Selling incentive travel business differs from other sorts of travel, but also for corporate or leisure agents who are likely to discover the ropes, this really is a profitable niche, with potentially high returns.
“Historically it’s been the greatest spend per person of any type of 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 may also entice agents seeking a new challenge. “It’s a new challenge and different and making you learn something totally new and new methods for doing things,” Tepper said.
Step one after deciding to pursue incentive business is being happy to dedicate staff to the effort, whether it’s existing staff which will be trained or new hires committed to incentives.
Once that decision is created, agents need to get training.
Now may be a good time to do that. SITE, the Society of Incentive Travel Executives, offers to launch a whole new Certified Incentive Specialist program by the end of the season. 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 promote more or moving customers to get more services and products.
Once agents know how incentives work, they need 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 can likewise use that as a good source of prospects.
Incentive travel can be a natural for incentive travel agents. “Use your personal customer base to identify possible leads and 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 treatment program to a individual or company with whom you own an existing relationship in contrast to chasing a vaporous possible client. Love the main one you’re with and you’ll expand your influence,” Smith said.
Identifying prospective customers
Those who would like to go after new clients won’t battle to find prospects.
“An industry in everyone’s backyard that utilizes incentives in many cases is car dealers,” said Tepper. “Even a little dealer has 20 or 30 salespeople.
“Look for distributors of anything, like Coca Cola and Pepsi bottlers. You don’t must be in New York City, Chicago or La to get started on,” Tepper said.
Working with incentive groups requires both a fresh mindset and new pair 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 coping with differing people.
“And, you’ve have got to enter into this thinking forget commission. Perform everything from net. What pricing we use determines what we sell for.”
Agents seeking incentive business must also make a decision on their agency’s level of involvement. They are able to designate a dedicated team to designing, managing and implementing incentive programs or seek assistance from meeting and incentive planners.
Operating the incentive business directly is, naturally, more lucrative. In addition, it means agents cannot usually take over the incentive business of clients with existing programs but may find firms that have not had a reason program.
A different way to get involved in the organization would be to team with a gathering planner or meeting and incentive house. “It might be the perfect course of action. There are thousands of one- or two-person meeting planning businesses that may want to pair track of an agent.” said Tepper.
Another option is to partner by using a company like Oyster Bay, N.Y.-based Acclaim Meetings, which works together agents on negotiations, bookings, commission collection and technology. (Editor’s note: Owned by American Marketing Group, Acclaim Meetings is actually a sister company traveling Market Report.)
Comprehending the organization is crucial
In either case, the key to success is understanding incentive programs and exactly how they operate, in accordance with Anne Marie Moebes, executive vice president of Acclaim Meetings.
“An agent first needs to understand why the organization offers the incentive; what their goals are and why the staff member is motivated to win the incentive,” she said.
“If you recognize what’s within it for all parties, the agent could make a well informed decision on what to offer you since the travel product,” she said.
“It must fulfill the budget and requirements from the sponsoring company but as well entice the winner/employee in addition to their spouse or guest when they are portion of the program. Often the spouse could possibly be the driving influence.”
As with every area of travel, developing relationships is crucial not merely for clients but for vendors. “You have to work very closely with vendors. Use preferred vendors so that you know they will likely go all out,” said Wendy Burk, CEO of La Jolla, Calif.-based Cadence Travel.
“Use those there is a longtime relationship with, because eventually it’s information on relationships,” Burk added. “The danger of handling corporate, leisure and meetings is definitely the domino effect. If you screw up one you’ll screw up all 3.”
Advice for smaller agencies
Although larger agencies with dedicated incentive travel staff may be very likely to handle incentive programs without outside help, even smaller agencies will go it by themselves.
Carol Horner come up with Virginia Beach, Va.-based Horner Incentive Group from the mid-1900s after several years as an agent and agency owner. She and her husband still own a travel agency but were advised in the beginning to make a different name and identity to 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 accustomed to create cruise incentives however right now 49dexqpky programs featuring Mexican and Caribbean all-inclusives.
“You have more flexibility with land-based programs. You can do more team-building activities,” she said “A cruise is too restricting for many people regarding the dining. The VIP feels obligated to be with employees every night. And it’s a lot more lucrative to accomplish an all-inclusive when compared to a cruise.”
Help it become unforgettable
The job of any incentive planner would be to create unforgettable experiences for participants.
“The single most important thing may be the wow factor – the wow factor in terms of the venue, the entertainment, the graphic design as well as the theme to thank their clients or top employees,” said Cadence Travel’s Burk.
“It could even be ordinary London or Paris, but it will likely be something they can’t buy out of the box. Every aspect will probably be unique.”