India’s second chance to impress

Expert Opinion

International meeting planners, as most of us are aware, can be fastidious, are usually ultra-organised and can border on the obsessive. Much of that goes with the territory of their job, of course.

The big association and corporate planners and buyers are relentlessly courted by our top industry trade shows, not to mention the top destinations and major venues, too.

What, I wonder, would these suppliers have made of the PR disaster that was the Commonwealth Games in India? For all the spirited last-minute efforts (mostly by the lowly workforce rather than the Indian politicians and organisers), the damage was done and the impression given to the world that the country was still mired in bureaucracy, corruption and inefficiency.

One wonders also why a country would bid for a blue ribband world event, to be seen by millions around the globe if there was a problem with delivery. A  rare, golden chance to broadcast the fact that your country has changed and is up for the big event challenge, turned into a spectacular own goal.

It needn’t be that way. All eyes were on South Africa in the run up to the FIFA World Cup this summer. There were also doubts expressed over the country’s preparedness and timely construction, not to mention the constant grilling the country’s representatives got abroad (including at press conferences at IMEX and EIBTM) on the question of security. The stakes were high.

South Africa, however, confounded the naysayers and delivered a festival of sport and passed its rite of passage onto the world events stage.

India has the rare good fortune to get a second bite at the big event apple, when ICCA comes to Hyderabad for its 49th Congress 23-27 October. Around 700 meetings industry movers and shakers will give the country another chance to sell itself as a destination for major conferences and meetings. This time the key infrastructure seems to be in place, including the impressive Hyderabad International Convention Centre and good, modern hotel stock.

The BRIC countries are often hailed as the dynamos that will drive forward our world economy and with it the international meetings industry. China, certainly passed the building inspectors’ tests for the bricks that built its 2008 Olympics and subsequent convention centres; India now must show it can add the mortar to deliver a finished meetings product.

– Paul Colston, Managing Editor fo CMW