Circa 1993, Hyderabad: A major medical conference took place in what was then just a historic capital city of a southern state. A few hundred delegates thronged the Nizam-built Jubilee Hall — the present legislative council building.
In 2010, some 10,000 delegates from across the globe assembled in the throbbing IT hub of the country for the latest edition of the same conference. But the venue was a world away from the one 17 years ago.
Things, clearly, have changed since the Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC), the first purpose-built and state-of-the-art convention facility in the country, came up in 2006.
“I have attended both the events. The differences are enormous, from amenities to infrastructure to hospitality and quality of services,” says Andhra Pradesh Tourism Secretary Jayesh Ranjan.
In those times, international events took place at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. Larger gatherings of, say, 8,000-10,000 delegates never took place anywhere in the country. Private events used to happen at function halls and hotels, as the Jubilee Hall’s capacity was only 1,000-1,500, he points out.
A cursory glance at HICC’s record as a venue in recent years would throw up names like the International Congress of Mathematicians, Aeronautical Congress, Pacific-Asia Travel Association and the International Congress and Convention Association Congress 2010.
Hyderabad has emerged as the convention capital of the country and a one-stop destination for business tourists.
HICC was the brain child of former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu. “In 2003, he felt that, as an international city, Hyderabad should have a modern convention centre like the Dubai convention centre, which is the most popular in Asia,” Ranjan says.
According to HICC General Manager (Sales, Marketing & Distribution) Jaideep Khanna, on an average 2-3 events are organised every day, with 20 to 6,000 delegates visiting the centre. HICC sees 200,000-300,000 visitors a year and 500 business tourists per event. In 2010, it hosted close to 700 small and major events with 350,000 delegates.
“We are seeing a 12-13 per cent growth annually, and we hope to conduct 800 events this year,” Khanna says.
The centre, spread across a 15-acre landscaped area, was built with an approximate investment of Rs 300 crore by Cyberabad Convention Centre Pvt Ltd, a joint venture between Emaar Properties and the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC). It is managed by French hospitality and tourism management firm, Accor group.
The centre has a 6,480 sq m pillar-free internal hall, which can be partitioned into six small halls and can hold up to 400 tables in a banquet setting and 6,000 in a cocktail setting. The pre-function foyer area of 6,500 sq m offers a seating capacity for 4,000 delegates, with an additional flexibility of up to 6,500.
The main hall has an in-built rear projection screen of 18-16 ft along with the latest sound systems built into the roof to provide a concert-like experience. It has 32 halls to organise multiple meetings simultaneously. The meeting room has a 500-guest reception area, with 16 terminals for registrations. The main reception has 16 workstation back office.
HICC is attached with the Novotel hotel, forming a unique complex to provide both accommodation and conference facility, reducing the travel burden for tourists, Khanna says. Around 700 common staff are employed for both the facilities.
HICC also provides video production facility and, according to Khanna, the videos are made by its in-house professionals at the studio within the centre. It has deployed all the latest technology to ensure safety of guests.
“To host an international event, adequate planning is required three-four years ahead of the event. The selection and bidding is a lengthy process. We have started bidding for events that would happen in 2014,” he says, adding conventions are economic growth engines, which contribute by generating local employment. Conventions get the highest-spending tourists. In other words, they influence local tourism, handicraft sales, catering, cabs and along with other amenities of transport, tourist, crafts, and airports.
“According to our finding, for any convention with 1,000 delegates, the overall economy of the city gets a Rs 3-crore benefit — minimum of three-night stay per 1,000 delegates. The earnings comes from the hotel room tariff, payment for transport, shopping, vendors and other service providers,” says Ranjan.
Last year, it generated a turnover of Rs 50 crore. “Financial growth is progressing annually and 2010 saw the best financial performance. If things remain favourable, we expect a 10-15 per cent annual average growth,” Khanna said.