India Outbound Magazine Interviews BMICH CEO
Thu, 28 Apr 2022
As outbound travel from India revives after a pandemic-enforced closure, most market experts are pointing towards Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Expositions (MICE) and weddings as being the drivers of growth in the immediate future. And in this segment, Sri Lanka is pitching itself as the first and the best choice for a variety of reasons. Proximity, low cost and a cultural connection are only a few of its advantages.
Adding to these, the BMICH in Colombo combines its mammoth size and immense flexibility to make it the venue of preference for MICE or wedding groups of sizes varying from a few dozens to a few thousands. In an interview with India Outbound magazine Sunil Dissanayake, CEO of BMICH outlines the importance of India as a market and the key USPs of Sri Lanka and the convention centre that would attract Indian customers.
What are the key facilities that BMICH offers for MICE and Weddings?
We are a sophisticated world class venue with 22 indoor and 10 outdoor venues. We do everything that a hotel does. From a dinner for two to a banquet for 2,000. We cater to all types of events and we are very specialized in what we do. We have facilities for simultaneous translations to seven languages and all our other audio visual and technological systems are very up to date which cater to global events.
Who are you competing with and what are your competitive advantages?
We compete with the rest of the region as a MICE destination. All the South Asian countries such as India, Bangladesh & Maldives and the other SAARC countries. Also the far eastern countries such as Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. We are a purpose built facility with spacious landscaped gardens, with close proximity to India.
We sit on 38 acres of landscaped gardens and we call ourselves an urban forest with our tree laden gardens. In terms of the competitive advantage we are very cost effective, with our pricing, when compared with similar facilities elsewhere in the region. Especially for India, it’s more cost effective, because we are a lot cheaper and you get more for your foreign exchange of Indian currency. We pay about LKR.3 for an INR.1 That is also an advantage for our Indian clients. It’s my personal view that it is cost effective to the Indian clients to come over to Sri Lanka and hold your conferences, weddings and events here rather than travelling from Delhi to Chennai or to other parts of India, which may be more expensive than coming to Colombo.
Just before the pandemic we hosted the Suzuki Maruti All India Conference and the Award Ceremony here at BMICH Expo Centre which had 1000 participants joining the event. Afterwards, they indulged in tourism aspects of visiting different parts of the country.
Which are your biggest markets? How important is India for you?
India is our market leader for conventions, expositions, weddings and conferences, and then comes China. Those are the two major providers from abroad. We have a lot of customers and business opportunities from within Sri Lanka too and a few from Europe.
Which parts of India are key source markets?
Bombay, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, it’s mostly South India. Primarily the Southern part and sum from the Northern part as well. With our excellent airline connectivity to Indian cities with Sri Lankan Airlines which connects about 100 flights per week to different cities in India, it’s better and easier to travel to Sri Lanka than travelling within India itself. The connectivity is excellent.
How important is the Indian Wedding Market for you?
We are looking at the wedding market. We have quite a few weddings, especially the outdoor weddings with great outdoors. That’s another aspect that we are marketing. We are taking part in trade shows in India. BLTM and various other trade shows, and we also invite Indian MICE agents on familiarization tours. We had one tour in early 2020 prior to the pandemic. It’s a great opportunity for Indian weddings to be hosted at the BMICH as we are in close proximity to all the city hotels in Colombo. It is a matter of staying in a Colombo hotel and using our facilities to host the wedding.
USPs and novelties in Sri Lanka for post-event leisure?
There are many aspects an individual can indulge in post and pre-event leisure activities. The participants can extend their stay in Sri Lanka after the event or arrive earlier and bring their families too. The families could shop around in shopping malls in Colombo City where most of the global brands at a competitive price than in India are available. From Colombo it is a “hop step and a jump” to the beaches and one can select any type of environment of choice. For example the hill country with the mountains are just three hours away and then we have the wildlife which is also about 3 hours away. The Archaeological sites too could be reached within 3.5 to 4 hours. Of course, then we have the water sports on the southern coast and the eastern coast with surfing & water skiing in Arugam Bay in the east coast. Everything is within easy reach if you wish to enjoy in pre or post MICE event leisure activities in Sri Lanka.