Learnings from the First Indian Corporate Event in Mongolia and My Third One in Japan
by EVENTFAQS Bureau Business Events | April 21, 2017 | Guest Article
Sushil Shamlal Wadhwa Platinum World Grroup
By Sushil Shamlal Wadhwa
Platinum World Grroup recently had the opportunity to execute India’s first corporate event in Mongolia and our third in Japan, both destinations that offered something new and interesting, and of course a lot of new learnings for us as an agency.
The client for both the Mongolia trip and our most recent Japan trip was a leading multinational conglomerate whose goal with these events was to appreciate the support lent by banks, an important stakeholder for them. The group was exclusively made up of CEO’s and MD’s of banks across Asia, and the trips gave the client an opportunity to share their performance results and their vision for the next year.
Adventures in Mongolia
Dates: End of October 2016
No of Pax: 50
Main Venues: Shangri-La Hotel, Ulaanbaatar
Attractions and Entertainment:
Mongolia is famous for its scenic beauty, nature and outdoors. So the itinerary featured a lot of outdoor activities. On arrival, the guests were presented with miniature ‘Gers’ (local tent) which contained the itineraries. This item was highly appreciated by the group and made for an excellent souvenir.
Mongolia is famous for large birds, horseback riding, and Double-Hump Camel Riding. On one of the day’s we took the group to the Gorkhi-Terelji National Park on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar. The day camp activities included Ger-building and a photo-op where the delegates got to hold the large birds.
A visit was also organised to the Genghis Khan Equestrian statue.
For the gala evening entertainment, which I had the honour of hosting as emcee, we had internationally-renowned comedian Jonathan Atherton fly in from Australia.
And to create an Indian connect, we had Jankee and Friends perform. I first met Jankee at the WOW Awards Asia, and was impressed with her talent.
Local experiences and entertainment included singing and dancing acts by performers dressed in costumes. It also included a photo-op with a 'Genghis Khan and his two wives' tribute.
The delegates were also given an opportunity to dress in costumes and get photographed.
Mongolia was selected as the destination for this event on popular demand, as a lot of the delegates from Korea and other parts of Asia found it convenient to travel to. As a destination, Mongolia offers very limited opportunities and choices in terms of luxury hotels, but is still a very popular destination for its exotic appeal. In fact, the event aspect of the trip had to be conducted at the same hotel the group stayed at, the Shangri-La in Ulaanbaatar, as it was the best equipped with MICE facilities.
As Mongolia is the 2nd largest land-locked country, flight connectivity is limited. Further, it is also a challenging destination in terms of getting visas processed and we did have to put in considerable leg work.
With the Genghis Khan tribute actors. From second on L: Birju Gariba, CEO & Executive Director, Platinum World Grroup; Nara Delgersuren, General Manager, New Juulchin Tours; Sushil Shamlal Wadhwa, Founder & CMD, Platinum World Grroup; Anu Bayarjargal, Manager, New Juulchin Tours; and Ryan Vaz, VP – Operations & Client Servicing, Platinum World Grroup
We found excellent partners in New Juulchin Tours, one of the top DMC’s in Mongolia. They were wonderful, and always ready for a challenge; all our requests were taken care of.
Being a developing country where the main power source for most people is wood and coal, there is a lot of pollution and low visibility due to smog, especially in the evening. It does get very cold here, and may not be advisable to travel to in the winter for people who can’t handle cold weather.
The cuisine served was a mix of international, Indian and local food. We were fortunate to find an Indian restaurant here, and the Shangri-La permitted their chef to prepare part of the menu.
The Sound and Light was provided by an excellent company we found through the DMC.
After my first-time experience managing a MICE event in Mongolia and overcoming the challenges that came with it, I’d be very happy to help industry friends looking to manage an event here.
