Planning an incentive program for your most profitable customers or an executive retreat for your top decision makers?
Do you know the ins and outs of the planning process, the best hotels to book or the latest negotiation trends? Relying on your third-party meeting and incentive planning team is your best way to check all the boxes and take your program to the next level. Our experts have shared their top considerations you should think about when selecting a location for your next incentive trip.
Travel Dates –What season will it be when your program travels? Will your attendees be leaving from winter weather to warm sunshine? If so, you may want to consider adding an extra day for travel to allow for travel delays on departure day due to winter weather.
Travel Time – What is the average flight time for attendees to get to your destination? Will there be mandatory red-eye flights for those from the west coast? Will some attendees need to fly in a day early to a hub city in order to get to the destination as planned? If so, plan on an additional night of accommodations at the hub city for those attendees. How many time zones will attendees be flying through to the destination? If 8 hours or longer, consider the time of arrival at the destination. For example, if flying to Hawaii and arriving late afternoon/early evening, you may want to offer an in-room meal and schedule a group breakfast to welcome the group. Do flight schedules indicate early morning arrivals into your destination? If so, you may want to add an extra day of accommodations so that attendees can go directly to their room upon arrival instead of waiting for a 4pm check in. If considering Europe, you may also want to add a night to your normal program length to make up for the overnight flight to your destination.
Destination Weather – What can your attendees expect? Will hurricane season possibly affect your destination? Is your destination in the mountains and require bulky items and extra luggage charges (such as coats, skis, etc)?
Destination Gifts – Does your destination allow you to add meaningful gifts to your attendees’ stay such as a logoed fleece jacket if going to the mountains? A logoed beach bag with sunscreen if going to the beach? An umbrella if going to Ireland? A multi-pocketed vest for a safari?
Attendees’ Hopes – Do you ask your attendees where they’d like to go? You may be assuming they always love a warm destination but really, might they enjoy a Mediterranean cruise?
Attendees’ Profile – What is their age group? Adventurous or chill by the pool? Trail blazers or tried-and-true programs? All-inclusive or some meals included?
Attendees’ Palate – Is the destination known for its cuisine? Can you all learn something new through the destination’s food or beverages? Can you work in walking food tours of the city? Is there an opportunity to enjoy a hands-on learning experience from a local chef? Is there a distillery or vineyard or brewery to explore? Can you do some sort of local tasting at a group reception such as tequila, whiskey, wines? Does the destination offer enough great, local restaurants that you could do a dine around program for the group (10 people per restaurant)?
Give Back – Is there an opportunity to give back to the destination in the way of short-term volunteering or working for a special cause during the program? Could you ask each couple to bring a book to add to a local library?
Hotel Capacity – Do you have 200 people but are hoping for a mountain chalet? Do you have 15 rooms but want to be the only group in the hotel? Be realistic with your expectations.
Budget – Are you looking for a 5* luxury experience but budgeting for a 3* minimum service hotel? Travel rates (air, hotel, F&B, ground transportation) rise each year. Do you expect to wow your guests in 2024 with the same budget you had in 2019?
Program Objectives – Do you want the group to stay together for most of the time? A cruise or all-inclusive works well for that. Do you want the group to explore on their own? In Europe, a centrally located city hotel with a multiple day rail pass works well. Domestically, you can offer optional excursions for those who want to explore but ensure that the hotel is a full-service hotel in a conveniently located spot that offers full spa, pools, restaurants, etc.
Local Activities – Does the destination offer nearby activities that will engage your attendees such as a night phosphorescent boat trip? A 4-wheel drive outing for a chance to see the Northern Lights? Horseback riding along the beach? Whale watching on a sunset cruise? A private dinner in a castle? Learning how to make pasta and eating it for lunch? Witness just hatched turtles make their way to the ocean? Look for the activities that make your destination special.
Destination Status – A commonly heard goal for incentive trips is to provide a program that attendees couldn’t or wouldn’t do on their own. Is the destination well known to your attendees? Have the majority of your attendees been to this destination before (on their own or with a group)? Do you sense that this destination is a bucket list destination for your attendees? Is the destination known to you or suggested to you by a neighbor/co-worker? Will you consider a completely new to you destination for your program?
If you are looking for expert planners to assist with your corporate events, reach out to our Fox Meetings and Incentives team!
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