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Selling incentive travel business differs from other kinds 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 greatest 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 can be another business which has never been driven by commission. Agents, not the suppliers, set the margins. It’s lucrative.”
Incentives may also interest agents trying to find a new challenge. “It’s a new challenge as well as other and makes you learn something totally new and new methods for doing things,” Tepper said.
The initial step after opting to pursue incentive business is being ready to dedicate staff for the effort, whether it’s existing staff who can be trained or new hires devoted to incentives.
Once that decision is made, agents need to get training.
Now may be a good time to achieve that. SITE, the Society of Incentive Travel Executives, plans to launch a whole new Certified Incentive Specialist program by the end of the season. Both-day program will likely be created for incentive travel newcomers and may 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 offer more or moving customers to get more products.
Once agents know the way incentives work, they should start seeking incentive business from existing clients. A primarily leisure agency might mine its customer base for executives or company owners. Agents that are country club members can also employ that as an excellent source of prospects.
Incentive travel can be a natural for incentive travel agency. “Use your own personal client base to distinguish possible leads and then learn about their employee rewards program,” said Tim Smith, president of GlobalPoint Travel Solutions, a $70 million agency in The San Diego Area, which does about 3% of their business in meetings and conventions.
“It’s quicker to sell a treatment program with an individual or company with whom you have an existing relationship rather than chasing a vaporous potential customer. Love usually the one you’re with and you’ll expand your influence,” Smith said.
Identifying prospective customers
Those who would like to go after new customers won’t battle to find prospects.
“An industry in everyone’s backyard that uses incentives frequently 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 The Big Apple, Chicago or L . A . to begin,” Tepper said.
Dealing with incentive groups requires both a fresh mindset and new list of contacts.
“You’ll be dealing with a completely different network of suppliers,” Tepper added. “Even with all the airlines and hotel companies you’ll be handling different people.
“And, you’ve got to come into this thinking forget commission. We all do from net. What pricing we use determines what we sell for.”
Agents seeking incentive business also need to choose their agency’s level of involvement. They can designate a passionate team to designing, managing and implementing incentive programs or seek the aid of meeting and incentive planners.
Operating the incentive business directly is, obviously, more lucrative. It also means agents are unable to only take over the incentive business of clients with existing programs but will seek out firms that have not had a motivation program.
An additional way to get involved in the company is to team with a meeting planner or meeting and incentive house. “It could be the perfect move to make. There are thousands of one- or two-person meeting planning businesses that might choose to pair on top of a real estate agent.” said Tepper.
An alternative choice 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 either case, the way to succeed is knowing incentive programs and just how they operate, based on Anne Marie Moebes, executive v . p . of Acclaim Meetings.
“An agent first needs to understand why the company is providing 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 for all those parties, the agent can make a knowledgeable decision about what to offer because the travel product,” she said.
“It must match the budget and requirements of your sponsoring company but at the same time entice the winner/employee and their spouse or guest when they are part of the program. Frequently the spouse could possibly be the driving influence.”
As with all areas of travel, developing relationships is essential not just for clients however for vendors. “You should work very closely with vendors. Use preferred vendors therefore you know they may go all out,” said Wendy Burk, CEO of La Jolla, Calif.-based Cadence Travel.
“Use those you will have a longtime relationship with, because in the end it’s about relationships,” Burk added. “The danger of handling corporate, leisure and meetings is definitely 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 might be prone to handle incentive programs without outside help, even smaller agencies could go it by themselves.
Carol Horner come up with Virginia Beach, Va.-based Horner Incentive Group in 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 early on to produce a different name and identity to the incentive business.
“That’s what we should did and thank goodness, because we changed our agency’s name three times. With my incentive business the name stayed the same from the beginning,” 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 her own 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 people with regards to the dining. The VIP feels obligated to get along with the staff every evening. And it’s far more lucrative to perform an all-inclusive than a cruise.”
Allow it to be unforgettable
The work of your incentive planner is usually to create unforgettable experiences for participants.
“The most crucial thing is the wow factor – the wow factor in relation to the venue, the entertainment, the graphic design along with 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 likely be something they can’t buy out of the box. Every aspect will be unique.”