Annual Industry th
South African Tourism’s Laura Saeger (far left) says five-star trips are back; Carlson’s Fay Beauchine sees group travel bouncing back; Incentive Executive Editor Leo Jakobson
with any of the customers that we’ve been working with. We’ve seen it as a supplement to group
travel platforms that they already have in place,
or for running a short-term incentive program to
motivate sales of a certain product line.
INCENTIVE: Is luxury travel coming back?
Are companies willing to be seen in luxury
destinations and hotels?
Pavony: Four Seasons’ traditional customer
is back in the group segment. I think some of
our clients tried other brands and found that
that did not quite bring the results that they
wanted. For 2012 and ’ 13 we see a significant
increase in our incentive business. It’s refreshing to see a heightened demand on space.
INCENTIVE: Are clients still staying closer to
home or returning to long haul?
Beauchine: China and South Africa are up
there in the top 10. People really want to go to
these places. The other thing is when the automotive companies came back, they skipped
domestic and went right to international.
Herod: Brazil, Argentina. Costa Rica is on
our top international list.
Pavony: I agree, Costa Rica and Buenos Aires
are very popular. In addition, we’re already
starting to see greater interest from our clients
who want to go back to Bali, to China, to Thai-
land. Eastern Europe is popular. Prague was
very hot five years ago, and is back in demand.
Schuldt: China is still at the head of the
pack. Asian destinations are three out of the
top four, and Dubai was the fourth. I did a
poll of some of my DMCs and, interestingly
enough, North America is the slowest in
recovery for incentives into Asia.
Saeger: I would say that, all in all, we’re
definitely seeing a recovery. We’re seeing an
increase in RFPs. We’re seeing an increase in
the number of people who are willing to consider a longer haul destination. South African
Tourism’s research at the end of February
showed a 27 percent increase in travel overseas, which is the biggest reported since 2007.
We have a very strong base in automotive and
financial programs this year, so South Africa
is very optimistic about the incentive market,
especially out of the United States.
INCENTIVE: How’s Las Vegas doing?
Goldy: We’re seeing a steady recovery. Lead
volume is up, business is up. The perception is
changing. Financial groups are coming. Pharmaceuticals are coming. We’re excited about
the momentum, and we’ve virtually seen no
cancellations right now.
INCENTIVE: After Hurricane Katrina there
was a lot of effort to take programs to New
Orleans. Will the same thing happen for Japan?
Beauchine: I don’t think that a lot of incentive groups will go until the nuclear situation is cleared up there, but meetings with
pharmaceutical companies are happening
there because you have to sell drugs in Japan.
That’s another country that I think this industry really wants to support and get behind.
INCENTIVE: We’ve seen a lot of cutting
around the edges in the past few years in
terms of room gifts, F&B, and golf and spa.
Are those coming back?
Herod: I think golf and spa have come back. It’s
the room gifts. It’s the top-name entertainers. It’s
those kinds of things that they cut out, not the luxury day-to-day things that make them very happy.
Pavony: We’ve seen a little more free time
incorporated into programs and an effort to cut
costs. We are also seeing more of the budget
placed into the food and beverage events to
elevate the culinary experience. With the growing popularity of Top Chef and Food Network,
more people are becoming engaged in food,
wines, and preparation. There are high expectations for the culinary experience. ■
A longer and more detailed version of this year’s
Annual Industry Roundtable is available at