For those who are not from India, the title Incentive Tours Ghar Ka Khana Maa Kaa Pyar means `The Incentive Tours – Home Food – Mother’s Love’. The group tours that go from India not only want Indian food but they also want Indian food with mothers’ love in it, be it vegetarian food, vegetarian Jain food, or vegetarian food from other parts of India. The Indian travelers somehow do not want to try different foods, except for the millennials who post about all the restaurants they visit on Facebook.
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The requirements for Indian food on a foreign soil escalate when Indians travel in big groups. With incentive-groups comes the request for Ghar ka Khana, which can make or break the travel deal. We, as a travel company, do try to get the Indian food. However, once they get the Indian food, we are somehow not able to give Ghar ka khana (Home Food) with maa ka Pyar (Mothers’ Love).
Bangkok and Pattaya, where maximum group tours happen, have more than 200 Indian and vegetarian restaurants. Pattaya alone has seventy Indian restaurants that serve both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. These restaurants are, of course, run by Indians. The restaurants look like a start-up dhaba from India in the nineties. The Indian tourists flock to these places, which are either full or absolutely empty because they are either filled with groups or no one. Here comes another challenge where the expectation of the incentive tour travelers escalates to wanting a fine dining experience.
The companies want the best for the tours as their reputation is at stake. On a negotiating table, we break the deal into rupees and paisa. Tourists fight for every paisa and I, being a travel consultant, still manage to give a good deal. I work on detailed itineraries and leave no stone unturned. However, the travel deal and the expectation levels of dealers and distributors do not match the itinerary. The company and I might have spent many man-hours to finalize the deal, but the expectation levels are not discussed. We discuss that they will get Indian food, Indian food for all meals even, but not whether it will be in a five-star hotel or fine-dining restaurant.
The dealers and distributors’ expectation is always different. The company might give a gala dinner with liquor at a fine establishment. However, the travelers always want all meals to be a gala dinner with free-flowing liquor for all four days. Conflict arises when a tour is announced as a scheme to the dealers. It is projected larger than life where liquor will flow from the taps and so on. The sales team was never a part of the negotiation where the budget was discussed. They sell aggressively, which they should, and that is where the wrong expectation levels are built, and conflicts happen later.
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Marriages can be conducted in 1 lakh, 10 lakhs, or 10 crores. The lower budget marriages can be organized very well. However, if the expectations are not set, even a 10 crore marriage might not go well.
The gala dinner is a myth. Companies do not want to spend money on liquor. They buy it from duty- free shops. They want to book a banquet hall. Buffet food is served they bring liquor from outside, and the DJ plays Hindi tunes. If you really want to treat your dealers, first it should not be called a gala dinner. It is an official company event. The banquet should be booked in the hotel you are staying. The menu should be discussed, the chef allowed to do his or her job. Let us have round tables and so on.
All these things will cost a lot of money in a foreign location. The liquor bill itself be very high, as the hotel will not allow liquor from outside. If the arrangements are made in a four- or five-star hotel, the food bill alone will be more than the package cost. The hotel industry is different in every country. In Thailand, the night clubs, gogo bars, and beer bars survive on selling liquor. They just want to sell liquor, and the food comes second, which is where the clash happens. The Indian traveler does not want to buy liquor from the restaurant.
Travelers are so finicky that they do not want to eat food at the airports. The food demand starts as soon as they leave home.
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The Gujrat market has large families traveling together. Some of the Gujarati food does not spoil even after seven days. If the group is over fifty people, they have even started taking a chef with them.
Spices are taken from India and vegetables are bought there. A kitchen is hired and voila, we have the Gujarati vegetarian food in China.
All meals are vegetarian and belong to Indian cuisine. They also cover the category of Ghar ka khana, which has maa ka Pyar. If the airport is far off and there is a journey involved, the food is made available on the bus or even aboard a train.
On my recent trip to Bangkok, I saw around twenty people having Gujarati thali in the airport. The thali was well packed and bought from an outside restaurant. They even served a `Rasgulla’ (dessert) in the end!
As for me, I will be discussing the expectation level with the package deal.