When the Worlds of Travel Incentives and Bespoke Luxury Travel Collide

When the Worlds of Travel Incentives and Bespoke Luxury Travel Collide

We recently came across an article entitled ‘Can Leisure Advisors Crack the Incentive Travel Market?’, which suggested that with a little help from some outsourcing services and technology, it could be pretty easy for leisure travel agencies to make a move on the incentive market.

The piece quoted an industry consultant with links to the Society of Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) as saying “There’s no reason at all why a leisure travel agent, even a one-person shop, can’t do incentives — you just have to appreciate the different purpose.”

As an expert in incentive travel, with many years’ experience in the field both as Purple Dog Solutions and previously at large incentive agencies, we were a little surprised to read this. Sure, the piece points out some of the differences between incentives and luxury leisure travel – that it’s not just about the trip, that incentives require a communications campaign, and that there needs to be a way to measure the success of the programme.

But we can’t help but feel this is oversimplifying things. Incentives have changed dramatically since the golden days before the financial crash. Yes, the ultimate objective is still to reward top employees, clients or partners with an amazing travel experience, which means there is some natural crossover with luxury leisure travel, especially as the trend for more exclusive, personalised and authentic experiences becomes increasingly prominent in both sectors. But there is so much more to incentive travel.

Incentive agencies these days need to be experts in marketing and communications – and it’s not just a case of sending a few emails announcing the destination and running a leader board. Incentives are about changing behaviours and making people feel special and rewarded, so potential winners need to be engaged throughout the qualification period through creative and clever communications – which is certainly not something we’d advocate outsourcing.

When you are working with corporate clients, there is so much to consider from dealing with procurement to compliance, not to mention the dreaded B-word…B being budget of course! Budgets are always tight when it comes to incentives, and clients are often demanding more for the same or less, which means having to be incredibly creative to deliver “money can’t buy experiences”.

However, the article did get us thinking about the feasibility of incentive and events experts moving into the luxury leisure travel field, and it provides us with the perfect opportunity (warning, shameless plug incoming here), to announce the launch of our brand-new luxury concierge service.

In addition to our corporate events and incentive service, we now offer bespoke, personalised travel experiences to discerning clients desiring an alternative to an off the shelf product.  We feel this is a natural fit, being ATOL bonded and experienced in providing ‘money can’t buy’ luxury experiences and ‘wow’ moments for incentive travel corporate clients makes us more than qualified to create luxury programmes for individual travellers, families and private groups.

While we understand that luxury leisure clients are just as concerned about value for money, the fact that we’re used to working to very tight budgets in the corporate world makes us wonder what we could deliver if those purse strings were a little looser. We’re excited to find out…