Rakesh Joomuck of Air Mauritius talks to ITCM’s Sydney PauldenEvent organisers are quite right in imagining the island of Mauritius as a holiday paradise in the Indian Ocean. From then on, however, there are many misconceptions.
ITCM has hosted MICE groups on Fam Trips to Mauritius over the years and has seen the misconceptions come to light as organisers have discovered the facts for themselves.
In short, they have found incentives to Mauritius to be much more affordable, accessible and flexible than they thought – and that the island has much more variety to offer than they had previously assumed.
These points have just been confirmed in an interview with Rakesh Joomuck, who is the Business Development Executive for MICE & Leisure Sales at the London office of Air Mauritius. He is continuously hosting either reconnaissance visits to the island or incentive groups. Earlier this year he helped to shepherd three back-to-back several-hundred-strong incentives that had booked exclusive Air Mauritius flights.
Rakesh agrees that he frequently acts as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for organisers setting up groups with delegates coming from many different locations throughout Europe. Mauritius is very popular for groups from France and the UK and international groups bring delegates in from North America, Scandinavia as well as the EMEA region ‘Mostly’, he says, ‘they use London and Paris as the hubs. Both points of departure have frequent services to Mauritius and there are good feeder flights into those hubs if required.’
Air Mauritius has a code-share agreement with Air France that operates a total of 12 weekly direct, non-stop services between Paris and Mauritius and the French airline has connections between Paris and scores of other cities worldwide. He then adds the news that Air Mauritius will now also be working with Virgin Atlantic, which is opening a domestic route into London Heathrow from Manchester.
The Air Mauritius flights out of the UK and France make it very straightforward to enjoy an incentive of minimum three to four full days on the island at a comparatively low cost. ‘It is no problem for a group to fly out overnight and fly back overnight. They can enjoy a 5-day or 4-day itinerary and only need to pay for four or three nights in a hotel. Bear in mind that, as the route is almost due south, there is no jetlag. Our service arrives at 8am and delegates and award winners are able to start benefiting immediately from what the island has to offer.’
The many DMCs on the island have long track records for creating a variety of programmes for groups of every kind and also have good ideas for getting the trip off to a great start.
‘For example’, says Rakesh, ‘close to the international airport in Mauritius is the Ile de Deux Cocos, which can be booked for exclusive use. Within very few minutes, groups can be off the aircraft and savouring welcome drinks and a tasty breakfast and/or lunch under the palm trees by the beautiful blue sea, hence saving on early check-in charges at the hotel. They can then proceed to their resorts either by road or speed boat (depending on location of their hotels) with their luggage already waiting for them in their rooms.’
Similarly, baggage can be checked in directly from their hotels before departure on the last day, giving passengers the opportunity to spend the maximum time enjoying the hotel, the spa, the beach and the sea.
He adds the important point that, unlike some airlines, Air Mauritius is able to block off seats for groups at a fairly early stage in the planning, so that organisers can go ahead with preparations with the knowledge that the seats will be available by the time all is ready to go ahead with the actual booking.
‘Event organisers’, Rakesh advises, ‘for groups of any size, quite small or really big, should explore how Mauritius might fit into their budgets in order to get the best. The time available might not be too short for this particular long-haul destination. The budget might well be good enough for a great programme. The services might well be there to handle a complex distribution of delegates. It’s worth making that early enquiry’.