Written by Lynne Embling
February 14, 2017
Using a travel incentive agency will help smooth your workload, ensure deadlines are met and, importantly, help control costs. Here’s how to make the best use of their expertise:
The world’s your oyster, yes? Unfortunately, not always! There are a number of factors that will narrow your choices and it’s surprising how much the world shrinks when you apply your ‘must-haves’, for example:
Travel times. You may want your delegates travel time to a destination to be limited to, for example 8 hours. This would immediately bring your maximum distance travel from the UK to the UAE, Canada, east coast USA, Europe etc. but will exclude Africa, Asia, west coast USA and Australian destinations.
Is it on an accessible route for all delegates? Your delegates may be travelling from different continents which might mean at least 2 flight changes. Consider if you want to impose these restrictions.
What’s the best time to travel and does it fit in with your trip dates? If you want to travel to South Africa and give your delegates a wonderful wild life experience, the best time to travel for safari is May to October. But, if Capetown is your destination of choice, the best time to travel is January, February, March.
How reliable is the destination infrastructure? Some destinations may have good air links, but how far do your delegates have to travel after they land? Consider whether you want to arrange a 2 hour transfer from the airport to the hotel along narrow, winding roads – or whether after a long flight it’s best to choose a destination that has faster routes to your chosen hotel.
Are the hotels of good standard? You want the best your money can buy for your delegates but we all know that star ratings are not necessarily the same in all countries.
How much will the flights take out of your budget? Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula for this calculation and costs will be affected by the popularity of the destination, how many carriers fly there, the season, if there are any international sporting fixtures around the time you want to travel and, of course, airport taxes. Sometimes, destinations that are trying to encourage tourism and business travel, will offer good rates.
Use your travel incentive agency’s knowledge. They will be able to answer these questions and be able to give you insight into what/where would fit your brief. They will know what destinations are up and coming, their infrastructure and if they are incentive-group friendly.
The safety of delegates is of paramount importance. Even if you have budget restrictions, do not be tempted to use suppliers just because they are cheaper. Ensure any vehicles used are up to standard, request safety certificates, check them out at site inspection. If you are organising activities, ensure these too reach all safety standards and have relevant documentation.
We strongly recommend using local DMCs for all transfers, activities etc. Good DMCs are invaluable for handling situations that cannot be predicted, they will have local knowledge for emergencies and, of course, speak the local language.
Undertake a Risk Assessment for the whole trip and make sure to include processes for emergency repatriation or evacuation.
Your travel incentive agency will help you do this so that you can present your insurance company with accurate information for travel cover. It’s a lengthy, but essential process.
After your initial enquiries with hotels, suppliers, airlines etc. you will be inundated with emails, proposals, suggestions and requests for updates or decisions. Furthermore, all the information presented to you will be in different formats, some very long, some very short and, definitely, inconsistent.
Your agency will be able to undertake effective communication:
With you, providing you with meaningful information in the same format so that you can make like-for-like comparisons in the initial stages. They will handle all enquiries with hotels, suppliers and airlines so that you have only one line of communication.
With suppliers, to ensure they provide the right information to pass to you
With delegates, to drip feed information to build anticipation and to gather all required documentation from them before travel.
Use your travel incentive agency as your aide to filter all communication so that you can concentrate on all other aspects of your job.
It is your ultimate responsibility, of course, to ensure that your trip is delivered within your budget. However, just as you have the knowledge and understanding of how your business operates, an incentive agency will have the knowledge, contacts, processes and resources to assist you with your trip
Take advantage of their knowledge and buying power to get the most out of your budget. They will have access to industry channels that you have not, and could shave £££s off your bottom line.
Finally, don’t shy away from using an incentive agency because of budget – not only can they save you money by:
Their negotiating power with hotels and suppliers
Providing quick access to industry information
Picking up time-intensive processes
their services can range from
Research, Find & Contract on a no-fee basis
Research, Find and Pre-event manage on a fixed fee basis
Research, Find and Full event management fee from conception to completion of an incentive program.
The success of a travel incentive program relies on a number of processes and actions to come together at the right time. A good travel incentive agency will help you pull your program together seamlessly.