Cherry Blossom in Tokyo
Dates: March 30 to April 1, 2017
No of Pax: 70
Main Venues: The Westin Tokyo; Meiji Keinenkan
The venue where we held the event, Meiji Keinenkan, on its own has a very iconic status as a venue. Managed by the Meiji Shrine, Meiji Kinenkan was the first event venue offering a comprehensive range of services to be opened in Japan. It is located in a separate part of the Outer Gardens of the Meiji Shrine. The total area of the site is about 33,000㎡.
The main hall is a place of historical interest since the drafts of the former Imperial Constitution and the Imperial House Act were discussed in the presence of the Meiji Emperor. Since then, Meiji Kinenkan has been a very popular attraction to many people.
The activities planned included a visit to Mount Fuji. The day we went for the recce, it was a reasonably clear day. We visited a venue called Mount Fuji Hotel at Yamanaka Lake, a gorgeous hotel, which provided spectacular views, and had Lunch here. On the day we took the group it was snowing, and visibility was poor, but the group was happy to see the snowfall.
We later visited Lake Kawaguchiko, where the group was taken on a boat ride on the serene lake. And then we went up to Mount Kachi Kachi via cable cars, which offered spectacular views of the Mount Fuji range and a lovely experience.
For dinner on the second evening, the group was taken to Legato, a French/Italian fine-dining restaurant.
The itinerary included a lot of local flavour, including a ceremony featuring performers in costumes.
Geisha girls welcomed the delegates to the Meiji Keinenkan. A European Jazz band based in Japan was hired for one of the evenings.
For entertainment, we flew a renowned troupe called Natya Nectar who performed a beautiful 40-minute fusion act. Natya Nectar - Cirque De India is a unique international performing arts company that was conceived by American dancer/choreographer, Goura Prema Riggan. Natya Nectar has opened for Lady GaGa at the launch of the Delhi F1 Race Track as well as performed for famous personalities like Amitabh Bachchan and his family, the Vice President of India, the King of Bhutan and the Royal Family, The Maharaja of Udaipur, The King of Jodhpur, Tiger Woods.
The finale was a 90-minute unplugged session by award-winning singer Jonita Gandhi and her band. She sang her well-known songs including The Breakup song, Gilehriyaan from Dangal and more.
Tokyo was selected as a destination because of the cherry blossom season.
An important thing to keep in mind planning a MICE trip in Japan is that you will probably need a 3-month time-frame to get everything to come together. For this particular trip, we had a much shorter turnaround time and definitely faced challenges as a result. Hotel availability was an issue, and we were unable to get our top 2 choices of hotels. Though not in the same league as the venues we had our eyes on, the Westin is a great 5-star hotel, and we were lucky to secure 60-70 rooms at the hotel. Even Meiji Keinenkan where the event was actually held is a venue that gets booked years in advance, but we were fortunate we managed to secure the space for our dates.
The Japanese are very particular and used to a certain way of working, and are not comfortable with last minute changes. So it’s important that to have enough time to plan all aspects of the trip, right from car transfers to venues.
Language can be a challenge, hence it’s definitely important to get a local partner and core team who can speak fluent English. For this trip, our local partner was David Dobos.
To catch the cherry blossom in full bloom, the best time to plan your trip would be from late April through May. Being a seasonal element, however, Mother Nature will have the final say.
In terms of cuisine, all venues did very well, with Meiji Keinenkan doing an excellent job.
Both the Mongolia and Japan MICE trips were a fantastic experience and gave us a lot of new learnings and a greater understanding of these two cultures, so vastly different from a lot of the typical MICE destinations in Asia, including Singapore, Hong-Kong, and others. While if you have a short notice period, you may have to put in additional effort in your planning, it is completely worth the experience these destinations offer.
Sushil Shamlal Wadhwa is the Founder & CMD of Platinum World Grroup.
Sushil Shamlal Wadhwa, Founder & CMD, Platinum World Grroup discusses his recent experiences planning and executing MICE trips in Mongolia and Japan.