The IHG & WeddingSutra Engage 2018 held recently at InterContinental Chennai Mahabalipuram Resort was a confluence of leading wedding industry professionals of India and was designed to explore the changing dynamics of the industry as well as bring fresh perspectives to the table. The event enabled wedding planners to explore the potential of IHG properties all over the country that can transform any wedding into a fairytale affair. Over the course of two days, guests were treated to impeccable hospitality and gained rich insights which made this Engage a memorable and useful experience for everyone.
The first day began with a traditional welcome for guests which gave them a taste of the region’s cultural richness. Manav Goyal, the Director of Adyar Gate hotels and the owner of InterContinental Chennai Mahabalipuram Resort graciously welcomed all the guests which was followed by a warm address by Vivek Bhalla, Regional Vice President of IHG South West Asia.
The first day’s agenda also included a tour of the sprawling InterContinental Chennai Mahabalipuram Resort which offers world-class luxury in a Coromandel style setting. This gorgeous property stirred the collective imagination of the wedding planners present and opened up a world of new possibilities for their upcoming projects. The day ended with dinner and cocktails at Sama Gardens which doubled up as an excellent opportunity for the IHG delegates from various IHG properties (InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn) to network with the wedding planning experts of India.
The agenda for the second day was packed with engaging dialogues and panel discussions. The host for the day was Divya Chadha, Founder of A Klass Apart, who took charge of the day’s happenings. Parthip Thyagarajan, Founder and CEO of WeddingSutra, gave a warm welcome address which was followed by another one by Greesh Bindra, Regional General Manager, North India for IHG.
Host: Divya Chadha
The first panel discussion of the day was ‘Destination South India – New Markets (Clientele) & Untapped Opportunities!’ and the panelists for the session were Divakar Shukla, GM of Holiday Inn Chennai, Ambika Agarwal, CEO of The A-Cube Project, Aarti Mattoo, Founder & Chairperson of the Momentum Group, and Poonam Sharma, Founder of Poonam Mayank Sharma. The talk was moderated by Siddharth Ganeriwala, CEO of Aura Integrated Solutions (Chennai), and touched upon the potential that South Indian states such as Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala have as wedding destinations, the clientele that Mahabalipuram has been attracting, the vendors at these spots and the growing appeal of destination weddings among diverse communities.
Siddharth Ganeriwala, Aarti Mattoo, Ambika Agarwal, Poonam Sharma, & Divakar Shukla (Left to Right)
During lunch break, guests relished a delectable spread where they savored the best of North and South India cuisines that showcased progressive Indian gastronomy from Spice Art at Crowne Plaza at Rohini, New Delhi, and Dakshin at Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park. The dishes were curated with the four-hands collaboration by executive chefs from both the IHG Hotels.
The second panel discussion was titled ‘Destination Weddings – The Insiders (Guests) Perspective: What is Changing – Fashion, Entertainment, F&B.’ It was moderated by Aarti Gupta Surendranath, Event Curator and Director of Kailash Picture Company. Panelists included Yamini Shah, Co-Founder of The Wedding Designers, Puneet Gupta, Co-Founder of Puneet Gupta Invitations and Shradha Salla who threw light on the important aspects that people looked for at weddings, be it gifting options, hospitality standards or venue choices.
Puneet Gupta, Shradha Salla, Aarti Gupta Surendranath & Yamini Shah. (Left to Right)
The last and the most awaited talk of the day was titled ‘A New Perspective for Indian and International Hotels.’ It explored what the dynamics for next year look like for the wedding and hospitality industries, what events are slated to offer in 2019 and new venues that will open up for hotels the world over.
The panel was moderated by Parthip Thyagarajan, and the panelists included Darshan Shroff, Co-founder of Momente Weddings, Divya Chadha, Founder of A Klass Apart, Rishi Rochlani, Founder of The Wedding Designers, Swati Sabharwal, Founder of Big Bash Entertainment, Neha Mehrotra, Founder of Foreign Wedding Planners, Varun Dua, Founder of Evolve Weddings, and fashion designer Vivek Karunakaran.
Parthip Thyagarajan, Darshan Shroff, Rishi Rochlani, Swati Sabharwal, Neha Mehrotra, Varun Dua, Vivek Karunakaran & Divya Chadha (Left to Right)
While these stimulating sessions had everyone’s full attention, other highlights remained such as a session with Sushil Shamlal Wadhwa, Chairman of the Platinum World Grroup and the Speed Networking Hour.
The talk with the master of luxury, Sushil Shamlal Wadhwa threw light on the promise that the IHG bring to occasions that are hosted at their properties. Through an interactive session with the representatives from the hospitality chain, he helped everyone explore the dreamy world of weddings through the IHG lens.
Sushil Shamlal Wadhwa, Chairman of the Platinum World Grroup
Presentations by Participating IHG Hotels
A creative spin on speed dating, which helps people find romance in a very short time, the SpeedNetworking Hour helped wedding planners find about out all the things that make IHG properties the most distinguished destinations for standout nuptials. The activity followed a format that was similar to that of speed dating – IHG delegates ready with their pitches were presented with an opportunity to make wedding planners who sat across them fall in love with the properties that they represented in a few minutes. This session had the room abuzz with invigorating exchanges and excitement.
Speed Networking b/w Participating IHG Hotels & Wedding Planners
The pioneer of standup comedy in India, Ash Chandler engaged the audience with his hilarious take on Indian culture and with his patented good-humored charm.
Before the day ended Nalin Mandiratta, Area General Manager South India of IHG, took to the stage to thank everyone for being a part of the event. The staff at InterContinental Chennai Mahabalipuram Resort made sure that every need and comfort of the guests were looked after from the start. Right from offering contemporary comforts and conveniences in a modern setting to laying out gourmet spreads throughout the two days, IHG left no stone unturned in ensuring that everyone left with memorable experiences.