Smooth operations

For a destination with limited tourism infrastructure, Mactan, Cebu, successfully tuned up its handling and operations to ensure this mega incentive trip went off without a hitch

Event brief
South Korean direct-selling company, Unicity, rewarded its top 1,400 agents, sellers and distributors of health products, foods, cosmetics and household items with an incentive trip to Mactan, Cebu, in April 2023.

Chosen for its wide range of marine activities, and proximity to Korea, Cebu was around a five-hour flight away, where the direct flight is served by Korean Air.

Event organiser, Korea-based Tidesquare, had to ensure that Unicity’s top sellers, a majority of whom were women in their 40s to 70s, were well taken care of and accorded the VIP treatment to encourage rookie sellers to follow in their footsteps.

Event highlights
In total, there were 1,400 participants, which arrived in four staggered batches. Starting with 500 pax from April 9-14, followed by 300 pax from April 13-18; another 300 pax from 17-22; and the last 300 pax from April 21-26. Each batch spent six days in Mactan.

Due to its sheer numbers, the incentive group merited a meet-and-greet from the Philippines’ tourism secretary Christina Garcia Frasco for the second batch. This personal touch and warm welcome from Frasco herself was memorable for the participants, according to feedback from Tidesquare.

Everyone was accorded the VIP lane for Immigration and Customs at Cebu Mactan International Airport, where they were also met with a welcome reception that included serenaders, Sinulog dancers, leis and souvenirs.

The sheer size of the incentive group was a challenge to begin with, hence the 1,400 participants were broken into smaller groups.

At the airport, Tidesquare and the airport staff also did several dry runs to ensure a smooth operation for their inbound guests.

As South Koreans generally prefer hocance (the portmanteau of hotel and vacance), which meant that their vacation would be spent largely in a resort or hotel, most of them were put up at Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu, one of the few resorts in the island with keys exceeding 500.

“Shangri-La Mactan had a total of 530 rooms and the Unicity incentive group occupied all its premises all through April. But it was hard to get an extra room when needed,” the Philippines’ Department of Tourism business/market development manager for Korea, Natasha Lee, said.

Moreover, most of the meals were in the hotel as it was difficult to eat out with such a huge group.

It was also challenging to transport the group, as the roads in some parts of Cebu were too narrow for the 16 45-seater buses needed for tours. In certain instances, ground transportation was avoided. For example, the island-hopping tour started from Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu’s pier instead.

The Philippines’ entry protocol was another challenge. At that time, all inbound visitors were required to register individually on the e-travel platform and show proof of the e-travel registration upon check-in/boarding and upon arrival in the Philippines. Moreover, travellers could only register within 72 hours prior to their arrival.

Although it is an individual’s responsibility to register, Tidesquare did it on behalf of their clients, especially where many of the travellers were not tech-savvy.

Event Unicity Incentive Trip
Organiser Tidesquare
Venue Mactan in Cebu, Philippines
Dates Four batches of arrivals in April 2023
Attendance 1,400 pax

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