By N.K.A. Ballal, Retd. Sr. Vice-President, ITDC
“Hybrid wedding” is a new term coined by the hospitality industry. Hybrid cars, one can understand but weddings? Well, it is simple. The marriages are performed in two destinations. At an exotic destination, sangeet, mehandi, cocktail etc., are done and the actual weddings are performed at home town. Advantage of this is that a select group is taken to the exotic destination for two days only and the actual marriage is performed at home with full complement of relatives and friends. Lighter on the purse and at the same time the daughter of the house is also happy ! A combination of traditional wedding and destination weddings — a hybrid wedding.
Weddings have become a big business and the demands are enormous. The problem is that every marriage has to be customised and one single format cannot please all. Fortunately, this business is growing vertically and the most important thing is that this business is recession free too ! Gst or no tax, marriages have to take place with the budget varying from person to person depending on her or his wish. The gold prices shoot up. Are the marriages solemnised without jewellery or expensive sarees? Of course, not. At present the price of gold is approximately Rs. 3,000 per gram. Has the rush in any gold shop reduced? Come wedding season, year by year, the buying spree continues. That is why we call this business, “recession free,” a permanent “bull phase.”
There is a misconception that destination weddings cost a bomb. It is not true. When I was at Lalitha Mahal Palace hotel, I used to meet lots of film producers. I used to be curious about the shooting cost of films on foreign locales and the budget. I was surprised to learn from several producers that the actual cost of shooting abroad is cheaper than shooting in Indian locations. Due to Union diktats, a shooting in India will have at least 150 people on the location whereas when shooting abroad, the producer just pays for air tickets and hotels for about 15 to 20 persons. Except for the top heroes and heroines the rest of the persons are lodged in cheap motels and they are also made to work long hours. Taking into consideration the reach of Indian films, most of the governments abroad give the locations free ! Similarly for destination weddings the actual guest list is pruned to about 80 to 100. The actual cost of a wedding in a metro city is huge whereas the cost of a wedding in a city like Mysuru is very less. For example, for a family in Bengaluru, it is cheaper to come to Mysuru, stay at Lalitha Mahal Palace with a group of 100, get the wedding done than performing the same marriage at Bengaluru.
The business of weddings is going to become more demanding and the clients will start asking for new destinations and value for money propositions. If one has to be relevant wedding planner has to stay ahead of curve. Of course, adopting technology in this space will make the process more simpler and effective.
Mysuru is slowly becoming a destination by default, because of the high cost of wedding at Bengaluru. What do clients who book destination weddings look for? First is connectivity. Since the wedding party normally have some elders, they prefer destinations which have air connectivity like Goa, Kerala or Jaipur. As at present Mysuru is just connected by one flight if by chance the air connectivity to this city improves to include other cities nearby, the wedding business will boom. The second most important thing a wedding planner looks for is the logistics in the form of tents, cutlery, crockery, flowers etc. As at present what is available at Mysuru is passable quality and whenever a party demands high quality materials, it is brought in from Bengaluru which makes it very expensive. The third drawback of Mysuru as a destination for wedding is “shortage of quality manpower” in metro towns. One can see smartly dressed waiters and waitresses, serving even late hours. At Mysuru, ask for 100 waiters with a single uniform, no chance.
What is the end result of this. Mysuru is becoming a cheap destination for weddings unlike Jaipur or Goa. A two night stay at Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel for about 100 guests would cost approximately Rs.16 lakhs and the same at Jaipur a cool Rs. 75 lakh in a heritage hotel.
It is time the hotels at Mysuru start employing event managers on their pay roll who specialise in managing these events rather than depending on banquet managers or sales managers. This is a job which requires people with imagination and flair. As at present the preferred wedding cities are Goa, Jaipur or Kerala, Mysuru with its Palaces and other attractions as well as central location can be an excellent new destination for weddings. New business opportunity, let us grab it.
Cleaning of marble statues
Archaeological Survey of India (Asi), UP, has hit upon a novel and ethnic idea of cleaning the Taj Mahal by using “fuller earth.” This chemical-free mixture is applied on all the marble surfaces, left to dry for few days and then cleaned with distilled water. Simple but effective. The marble regains its original colour and shine. Mr. Randeep, why not try this mud therapy on our marble statues? On a lighter note, the kings will also be happy with this mud therapy. For any clarifications or assistance, contact Dr. Bhatnagar, Superintendent, Asi, Northern region.