Travel News Digest spoke to some of the key industry people to know their opinion on the present state of MICE, Business, and Luxury Travel markets in India. The Industry believes that the segment is poised for vigorous growth. Thus, creating an efficient, productive business travel platform will facilitate in addressing the specific needs of these segments, and fully leveraging the growth opportunities.By Sulagna GhoshBusiness Travel industry in India is emerging as a specialised market with differentiated needs, in tandem with the global trends. The strongest growth in travel from India in the recent years has been by business travellers, with an almost five-fold increase in travel expenditure for business purposes over the past five years. As Indian companies are globalising, and the Indian market integrating with the world economy, Indian business travel is surging. The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) predicts that 15 years from now, India will likely be a top-three market in business travel spending.Luxury travel is also growing rapidly, buoyed by the new phase of conspicuous consumption by the affluent Indian traveller, where the demand is fuelled not only by FITs, but also uniquely Indian markets for weddings and other social occasions. The future of luxury tourism sector in India looks promising taking into consideration the increasing demand for exotic and unique holiday experiences from Indian travellers. The holidaymakers are becoming more evolved and they do not want to compromise on anything less than the best.Gaurav Sundaram, Regional Director, GBTA India, said, “The Indian market is seeing aggressive growth across the segments. With the increased economic and political stability in the country, these positive trends are more pronounced in the last two years.”Karan Anand, Head, Relationships, Cox & Kings, said that India is one of the fastest growing travel market in the world and business, MICE and luxury travel markets are growing at a very fast pace. “Top corporates, film production houses and destination wedding planners in India contribute to most of this business and are keen to explore newer destinations- domestic as well as international,” he said.Sharing similar sentiments, Vishal Suri, Managing Director, SOTC Travels, said, “MICE, Business and Luxury travel markets in India have emerged as important segments of the travel industry. India is going the global way and MICE is fast becoming a major part of its travel and promotional budgets. Meeting demand, size and space is crucial for rapid growth within the segments. Each of the segments would require high levels of innovation and customisation.”A huge growth can be seen in these sectors as India is emerging as one of the largest markets for Outbound, MICE, opined Gajesh Girdhar, Founder Member and National Coordinator, Network of Indian MICE Agents (NIMA). The current growth shows that by 2020, India should be on the top of the global list.India has emerged as the 10th largest business travel market in the world, spending over US$22 billion and is expected to grow by 13.5%, year-on-year, as indicated by a survey conducted by Deccan Herald. At present, India’s share of outbound business travel is pegged at US$4.8 billion worldwide. Industry experts say that the luxury travel market is growing by around 20% annually and over the next 10 years; it will grow around 15-20% every year. Also, Outbound MICE and Business Travel from India are predicted to increase by 62% by 2017.In order to further promote these segments, the industry has to strategise and reinvent itself to face new challenges and leverage fully the opportunities.Sundaram opined that in order to boost this industry further, the government needs to maintain and increment policy stability and incentives for industry. “Further efforts should be made by the External Affairs Ministry to improve the efficiency and ease with which business travellers can secure visas for travel purposes with limited documentation and speed. Continued investments in infrastructure related to the travel industry will also facilitate Business Travel,” he said.Anand said that we need to recognise the changing way in which the world is conducting business; the changing trends which are influencing global economies; the technological revolution which is changing the way in which events and meetings are being conducted. Assimilating these changes seamlessly and responding to it with strategic initiatives will only make the industry stronger than before.Corroborating with Anand, Suri said that the future of the industry will be influenced by the following major factors: Economic uncertainty, better, cheaper technological options for live events, Faster, shorter business cycles, placing their best foot forward to attract and support business groups from various industries in India.Suri further adds, “What is always needed is to recognise the changing way in which the world is conducting business; the changing trends which are influencing global economies; the technological revolution which is making its presence felt in the way in which events and meetings are being conducted. Assimilating these changes seamlessly and responding to it with strategic initiatives will only make the MICE, Business and Luxury industry stronger than before.”As India’s Business Travel industry is maturing, there is a growing need among Indian business travellers for information on the latest trends in this sector. The industry needs to make a conscious effort in educating the niche audience. This will help it to keep pace with the ever growing needs of the Indian traveller.At present in India, GBTA is the only industry body that looks at Business Travel as a special niche segment in India. They conduct events, networking forums, education and professional certification in this domain.Sundaram mentioned that a focused Business Travel Mart will allow industry partners specialising in this domain to showcase their capabilities and products to the buyer community. This will also allow for greater interaction and appreciation of best-in-class solutions for the client’s needs. He said, “Such a mart should provide a platform for industry partners to showcase their solutions and products, ability for buyers and sellers to interact effectively to address the pressing concerns of today, an education forum that provides insights into global best practices that are being used across the world and which can be implemented in India.”Suri believes that attending travel marts and conferences is an important business practice that can benefit tour companies in many ways, including building professional relationships, meeting the media, leveraging tips from other like-minded businesses, learning new ideas from industry experts. “Creating an efficient and productive business travel platform will benefit trade relations, help take advantage of business opportunities and learn about new trends and innovations within the Business Travel industry,” he said.According to Anand, specialised Business Travel Marts can help to address the specific needs of this segment. He further said that such a mart should have maximum business opportunities, community of qualified hosted buyers, delegates from multiple destinations across the globe and involvement of different industry segments in forums, talks and roundtable discussions to keep abreast of industry updates.With India set to be the 3rd fastest growing market in Business Travel from 2010-2019, this is the perfect time for a marketing and networking platform for this high-potential market.