Priti Khanna, Director, MCI; Dhananjay Saliankar, Regional Director, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc; Oum Pradutt, Director, Phase 1 Events; K

Collaborations as a key to Successful Destination Events

Business Events | July 8, 2015 | News

WOW Convention Asia

The fourth Knowledge Exchange session as part of the WOW Convention Asia 2015, was dynamically moderated and led by Sheema Vohra, Managing Director, Sartha Global Marketing, and comprised of panelists Priti Khanna, Director, MCI; Dhananjay Saliankar, Regional Director, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc; Oum Pradutt, Director, Phase 1 Events; Kadambini Mittal, Regional Director Global Sales India and Sub Continent, Marriott International; Vinod Janardhan, Director, Team Rustic and Jaideep Khanna, Director - Regional Sales - South West Asia, IHG, who expressed their views on the topic 'Global Events: Collaboration is the key to success'.

Vinod Janardhan, was the host to the Knowledge exchange sessions in Studio II at the WOW Convention Asia 2015, welcoming delegates and introducing each panel.

The session threw light on the challenges in planning events in international destinations. The panelists also discussed the importance of relevant networks in international destinations and the opportunities in collaborations with brands having international networks. (eg. international hotel chains with global sales agents, agencies with global networks etc). Another thing that came to the fore was the value-addition an established multi-national chain can provide its client, and how loyalty can be built through this.

Leading the session, Sheema Vohra, asked the panelists a wide range of questions with regards to the importance and advantages of collaboration, understanding the dynamics of customer loyalty and the challenges agencies tend to face while collaborating.

Speaking on the advantages of collaboration, Priti Khanna, said, "We work with partners we can trust and collaborate with. When I work with hotels, there's a promise of a brand, hence, I am reassured."
Responding to Vohra's question on whether the loyalty factor tends to seep in, she added further, "Certain people have a tendency to swear by brands wherever they are". Khanna, then doled out advice to the agencies saying, "Don't let down the customers! They are your external brand ambassadors."

Adding further, Vinod Janardhan, said, "Collaboration, how we look at it, is linked to loyalty. We have clients coming to uson Friday for a Monday requirement. It's a chicken and egg story. Unless, I don't have loyalty coming in, it doesn't work."

Speaking on the challenges faced internationally, Oum Pradutt, said, "We are an experiential marketing agency, not a travel agency. Our clients are our number one focus. Our goal is to deliver a fantastic client experience. There are clients who don't wish to opt for the traditional five star hotels. We then propose other options. It's about how you sell a place that makes all the difference."

Speaking on how it's important for agencies to take a stand, Dhananjay Saliankar, said, "For collaboration, we like to go a step ahead and help event managers. However, there have been many times when we have stepped back and said No to clients."

Explaining his approach towards collaboration, Saliankar, added, "We extend collaboration with our global sales office and then try to balance the whole approach and be one point of contact."

Stressing on the importance of collaborating, Jaideep Khanna, added, "It is important to partner with the right people who are able to facilitate and help you. The eventual aim is to win the business for ourselves. Adaptability and flexibility play a major role."

Responding to a query from the audience about Marriott being a sticker for rules and that posing as a problem for event agencies that constantly want to push the boundaries and experiment, Kadambini Mittal, responded, "In certain locations (for Marriott Hotels), there are limitations in meeting some event requirements. We at Marriott, support innovation and are very flexible. We now have destination specialists in every country making our work easier."

Concluding the session, Vohra, said, "Collaboration is the buzz word. Let's work in synergy and be together. The client seeks a one-stop-shop for all their needs. It's the little things that make the difference. Procurement isn't going away, it's here to stay".

Knowledge exchange session at the WOW Convention Asia 2015 features views from experts on how to use collaborative networks to the advantage of a destination event.

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