Thinking of managing your incentive travel trip internally? While that might be feasible for smaller companies, you might actually be spending more than you would have by enlisting the help of an incentive travel company.
Incentive travel companies help businesses plan, promote, and manage their incentive travel programs. We sat down with Incentive Solutions’ Deven Crane (Director of Travel Services), who was recently featured in an article on AmericanExpress.com, and Amy Green (Travel Account Manager). Amy and Deven have a combined 45 years or experience in the incentive travel industry – they’ve seen it all!
Together, we discussed the value proposition of working with incentive travel companies, as well as mistakes businesses make when trying to manage their incentive travel programs internally.
Budget Considerations for Incentive Travel Companies
Of course, incentive travel companies charge money for their services. This may seem like an added cost to your incentive travel program, but is it really? Incentive travel companies have networks of suppliers, partners, and vendors in cities across the world. Since they do business with the vendors more frequently, incentive travel companies often get priority placement, bulk discounts, and preferred rates.
“You also have to take into account the cost of managing your program internally,” said Deven Crane. “How much would it cost to pay a salaried employee to manage your travel program, versus outsourcing it to an incentive travel company? How much would you save on airfare and accommodations by working with an incentive travel company?”
That’s not to mention the potentials costs you risk by trying to manage your program internally…
How Incentive Travel Companies Protect Your Brand
Incentive travel is supposed to be a memorable, exciting reward for the people who matter most to your company. But what about when things go wrong? A bad incentive travel experience could damage your brand with clients or sour a high-value channel partner on your company – or worse.
“Another thing that leisure travelers don’t think of is that we have trusted suppliers and trusted partners,” said Amy Green. “And that’s really important. They’ve been vetted. We know they have insurance. We know that they have good judgment. It’s really important that you don’t get there and someone has skipped out with your deposit or they can’t deliver on what they promised.”
Incentive travel companies help manage your incentive travel event to make sure logistics are seamless and that your travelers stay safe.
Crafting Memorable Experiences and Ensuring Comfort
In addition, incentive travel companies expand the value that your incentive travel program offers to participants.
“Leading up to the trip, travelers need reminders, they need itineraries, they need to know dress codes, how to navigate the airport, what they should pack, whether they need a visa. The list goes on,” said Deven Crane. “We help to manage all of that.
“From the time they get to the airport, there are all these little things you can do to make their experience more positive and less stressful,” said Amy Green.
Memorability is an important aspect of incentive travel. Incentive travel companies can help you theme events and access exclusive venues.
“I did an event in Venice one time – it was a Venetian carnival, and we did a hunt for your own mask scavenger hunt,” said Deven Crane. “Everyone was given 50 euros and they had to walk through the streets of Venice to find the mask that they were going to wear that night.”
(Photo by Vlad Hilitanu)
“Then we had costume tailors come in and take their sizes and put them in Venetian costumes. And then we took the gondolas across the canal to this huge auditorium and had a Venetian dinner and dance. The people on that program, they’ll never forget that. It was amazing.”
Deven Crane also mentioned a private touring of the Sistine Chapel he was able to book for one travel group as the kind of once-in-a-lifetime experiences that incentive travel companies help create.
Mistakes Companies Make When Managing their Incentive Travel Events Internally
We asked Deven and Amy about the mistakes companies make when they try to manage their incentive travel program on their own:
- Failing to vet vendors and suppliers.
“HR managers might just call the ‘Uber’ of London and expect the black cars to be at the airport when they get there. Just because a potential vendor has a website doesn’t mean that they’re actually legit. Or that they’ll be able to deliver on what they promise.” – Amy Green
- Not taking seasonal climate into account.
“Make sure the season’s right. The worst thing you could do is go to Costa Rica in May or June, because that’s rainy season and it’ll rain every day. Which, that’s beautiful and that’s tropical, but you can only take so much. Also, don’t go to Mexico in July unless you want to burn.” – Deven Crane
- Over-structuring itineraries.
“Don’t over-structure your guests. That’s a very big deal. Some clients feel like they need to constantly entertain their guests. And then what happens after a few days is the guests start to rebel and stop showing up. Guests need a little downtime, they need a window to go shopping, to take a nap, to go to their hotel.” – Amy Green
- Failing to clearly communicate logistics.
“We tell travelers how to navigate fast through the airport. How much time they should allow to get through security. What kind of credentials they need to travel, in case there are visas are required. We can help answer that. All those little things to keep people from being surprised when they get to the airport.” – Amy Green
- Not paying attention to dress code
“Make sure people adhere to the dress codes of the resorts they go to. It’s really a bummer if they get there and they’re supposed to have a collared shirt and they only have t-shirts.” – Deven Crane
Looking for an Incentive Travel Company? Check Out Incentive Solutions!
Interested in learning more about incentive travel? Let Deven Crane and Amy Green help plan and manage your next incentive travel trip!
(Banner Image Courtesy of Adrian Krajcar)