TRAVEL BUYERS HANDBOOK
Aseller’s market, low occupancy rates, and incentive winners that have been there and done that make choosing a
destination challenging. Add to this, recent concerns over safety
and the e;ects of natural disasters on popular places for groups,
and you have even more criteria to consider.
According to the latest SITE Index, buyers and sellers were
asked to rank seven criteria for selecting one destination over
another for incentive travel programs. Destination appeal was the
top reason, whereas access from participants’ city or origin came
in at ;;h place. ;e top three in;uencers were recommendations
from trade associations, incentive houses or travel partners, and
word of mouth within the organization.
“;e Caribbean has been our number-one incentive travel
destination for the last couple of years, but this has shi;ed recently,”
reports Bonnie Boisner, VP of event management at Minneapolis-based One10, a performance improvement company (formerly
Aimia). “;ere’s demand for new ‘exotic’ destinations, but
generally, they want resorts in sun-and-fun locations.”
WHERE GROUPS ARE GOING
California has risen in popularity of late with Laguna Beach, San
Diego, Palm Springs, and Los Angeles the places to be. In addition,
Aspen/Vail/Telluride in Colorado, Scottsdale, Ariz., and New
Orleans seem to rate highly as well.
“Park City, Utah, is growing in popularity for incentives due
to its all-year-round outdoor activities, and it is easy to get to
via Salt Lake City airport,” says Catherine Chaulet, president of
Global DMC Partners in Washington, D.C. “;ere is also easy,
complimentary transportation around the town via trolley service
and the Park City transit.”
“With some clients a little wary about traveling internationally,
they’re willing to travel to more remote domestic locations in
order to have an experience,” says Katy Gettinger Eagen, VP
of group sales, insurance and ;nancial for Preferred Hotels &
Resorts. “;ey’re ;ne with having two connections to maybe get to
Vermont, Sedona, Charleston or Savannah.”
Naturally, there are groups undeterred about traveling abroad
as evidenced by continued heavy interest in Europe — London,
Paris, Monte Carlo, and Lisbon.
Internationally, Mexico has been a top incentive destination,
particularly Los Cabos, says Global DMC Partners’ Chaulet,
along with Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Italy,
and Greece. Secondary European cities like Geneva, Florence,
and Amsterdam are on the radar as well. Eagen especially likes
Amsterdam for its ease of access and friendliness.
Hot Incentive Destinations
FAMILIAR FAVORITES RULE, BUT UP-AND-COMING DESTINATIONS COULD
BE JUST THE INSPIRATIONAL TICKET
Destinations that are rising in popularity for incentives include
Asian countries like Cambodia, and Vietnam, which have an
exotic and di;erent appeal for groups so inclined.
“Morocco, Portugal, Poland, Croatia, and Malta are very
appealing for incentive groups due to their cost value in
combination with their cultural appeal,” says Chaulet.
In fact, Game of ;rones fans have made Dubrovnik, Croatia,
an o;-the-beaten-path but alluring European destination. ;e
show has ;lmed there.
Right now, the destination with the most buzz on both the
incentive and leisure sides of travel is Iceland, a place most people
have never been to, which gives it huge novelty appeal.
Renee Robertson, purchasing director for MFactor Meetings in
PARK CITY, UTAH