Mumbai, like all other Indian cities, had undergone a difficult period last year, during the COVID-19 induced lockdown, which forced many local businesses to remain shut for months, especially those that belonged to the hospitality, retail, and entertainment sector. The losses that such businesses incurred were so high in some cases that their owners were either forced to shut shop or incorporate drastic cost-cutting measures, in order to survive.
However, in the true Mumbai spirit, the city has already started to put that period behind and begun to rebuild its hospitality sector and consumer-driven businesses. The Mumbai Festival, which kickstarted on Monday, is a step in that direction. It is the first of its kind event since the pandemic, which has brought together a vast cross-section of local businesses, and consumers to boost the city economy and tourism. The event has been organized jointly by the Maharashtra tourism, and Things2Do (a hyperlocal community that curates and creates events).
The 21-day long festival boasts many attractions and is spread across Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, and Thane. As a part of this festival, there will be a Sand Art event on 29th and 30th January 2021 at Girgaon Chowpatty. Organized in collaboration with the Indian Heritage Society, many sand artists will come together to display their art through sand sculptures as a part of this event. The sculptures will be based on Mumbai's heritage sites, architecture and culture. On 31st January, from 8 am onwards, a Vintage Car Rally will begin at BKC, Bandra and end at Ballard Pier. The event will showcase the rare beauty of over 100-150 classic 1900's bikes and cars. The race will happen through the main SoBo streets and is open to all for viewing.
"There are a lot of camping sites that are a part of this festival too. Midnight cycling tours are also being organized. We have specifically curated high tea as a category for our women consumers so that they can get together with their friends and enjoy," pointed out Yash Rathi, the CEO and co-founder of Things2Do. Apart from that, Rathi added that the festival would also screen many iconic Bollywood films (at minimal costs) in association with PVR cinemas.
On 13th and 14th February, a Festoberry event will be held at R City Mall, Ghatkopar as a part of this festival. During this two-day long event, consumers can feast on a plethora of delicious strawberry dishes, and play new games, or attend workshops and participate in contests.
"So far, the response we have received has been fantastic... Within the first few hours of the event being often to the public, we have seen at least 1000 registration, and that's what is giving us hope that in the coming days, more people would step forward to support the event," said Rathi. The event is likely to be an annual celebration moving forward, and Things2do aims to take it to other cities, including Pune.
"The core thought that we and the ministry of tourism had while organizing this event was to ensure that all COVID-19 guidelines are met, and at the same time to ensure public visits multiple different locations across the city, rather than crowding at a single place, for a single event," pointed out Rathi.
Rathi said that over 1000 local businesses have signed up for the event, and hopes to leverage out of it. "The campaign has been thought around the merchants especially after the terrible losses they faced during the pandemic, and the idea we are going with is, 'Apun Ke Liye, Apun Ke Mumbai Ke Liye'. We are doing this to bring back the local economy and tourism on its feet. Therefore, we have tried to make it as easy as possible for vendors to register with us, and the response we have received from local entrepreneurs and businesses has been amazing. We are still getting 50 to 100 calls a day from different categories and brands, to become a part of the festival," claimed Rathi.
"Most of the businesses which have already registered are those businesses with which we have worked for a long time. Therefore, we understand how they work, what are the pain points, what will drive conversions for them and we are using those insights from the past to help them leverage out of the festival," Rathi added.
However, he pointed out that the event is as profitable for the consumers as it is for the vendors. The consumers, according to Rathi, are essentially getting many free experiences, or getting them for a minimal amount.
"The idea is to create a free shopping experience for the end-users. So, for example, if you want to book a Sahara Star Sunday Brunch, it will cost you approximately Rs 5000 in regular times. During this festival, you can avail that at 2500, and as soon as you make the transaction to buy it, you also get a free stay at any MTDC resort worth Rs 2500. So, it is eventually a free shopping experience for the consumer," concluded Rathi.
While bringing together big and small restaurants, shopping malls and retail outlets, curated events, and hotels that organize staycation to the consumers is no mean feat, the event's preparation had been on for the past three months. In December, the MOU was signed in the presence of Mr Aditya Thackeray after which the event went live and was open to the public.
Commenting on the MoU signing with Things2do, Aditya Thackeray, Minister of State Tourism had said in a press release, "Mumbai's diverse culture and the experiential market has received a new springboard today with the signing of this MoU between Maharashtra Tourism and Things2do. Things2do is a platform for the tourists as well as locals of the city to explore places and experience the specialities that our Mumbai has to offer."
"The Mumbai Festival will be jointly promoted and curated by us. The festival will be organized by keeping in mind all the safety measures and adhering to the COVID guidelines. I am sure that the Mumbaikars will have the best experiences at The Mumbai festival," he added.
The Mumbai Festival is now open.