It was time to acquire a much wider gamut of offerings for service providers to truly understand the dynamic needs of a modern day incentive traveller, said Paul Miller, MD, Spectra – UK. In his keynote address in the conclave on Incentive Travel + MICE, he asked the industry to look at creating unique memories for their clientele, instead of just sending them back home with a mundane shopping experience. Excerpts of his address.
It was incumbent upon operators in the incentive travel business to constantly expand their bouquet of offerings to better decipher the ever changing needs of a modern day client, reasoned Paul Miller. He argued that “everything was trending and one needed to throw in a lot of options to really understand what the customer wanted.” Substantiating his argument, he said “the idea of a flexible agenda is in vogue. Everyone wants to do their own thing. There are a plethora of choices ranging from innovative F&B, wellness and spa.”
Decoding the psyche of a modern day traveller, he said that add-ons like rewards and loyalty programs created the much needed motivation for travelling among the clientele. “Today’s traveller ponders over what he is going to get in return. So, these value add-ons play a crucial role,” Paul Miller said.
Commenting on the Indian incentive market, he said “We know that India is coming, so we have to be prepared. Somewhere over the rainbow bridge, there is huge potential here.” He was, however, quick to add that given India’s fast transforming landscape, a large number of global travellers were coming to the Indian shores, too, and “India also needed to be prepared to host far more incentive travellers than ever before.”
Giving an insight into the US incentive market, he termed it a highly mature market. “The Incentive travel pie is very mature in the United States and we all know that. 77 billion dollars is a huge number,” he informed. Further adding that almost 74 percent of US businesses were using non-cash rewards, he said “the business is very strong. Automotive, medical and direct selling, and it is growing at a very fast pace.”
Sharing his perspective of the global economic outlook, he reminisced about 2009, when at the wake of the economic downturn, points were slashed and people started refraining from spending money. “We saw better than expected recovery in 2013. And over 80 percent of our respondents are planning for growth, now in 2016,” he added, indicating a larger uptick in the global incentive travel and tourism industry. In hindsight, he believed that the idea of refraining from spending was not prudent. “What we learnt from the economic recession that one did not need to cut spending in that area, rather needed to put money into it, to get their staff to improve their performance,” he said.
He said that countries like Budapest, China, India and Vietnam were “latest entrant in the list of emerging destinations for incentive travel.” Listing out some of the more unique travel experiences that service providers could peruse, he commented that one-off experiences like dinning in the Vatican in Rome, gazing stars at the pyramids of Egypt or recording a song in the same room where the Beatles recorded their legendary albums were “experiences that no amount of money could buy.”
“As service providers, these are the experiences and memories that you would create for your clientele. It is so much better for them than going back with merchandise,” he asserted.