Selling incentive travel business is different from other kinds of travel, however for corporate or leisure agents who are prepared to understand the ropes, this is a profitable niche, with potentially high returns.
“Historically it’s been the greatest spend per person of almost any group travel,” said Bruce Tepper, v . p . of Joselyn, Tepper & Associates, a travel industry consulting and training firm.
“This is yet another business which includes never been driven by commission. Agents, not the suppliers, set the margins. It’s lucrative.”
Incentives can also attract agents looking for a new challenge. “It’s something totally new and different and enables you to learn new things and new means of doing things,” Tepper said.
The first step after choosing to pursue incentive company is being ready to dedicate staff towards the effort, whether it’s existing staff that will be trained or new hires devoted to incentives.
Once that decision is made, agents want to get training.
Now might be a good time to do that. SITE, the Society of Incentive Travel Executives, wants to launch a fresh Certified Incentive Specialist program in the end of year. The 2-day program is going to be designed for incentive travel newcomers and may not require membership in SITE nor any minimum experience.
Incentive travel sellers need to understand companies in addition to their motivational goals, whether that’s inspiring staff to market more or moving customers to acquire more services and products.
Once agents recognize how incentives work, they must start seeking incentive business from existing clients. A primarily leisure agency might mine its customer base for executives or company owners. Agents who are country club members are able to likewise use that as an excellent source of prospective clients.
Incentive travel is a natural for top incentive travel companies. “Use your own personal client base to recognize possible leads then find out about their employee rewards program,” said Tim Smith, president of GlobalPoint Travel Solutions, a $70 million agency in San Diego County, which does about 3% of their business in meetings and conventions.
“It’s quicker to sell a course to a individual or company with whom you possess an existing relationship rather than chasing a vaporous potential client. Love normally the one you’re with and you’ll expand your influence,” Smith said.
Those who want to go after new customers won’t find it hard to find prospects.
“An industry in everyone’s backyard which utilizes incentives quite often 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 need to be in The Big Apple, Chicago or Los Angeles to start,” Tepper said.
Working with incentive groups requires both a whole new mindset and new pair of contacts.
“You’ll be coping with an entirely different network of suppliers,” Tepper added. “Even with the airlines and hotel companies you’ll be coping with each person.
“And, you’ve reached come into this thinking forget commission. Perform everything from net. What pricing we use will determine what we should sell for.”
Agents seeking incentive business also have to choose their agency’s measure of involvement. They are able to designate a dedicated team to designing, managing and implementing incentive programs or seek the aid of meeting and incentive planners.
Operating the incentive business directly is, needless to say, more lucrative. Additionally, it means agents are unable to usually take over the incentive business of clients with existing programs but may find businesses that have not had a reason program.
An additional way to get involved with the organization would be to team up with a conference planner or meeting and incentive house. “It may be the perfect action to take. There are many one- or two-person meeting planning firms that might choose to pair with an agent.” said Tepper.
Another option is usually to partner with 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 can be a sister company traveling Market Report.)
Comprehending the organization is crucial
In any case, the key to success is understanding incentive programs and how they operate, in accordance with Anne Marie Moebes, executive vice president of Acclaim Meetings.
“An agent first needs to understand why the company is offering the incentive; what their set goals are and why the worker is motivated to win the incentive,” she said.
“If you are aware of what’s inside it for all those parties, the agent will make a well informed decision about what to provide as being the travel product,” she said.
“It must meet the budget and requirements of your sponsoring company but at the same time entice the winner/employee as well as their spouse or guest should they be area of the program. Frequently the spouse could possibly be the driving influence.”
As in every area of travel, developing relationships is crucial not merely for clients but also for vendors. “You need to work very closely with vendors. Use preferred vendors so you know they will likely go all the way,” said Wendy Burk, CEO of La Jolla, Calif.-based Cadence Travel.
“Use those you do have a longtime relationship with, because in the end it’s exactly about relationships,” Burk added. “The danger of handling corporate, leisure and meetings may be the domino effect. If you screw up one you’ll screw up the 3.”
Advice for smaller agencies
Although larger agencies with dedicated incentive travel staff could be more prone to handle incentive programs without outside help, even smaller agencies can go it by themselves.
Carol Horner come up with Virginia Beach, Va.-based Horner Incentive Group inside the mid-1900s after a long period as an agent and agency owner. She and her husband still own a travel agency but were advised at the beginning to produce a different name and identity for the incentive business.
“That’s what we did and thank goodness, because we changed our agency’s name three times. With my incentive business the name stayed the identical right away,” she said.
All-inclusives for incentives
As being a smaller agency with annual sales of $8 million, Horner finds it simpler to make use of all-inclusives in the programs. She employed to create cruise incentives the good news is 49dexqpky programs featuring Mexican and Caribbean all-inclusives.
“You have more flexibility with land-based programs. That can be done more team-building activities,” she said “A cruise is simply too restricting for many in terms of the dining. The VIP feels obligated to get along with the staff every night. And it’s considerably more lucrative to do an all-inclusive compared to a cruise.”
Make it unforgettable
The task of an incentive planner would be to create unforgettable experiences for participants.
“The single most important thing will be the wow factor – the wow factor in terms of the venue, the entertainment, the graphic design along with the theme to thank their customers or top employees,” said Cadence Travel’s Burk.
“It could be ordinary London or Paris, but it will be something they can’t buy off the shelf. Every aspect is going to be unique.”