Colourful, vibrant and cultural. These are just a few words that spring to mind when thinking of India, a popular destination for leisure travel. But did you know that India is also fast becoming a popular destination for meetings, incentives, conferences and events?
Thanks to the investment in the infrastructure in recent years, India is better placed than ever before to host MICE group travel. Aerocity is one of these recent developments – a collection of hotels with great meeting facilities, just 10 minutes from Delhi airport and perfectly placed for incentives to the Golden Triangle.
At Air Partner, our dedicated Travel team have been organising scheduled flights for groups for 20 years. Senior Travel Consultant, Louise Thomas recently visited India and tells us why an event there with Virgin Atlantic flights should be your next MICE trip.
India is within easy reach with direct flights every day from London Heathrow to Delhi with Virgin Atlantic. With 31 Upper Class, 35 Premium and 198 Economy seats, there's an option to suit all different budgets. If the group is flying Upper they can get the event started in style at Heathrow with access to the dedicated Upper Class Wing. The group will be greeted on arrival and whisked through the private security channel directly to the Clubhouse. I would recommend Premium Economy if you're looking for a little bit of extra legroom – the additional touches such as comfortable seat and premium amenity kit means the group will arrive in India well rested and ready for the event.
There's no end of truly unique spaces to hold your event. During my visit, I got to see a selection of versatile spaces that would work for groups of all different sizes.
• For small groups – the Orient Express at Taj Palace, themed around the legendary train, allowing guests to dine in opulent surroundings. The Spice Route at the Imperial Hotel is another great entertaining space, with traditional Indian décor and voted in the top ten restaurants globally by Conde Nast Traveller 2017.
• For large groups – the Taj Palace, has a variety of spaces for large groups including a conference venue for up to 1,000 delegates and outside lawn space for up to 800 guests.
• Groups of any size - Aerocity is, a short 10 minute drive from Delhi airport offering a variety of hotels within the development to suit all budgets, from 3 to 5-star options and event space for up to 2,000 delegates.
Delhi has a population of 11 million people and surprisingly was once voted as the 3rd greenest city in the world. The city has a variety of outstanding hotels. Some of my favourites for groups included:
• Taj Palace – a beautiful hotel in an ideal location, this hotel offers a variety of perfect event spaces inside and out for groups of all different sizes
• The Oberoi– this stunning hotel will give your group the VIP service. Enjoy drinks on the rooftop bar with views overlooking a huge green expanse in Delhi.
• The Imperial Hotel – a luxury colonial style hotel with lots of history. Perfect for smaller groups who want to immerse themselves in the history of India.
The city of Agra is most famous for being the location of one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal was built in 1632 as a Mausoleum to house the tomb of the then Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan for his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal. I can recommend the following:-
• Oberoi Amarvilas – this spectacular hotel boasts amazing architecture, with each room having breath-taking views of the Taj Mahal
Jaipur (known as 'The Pink City') was painted pink in 1876 as a sign of the people's hospitality towards the visiting Queen Victoria of England and the Prince of Wales. I would recommend the following hotels:
• Rambagh Palace – be treated like royalty, this regal hotel will wow your groups from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave. Receive a royal welcome with elephants, horses, drummers, vintage cars to really provide your group with the 'wow' factor.
• Oberoi Rajvilas – a lavish hotel set in 32 acres of beautiful grounds. With unique luxury tents to sleep in, this place creates a totally unique experience.
India has no end of amazing activities to enthral to help you create a unique agenda. Having experiencesd some first hand, I would recommend:
• Old and New Delhi City Tour – explore the streets of the old and new city on a variety of transport modes - tuk tuks, rickshaws, taxis and the subway. A great way to experience real Delhi.
• Camel Polo – undertake a totally unique and memorable game of polo
• Amber Fort, Jaipur - take a guided tour of this extensive complex
• Provide your guests with a made to measure Saree for a true Indian experience
• Shopping at the bazaars in Jaipur – haggle to your heart's content for some incredible gifts
For my trip to India, I worked really closely with Designer Incentives, an experienced DMC who were established in 1990. From seamless ground transfers to royal welcomes at hotels and incredible meals in unique venues. Designer Incentives can take care of all of your arrangements for your trip, leaving you to focus on the group.
This was my first group trip to India and I was very impressed by how much it has to offer groups of all different sizes.
If you're looking to organise group flights on scheduled airlines, our Travel team will be happy to assist. We're experienced in dealing with groups of all sizes and offer personalised service to suit your requirements. Your dedicated Account Manager will take care of all of the details, from the seating to special requests and our Customer Operations team are on hand 24/7 for assistance and support.