rs.6 million already spent in the first nine months of 2016.
Advertising is carried out on a bigger scale thereby marking the presence as a key location to host events in Sri Lanka.
“Our major business was the conventions and the award ceremonies but now the international conferences are coming,” he said adding that previously they were able to only attract national level public sector events as opposed to those carried out by the corporate sector.
BMICH has now reconverted some of the office rooms to house three bedrooms that are being readied for next year primarily catering for accommodating event organisers, Mr. Dissanayake said.
This venue had played host to a number of international events organised under state patronage that also had 30 rooms (now converted to offices) with a Presidential and Prime Minister’s suite in place during the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in 1976.
Mr. Dissanayake explained that he hopes to propose the establishment of a three or 4-star hotel that could even be up for a public private partnership.
On a 42-acre property and about 12 acres of parking and garden spaces the BMICH is being proactively targeting those who have held their events at other venues in Colombo.
The venue’s CEO noted that they have a sales team in place to boost the image and promote the conventions centre.
Traditionally the BMICH authorities have been “waiting for orders to come” but today the location is actively involved in promoting the venue, he pointed out.
In fact he noted that the French Travel Agents conference held last week originally planned to be held in Negombo was relocated to the BMICH following the event organiser’s visit to the international conference centre.
Today the BMICH is being displayed and marketed internationally participating in selected international MICE exhibitions with the first participation in Hyderabad conventions.
The main conference hall could accommodate 1650 people with six custom built rooms (previously called committee rooms) Jasmine (350 pax), Lotus (500 pax), Orchid (100) Lavender (100 pax) and Tulip (75 pax).
“Sri Lanka has still not attracted the top conferences and despite the availability of the venue we have not marketed the destination,” Mr. Dissanayake said.
Further the BMICH is capable of offering simultaneous translation into seven languages and currently the venue is in the process of launching Wifi within the next three months and installing “webex” a form of video conferencing.
Commenting on areas for improvement, he noted that the transport facility needs upgrading including the railway and sophistication in terms of facilities.
Source: The Sunday Times.
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