Selling incentive travel business is different from other types of travel, however, for corporate or leisure agents who are likely to understand the ropes, this really is a profitable niche, with potentially high returns.
“Historically it’s been the highest spend per person of any sort of group travel,” said Bruce Tepper, vice president of Joselyn, Tepper & Associates, a travel industry consulting and training firm.
“This is also a business containing never been driven by commission. Agents, not the suppliers, set the margins. It’s lucrative.”
Incentives can also appeal to agents looking for a new challenge. “It’s new things and other and causes you to learn something totally new and new ways of doing things,” Tepper said.
The initial step after opting to pursue incentive company is being willing to dedicate staff on the effort, whether it’s existing staff that will be trained or new hires focused on incentives.
Once that decision is made, agents have to get training.
Now can be a good time to achieve that. SITE, the Society of Incentive Travel Executives, intends to launch a brand new Certified Incentive Specialist program by the end of the year. The two-day program will likely be designed for incentive travel newcomers and can not require membership in SITE nor any minimum experience.
Incentive travel sellers need to understand companies along with their motivational goals, whether that’s inspiring staff to market more or moving customers to buy more services and products.
Once agents know the way incentives work, they need to start seeking incentive business from existing clients. A primarily leisure agency might mine its client base for executives or company owners. Agents who are country club members are able to also have that as a good source of potential clients.
Incentive travel is really a natural for incentive travel company. “Use your very own client base to identify possible leads and after that check out their employee rewards program,” said Tim Smith, president of GlobalPoint Travel Solutions, a $70 million agency in San Diego, which does about 3% from the business in meetings and conventions.
“It’s quicker to sell a program for an individual or company with whom you own an existing relationship as opposed to chasing a vaporous potential consumer. Love the one you’re with and you’ll expand your influence,” Smith said.
Identifying potential customers
Those that want to go after new clients won’t find it hard to find prospects.
“An industry in everyone’s backyard that utilizes incentives in many cases is car dealers,” said Tepper. “Even a small dealer has 20 or 30 salespeople.
“Look for distributors of anything, like Coca Cola and Pepsi bottlers. You don’t really need to be in New York City, Chicago or L . A . to get started on,” Tepper said.
Utilizing incentive groups requires both a new mindset and new list of contacts.
“You’ll be handling an entirely different network of suppliers,” Tepper added. “Even together with the airlines and hotel companies you’ll be coping with differing people.
“And, you’ve have got to enter in to this thinking forget commission. We do everything from net. What pricing we use determines whatever we sell for.”
Agents seeking incentive business also have to decide on their agency’s amount of involvement. They could designate a passionate team to designing, managing and implementing incentive programs or seek the help of meeting and incentive planners.
Operating the incentive business directly is, of course, more lucrative. Additionally, it means agents can not only take across the incentive business of clients with existing programs but will seek out firms that have never had a reason program.
A different way to get involved in this business is to team track of a meeting planner or meeting and incentive house. “It might be the perfect action to take. There are many one- or two-person meeting planning businesses that might choose to pair on top of an agent.” said Tepper.
An alternative choice would be to partner having a company like Oyster Bay, N.Y.-based Acclaim Meetings, which works together with agents on negotiations, bookings, commission collection and technology. (Editor’s note: Properties of American Marketing Group, Acclaim Meetings is actually a sister company to Travel Market Report.)
Knowing the organization is crucial
In any event, the way to succeed is knowing incentive programs and exactly how they operate, based on Anne Marie Moebes, executive vice president of Acclaim Meetings.
“An agent first needs to understand why the corporation offers the incentive; what their set goals are and why the staff member is motivated to win the incentive,” she said.
“If you recognize what’s in it for all those parties, the agent will make an educated decision about what to offer as the travel product,” she said.
“It must meet the budget and requirements in the sponsoring company but simultaneously entice the winner/employee as well as their spouse or guest should they be portion of the program. Frequently the spouse is most likely the driving influence.”
As with all areas of travel, developing relationships is vital not just for clients but also for vendors. “You should work very closely with vendors. Use preferred vendors therefore you know they will go all out,” said Wendy Burk, CEO of La Jolla, Calif.-based Cadence Travel.
“Use those you will have a longtime relationship with, because ultimately it’s all about relationships,” Burk added. “The danger of handling corporate, leisure and meetings will be the domino effect. In the event you screw up one you’ll screw up these three.”
Advice for smaller agencies
Although larger agencies with dedicated incentive travel staff might be more prone to handle incentive programs without outside help, even smaller agencies will go it alone.
Carol Horner came up with Virginia Beach, Va.-based Horner Incentive Group in the mid-1900s after several years for an agent and agency owner. She and her husband still own a travel agency but were advised early on to generate a different name and identity for the incentive business.
“That’s whatever we did and thank goodness, because we changed our agency’s name thrice. With my incentive business the name stayed the identical right from the start,” she said.
All-inclusives for incentives
As being a smaller agency with annual sales of $8 million, Horner finds it simpler to utilize all-inclusives in the programs. She accustomed to create cruise incentives however 49dexqpky programs featuring Mexican and Caribbean all-inclusives.
“You convey more flexibility with land-based programs. You could do more team-building activities,” she said “A cruise is just too restricting for some people with regards to the dining. The VIP feels obligated to get along with the employees each night. And it’s much more lucrative to do an all-inclusive compared to a cruise.”
Allow it to be unforgettable
The work of your incentive planner is to create unforgettable experiences for participants.
“The most crucial thing will be the wow factor – the wow factor in relation to the venue, the entertainment, the graphic design and the theme to thank their potential customers or top employees,” said Cadence Travel’s Burk.
“It could be ordinary London or Paris, but it will probably be something they can’t buy off the shelf. Every aspect will likely be unique.”