Selling incentive travel business differs from other types of travel, but for corporate or leisure agents who are prepared to learn the ropes, this is a profitable niche, with potentially high returns.
“Historically it’s been the best 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 can be another business that has never been driven by commission. Agents, not the suppliers, set the margins. It’s lucrative.”
Incentives also may appeal to agents trying to find a new challenge. “It’s something totally new as well as other and causes you to learn interesting things and new methods for doing things,” Tepper said.
The first step after opting to pursue incentive company is being happy to dedicate staff towards the effort, whether it’s existing staff which will be trained or new hires devoted to incentives.
Once that decision is manufactured, agents want to get training.
Now may be a good time to achieve that. SITE, the Society of Incentive Travel Executives, wants to launch a whole new Certified Incentive Specialist program in the end of the season. The two-day program will probably be made for incentive travel newcomers and definately will not require membership in SITE nor any minimum experience.
Incentive travel sellers need to comprehend companies in addition to their motivational goals, whether that’s inspiring staff to promote more or moving customers to acquire more products and services.
Once agents recognize how incentives work, they ought to start seeking incentive business from existing clients. A primarily leisure agency might mine its client base for executives or company owners. Agents who definitely are country club members are able to also employ that as a good source of potential clients.
Incentive travel can be a natural for incentive travel groups. “Use your very own 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, Ca, which does about 3% of its business in meetings and conventions.
“It’s much easier to sell a course to a individual or company with whom you own an existing relationship rather than chasing a vaporous possible client. Love normally the one you’re with and you’ll expand your influence,” Smith said.
Identifying potential customers
Those who wish to go after new clients won’t struggle to find prospects.
“An industry in everyone’s backyard that uses 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 have to be in The Big Apple, Chicago or La to begin,” Tepper said.
Utilizing incentive groups requires both a whole new mindset and new pair of contacts.
“You’ll be coping with a completely different network of suppliers,” Tepper added. “Even together with the airlines and hotel companies you’ll be working with different people.
“And, you’ve got to enter in to this thinking forget commission. We do anything from net. What pricing we use will determine what we should sell for.”
Agents seeking incentive business also need to select their agency’s level of involvement. They may designate a dedicated team to designing, managing and implementing incentive programs or seek help from meeting and incentive planners.
Operating the incentive business directly is, needless to say, more lucrative. In addition, it means agents are unable to usually take within the incentive business of clients with existing programs but could find firms that have never had a reason program.
An additional way to get involved with the company is to team with a gathering planner or meeting and incentive house. “It could be the perfect course of action. There are many one- or two-person meeting planning firms that might choose to pair with a real estate agent.” said Tepper.
An alternative is usually to partner with a company like Oyster Bay, N.Y.-based Acclaim Meetings, which works jointly with agents on negotiations, bookings, commission collection and technology. (Editor’s note: Properties of American Marketing Group, Acclaim Meetings is a sister company to Travel Market Report.)
Learning the organization is crucial
In any event, the way to succeed is understanding incentive programs and just how they operate, as outlined by Anne Marie Moebes, executive vice president of Acclaim Meetings.
“An agent first needs to understand why the company is offering the incentive; what their goals are and why the staff member is motivated to win the incentive,” she said.
“If you recognize what’s inside it for many parties, the agent can certainly make an informed decision on what to provide because the travel product,” she said.
“It must match the budget and requirements in the sponsoring company but at the same time entice the winner/employee in addition to their spouse or guest when they are part of the program. Often the spouse could be the driving influence.”
As with every area of travel, developing relationships is vital not merely for clients but for vendors. “You should work very closely with vendors. Use preferred vendors so that you know they will likely go all the way,” said Wendy Burk, CEO of La Jolla, Calif.-based Cadence Travel.
“Use those you will have a longtime relationship with, because in the long run it’s all about relationships,” Burk added. “The danger of handling corporate, leisure and meetings may be the domino effect. When you screw up one you’ll screw up these three.”
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 may go it by themselves.
Carol Horner came up with Virginia Beach, Va.-based Horner Incentive Group within the mid-1900s after a long period for an agent and agency owner. She and her husband still own a travel agency but were advised in 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 thrice. With my incentive business the name stayed exactly the same right away,” she said.
All-inclusives for incentives
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 however 49dexqpky programs featuring Mexican and Caribbean all-inclusives.
“You acquire more flexibility with land-based programs. You can do more team-building activities,” she said “A cruise is way too restricting for a few people regarding the dining. The VIP feels obligated to get along with the staff every evening. And it’s a lot more lucrative to perform an all-inclusive when compared to a cruise.”
Help it become unforgettable
The position of any incentive planner would be to create unforgettable experiences for participants.
“The single most important thing is definitely the wow factor – the wow factor with regards to the venue, the entertainment, the graphic design along with the theme to thank their clientele or top employees,” said Cadence Travel’s Burk.
“It could even be ordinary London or Paris, but it will be something they can’t buy out of the box. Every aspect will probably be unique.”