Selling incentive travel business differs from other sorts of travel, however for corporate or leisure agents who are prepared to learn the ropes, it is a profitable niche, with potentially high returns.
“Historically it’s been the best spend per person of any sort of group travel,” said Bruce Tepper, v . p . of Joselyn, Tepper & Associates, a travel industry consulting and training firm.
“This can be another business which includes never been driven by commission. Agents, not the suppliers, set the margins. It’s lucrative.”
Incentives can also entice agents trying to find a new challenge. “It’s something new as well as other and enables you to learn interesting things and new methods of doing things,” Tepper said.
The first step after opting to pursue incentive organization is being prepared to dedicate staff on the effort, whether it’s existing staff who will be trained or new hires focused on incentives.
Once that decision is created, agents need to get training.
Now can be a good time to do that. SITE, the Society of Incentive Travel Executives, plans to launch a fresh Certified Incentive Specialist program at the end of the season. The two-day program will probably be designed for incentive travel newcomers and may not require membership in SITE nor any minimum experience.
Incentive travel sellers need to comprehend companies and their motivational goals, whether that’s inspiring staff to offer more or moving customers to buy more goods and services.
Once agents know the way incentives work, they must 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 have that as a good source of potential customers.
Incentive travel is a natural for incentive travel agents. “Use your own customer base to identify possible leads and after that learn about their employee rewards program,” said Tim Smith, president of GlobalPoint Travel Solutions, a $70 million agency in San Diego County, which does about 3% of their business in meetings and conventions.
“It’s much better to sell a treatment program for an individual or company with whom you own an existing relationship as opposed to chasing a vaporous potential client. Love the one you’re with and you’ll expand your influence,” Smith said.
Those that want to go after new customers won’t struggle to find prospects.
“An industry in everyone’s backyard which utilizes incentives very often is car dealers,” said Tepper. “Even a tiny 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 Los Angeles to begin,” Tepper said.
Working together with incentive groups requires both a whole new mindset and new pair of contacts.
“You’ll be working with an entirely different network of suppliers,” Tepper added. “Even with the airlines and hotel companies you’ll be working with each person.
“And, you’ve got to enter into this thinking forget commission. We do from net. What pricing we use will determine what we sell for.”
Agents seeking incentive business also have to choose their agency’s measure of involvement. They could designate a dedicated 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 simply cannot usually take across the incentive business of clients with existing programs but could look for businesses that have not had a reason program.
An alternate way to get involved with the company is always to team track of a gathering planner or meeting and incentive house. “It could be the perfect thing to do. There are thousands of one- or two-person meeting planning businesses that may wish to pair with a real estate agent.” said Tepper.
An alternative would be to partner with a company like Oyster Bay, N.Y.-based Acclaim Meetings, which works together with agents on negotiations, bookings, commission collection and technology. (Editor’s note: Owned by American Marketing Group, Acclaim Meetings is actually a sister company to Travel Market Report.)
Understanding the industry is crucial
In either case, the secret weapon to success is knowing incentive programs and just how they operate, based on Anne Marie Moebes, executive vice president of Acclaim Meetings.
“An agent first must understand why the company offers the incentive; what their set goals are and why the worker is motivated to win the incentive,” she said.
“If you understand what’s inside it for those parties, the agent will make an educated decision of what to supply as being the travel product,” she said.
“It must fulfill the budget and requirements of the sponsoring company but concurrently entice the winner/employee along with their spouse or guest when they are section of the program. Frequently the spouse could possibly be the driving influence.”
As with all areas of travel, developing relationships is very important not just for clients but also for vendors. “You must 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 have a longtime relationship with, because eventually it’s all about relationships,” Burk added. “The danger of handling corporate, leisure and meetings may be the domino effect. In the event you screw up one you’ll screw up these three.”
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 may go it independently.
Carol Horner came up with Virginia Beach, Va.-based Horner Incentive Group in the mid-1900s after many years as being an agent and agency owner. She and her husband still own a travel agency but were advised in early stages to produce a different name and identity for your 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 the same right away,” she said.
All-inclusives for incentives
As being a smaller agency with annual sales of $8 million, Horner finds it simpler to use all-inclusives in her own programs. She accustomed to create cruise incentives the good news is 49dexqpky programs featuring Mexican and Caribbean all-inclusives.
“You have more flexibility with land-based programs. You could do more team-building activities,” she said “A cruise is way too restricting for some people regarding the dining. The VIP feels obligated to get along with the employees every single night. And it’s considerably more lucrative to complete an all-inclusive than the usual cruise.”
Allow it to be unforgettable
The job of the incentive planner would be to create unforgettable experiences for participants.
“The single most important thing will be the wow factor – the wow factor when it comes to the venue, the entertainment, the graphic design along with the theme to thank their customers or top employees,” said Cadence Travel’s Burk.
“It could even be ordinary London or Paris, but it will probably be something they can’t buy off the shelf. Every aspect will likely be unique.”