Special issue with the Sunday Magazine
TIME OUT : May 2, 1999
Mixing business with pleasure
Behind the frills of liberalisation - swanky cars, cellphones, laptops, computers, branded clothes, multi-national fast food, MTV... in short, the off-the-shelf-at-a-price upwardly mobile urban life - works a machine that respects only money. Christened "corporate", this machine stops for none in its quest for money in the great marketplace that life has become in urban India.
Sucked into this corporate vortex by the lure of the lucre, the urban desis who have become cogs in the wheel of this global machine soon found themselves using a new lexicon - that of modern living - in which the word "stress" and "travel" feature prominently. The money is good, but corporatedom - unlike the laid back system that most Indians are accustomed to - is demanding.
Ruthless, though corporatedom is, it has brought along with it a time-tested mechanism of helping the employees - primarily at the middle/ higher management levels - deal with the stresses and strains of working in a corporate house. Keeping them motivated is important. More important is keeping the "batteries" of these employees charged. So, what do they do? The answer is simple: out go the board-room meetings, in come the brainstorming sessions - at an exotic locale or a luxury liner in international waters. Yes, a getaway, which allows you to mix business with pleasure.
In fact, weekend getaways have become fashionable. Many a corporate house with offices at Delhi prefer having their meetings in one of the resorts that dot the Capital's outskirts. The Neemrana Fort Palace - hidden in the folds of the Aravallis - for instance, is a hot favourite. And why not.
Far from the madding crowd - yet not so far - this heritage resort along with the Sita property in nearby Manesar allows corporate higher-ups to bring their families for a weekend business-cum-pleasure trip. Sunday is for the family - in the lap of luxury; and, all paid for by the company - in most cases.
Another preferred - albeit, a trifle distant and off-beat destination - is the Corbett National Park. A five hour drive from Delhi, it provides the jaded and routine-weary city-dwelling executive an opportunity to energise in nature's own workshop. Recognising the growing need for such getaways, the Tiger Tops Corbett Lodge took the lead in putting up a fully-furnished conference facility.
In fact, such packages - the more exotic ones in particular - have made touring for work a pleasurable experience. Monica Dhar, who works with Abacus Distribution Systems, still bubbles with excitement at memories of a training programme she attended off the coast of Singapore last year. "The programme was aboard a liner in international waters near Malacca. An experience of a different kind, the three-nights-four-days training session had a lot of fun thrown in."
Travel, be it for work, holiday or both, has become such an important component of corporatedom that many companies have a travel desk in their offices to cater to this aspect of corporate existence. Companies like Shri Ram Fibres (SRF), Hughes Escorts Communications and Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) have employed a travel agency to provide them with personnel to chalk out plans for their employees.
Says Simi who handles the travel desk at SRF: "Most of our senior executives travel only for business. But, during the holiday season, we do have them taking their families along."
While Hughes Escorts and ABB have more or less similar arrangements for business-cum-pleasure travel of their top-level executives, ABB extends some facilities to those in the middle rung. With a chain of guest houses in most major cities and some tourist hot spots, including Manali, Kodaikanal and Nainital, ABB employees can hope to take their families out for a holiday without fearing a dent in their savings.
It would appear that corporate travelling is also an import from the globalised world into which India entered earlier this decade. But employees of Engineers India (EIL), - a public sector undertaking offering consultancy services to mega engineering projects - say otherwise. Before corporatedom took roots in India, EIL had entered into tie-ups with resorts in Goa, Shimla and Ooty.
Now that business-cum-pleasure travel is gaining currency, more and more players in the hospitality industry are tailoring their facilities to provide for this segment of travellers. This, despite companies cutting down on travel due to recession. For, those in the business of hospitality and travel know only too well how potent the sting of the travel bug is - particularly when urban life with its merits is fast losing its appeal. Today, a "speedy getaway" from the frenzied throb of modern life is being recognised as the best therapy for those drained by the nine-to-beyond-five grind.
Copyrights © 1999, The Hindu.
Republication or redissemination ofthe contents of this screen are expressly prohibited
without the written consent of The Hindu.