By N.K.A. Ballal, Retd. Sr. Vice-President, ITDC
Marriages are made in heaven is an old saying. But at present the most preferred marriage destination in India is Udaipur [a royal heritage city in Rajasthan]. A recent survey conducted ahead of the 5th Travel Wedding Show indicated that Udaipur with a clear 25 percent is the most preferred destination in India, followed by Goa with 24 percent, Kerala 21 percent, Jaipur 15 percent and lastly Himachal with 15 percent share. What does these figures indicate? It is clear that Indians still prefer “royal heritage cities” for hosting their marriages. Udaipur and Jaipur alone bag approximately 40 percent of the destination wedding business in India.
Now let us throw some light on the expenditure of these destination weddings. The survey has brought out that a whopping 53 percent spend up to Rs. 1 crore for a wedding. Yes, you heard me right. About 27 percent spend from Rs. 1 to 2 crore, 17 percent of the newly-weds spend anything between Rs. 2 crore – Rs. 3 crore and a small minuscule 3 percent spend above Rs. 3 crore. When the same weddings are held in international venues, the expenditure shoots up and it has been brought out in the report that a whopping 49 percent spend between Rs.3 crore and 5 crore for international venue weddings.
Why is that the rich gentry prefer these cities? It is not enough if one has just a good hotel for making the marriage function successful. All the infrastructure required like air connectivity, roads, hotels, transport, tents, catering, top class crockery, glasses, cutlery, manpower, florist, lighting etc., have to be set up in the city to ensure that top end marriages take place in the city. Over years, the cities of Udaipur and Jaipur have developed all the above infrastructure.
What is the reason that Mysuru with all the trappings of a heritage city does not attract top end weddings? Just try getting 30 trained uniformed waiters or 2,000 quality crockery sets for an event ! A Mysuru-based industrialist recently held a grand wedding at Mysuru and everything from tents, food, waiters, cutlery, crockery, were brought from Bengaluru and Cochin. Yes, Lalitha Mahal does host some destination weddings once in a while but these are from Bengaluru-based families and the total expenditure is in the range of Rs. 20 lakh to Rs. 25 lakh. Substandard quality when compared to the ones being held in Udaipur or Jaipur.
The total Indian wedding industry is pegged at 40 to 50 billion dollars and is the second largest market in the world after the US. That is the reason a 5th Travel Wedding Show was hosted at Jaipur recently wherein nearly 2,000 people participated. As per Rajeev Jain, the founder of an event management company, who was one of the participants of the show, the most preferred destination in the world for destination weddings is Thailand but lately people are venturing into even places like Turkey, Cyprus, Mauritius, Macau, Malta, Sri Lanka, Bali, London among other destinations.
What do wedding planners look for when they plan an event? The most important thing is hotel accommodation, pricing, brand and the quality of food and service. For international weddings, visa formalities, food, airline connectivity and the language is also considered.
Quoting a survey done, Rajeev said that in India, 50 percent of the business gets done through referrals, 20 percent through social media, 15 percent through search engines and 15 percent through other sources. But for international destinations, 43 percent is through social media and only 13 percent is by way of referrals!
Mysuru is the only destination (city) in Karnataka which can boast of a heritage hotel of some reputation. Bengaluru with its famous traffic snarls is avoided by all. If by chance one has taken a venue near the Silk Board, rest assured the baaraat will never reach the venue in time for the muhurat!
But to develop Mysuru as a wedding destination venue, it is important that another heritage hotel be developed. It is time the Government persuades the royal family to open the Rajendra Vilas Palace Hotel for business. Air connectivity, well, recent reports in the newspapers suggest some activity. Who knows, with elections round the corner, there is a possibility the airport work may also get going. Your guess is as good as mine.