Both the managing director of Alpcord Network Travel & Conferences and vice chairman of India Convention & Promotion Bureau, Chandar is regarded as one of the founding fathers of Indiaâ€™s business events industry. He looks back at the beginnings of his own journey and Indiaâ€™s in business events
How did you begin in the business of events?
I started in 1975. In those days there were not many conferences and most of the business we got wereÂ tourism-centric. When there were conferences, they were small in nature and managed by the host companies themselves. Nobody thought of hiring a professional conference planner.
The lack of professional conference organisers in India came as a tremendous opportunity for us. I always believed that if I needed to diversify my business, I would have to create a new stream from my existing business.
Back then we dealt with the International Science Academy which organised a lot of scientific meetings. However, they were only using our services for travel. We proposed to handle their meetings but they were of the impression that travel agencies wouldnâ€™t be able to handle meetings professionally.
What was your big break?
Alpcord Network Travel & Conferences finally got through to the International Science Academy in 1979. We ensured that no stone would be left unturned to make its meeting a success.
By then, we were handling a lot of business travel and many of our corporate clients were engaging us for their events too.
The next major boost for Alpcord came when the company handled a diabetics conference in 1984, one that saw 4,000 delegates in attendance. Running it was challenging as Delhi didnâ€™t have enough hotel rooms in those days.
What keeps you going after spending decades in the business?
My passion for my work is the answer. I work 13 to 14 hours a day and Iâ€™m not tired because I love my work.
One needs a motivation at work, and I have found mine. When I compete with bigger agencies and win, I feel proud. We have won the national award thrice which is a recognition for me as an individual and for my company.
How do you see the evolution of the Indian economy impacting the countryâ€™s conference business?
The Indian economy has grown over the years, especially in information technology, medical and science. This has helped to bring more international conferences into the country.
Business events develop in proportion to a countryâ€™s economy.
Associations related to these fields are also seeing significant membership growth in the last few decades. For instance, at one time there were only
300 members in associations such as that of the ophthalmology field, but the same associations today boast 18,000 members.
What role has the Indian government played in the growth of the countryâ€™s conference business?
Our government has been very supportive.
The India Convention & Promotion Bureau (ICPB) provides a platform for the industry to come together and grow the inbound meetings market. There are many changes at ICPB that will help us compete with other destinations and bring more business into the country.
Indiaâ€™s ministry of tourism is also looking to introduce an incentive scheme for PCOs that bring international events into the country.
Having seen how India has evolved as a business events destination, what else do you think is needed for the country to truly shine?
We have many venues for meetings and conferences in India, but we lack purpose-built large convention spaces like the Hyderabad International Convention Centre.
India needs bigger facilities and with the facelift of Pragati Maidan (in Delhi), we will soon have an integrated world-class exhibition and convention centre. We need more of such facilities across the country.
Can Indiaâ€™s business events suppliers do better?
Planners in India need to look into staff training and ensure that employees attend certification programmes offered by global bodies like SITE.
Industry sellers need to understand that foreign agencies will gain stronger confidence in them if they had certified staff.
Hotels need to understand that business event delegates need to be treated differently from other guests.
Whatâ€™s keeping you busy?
Alpcord Network Travel & Conferences has a number of events lined up until 2019. We are also going to Dublin to bid for a major medical event scheduled for 2026.
As a whole, there is a good future for Indiaâ€™s inbound business events. Our economy is booming, and public and private sectors are working together to improve Indiaâ€™s standing in business events.