Incentives here to stay, but design will change

MICE is still important tools for many companies, and it’ll still grow. But group sizes will be smaller, duration may be longer, and styles of travel will be different.

Motivation is extremely important in today’s challenging business landscape, and incentive trips remain one of the best ways to do this, opined industry leaders during the Customer Deep Dive: Incentive Travel and Events panel, part of the Convening Asia Pacific: The Global Recovery Forum held earlier this month.

However, with travel restrictions abound and most borders remain closed, executing incentive programmes becomes especially difficult.

Incentives are still an important tool for many companies, but group sizes will be smaller and styles of travel will be different.

This is why, designing an incentive trip with an “overseas feel” is crucial, stressed Bert Li, associate director of event production, Amway China.

Max Boontawee Jantasuwan, founding CEO of Bangkok-based Events Travel Asia Group, agreed: “We have to look at domestic destinations now, and try to enhance the experiences of the delegates to keep them motivated as we can’t travel overseas.”

For example, when Amway China’s winners had to give up their Japan cruise in 2021 for a programme in China, Li and his team moved the programme to the popular southern Chinese resort destination, Hainan. Other modifications include accommodating the top achievers together in one or two hotels at the most, and providing tours and activities instead of leaving participants to a free-and-easy arrangement.

Li said that moving the programme to a local destination like Hainan was a safe option in the current pandemic climate, adding that tour sizes must also be reduced to 500 or smaller, compared to upwards of 3,000 pax pre-pandemic.

To maintain a motivational aspect of the local programme, Amway China offered to upgrade some of the packages from a standard room to one on a higher floor or with more amenities.

Another way to provide an “overseas” experience domestically, is to get an international DMC or agency to help. For example, a gala dinner can be done with food trucks, to evoke a Melbournian vibe.

Li also intends to work more closely with larger DMCs with international experience during this period, as opposed to boutique planners. Such DMCs will be better placed to cope with sudden destination changes, and will have more permanent staff at their disposal, which helps to reduce transient staff costs.

Post-lockdown, Li’s destination choice will be determined by safety and security, infection rates, quarantine procedures and medical resources to cope with outbreaks.

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