“The recession has made things tough for us and other providers of incentive travel,” says Victor Tardieu of Full Circle Motivation. “However, the ITB World Travel Trends Report suggested the outlook for outbound travel has become much more positive recently” and Tardieu has found that many businesses are resuming rewarding hardworking employees with mouth-watering destinations, despite earlier fears that they may look profligate in the age of austerity.
For intra-European travel, Germany and the Netherlands are growth source markets, whilst Russia is and will continue to be a boom market for other European destinations. Despite the financial crisis in Europe, the continuing strength of some European markets, the USA and strong growth from Japan and other emerging markets e.g. China and Brazil, there is reason for optimism.
Incentives need not be lavish but should be current and aspirational. That’s why agencies like Full Circle Motivation keep an eye on what’s popular. In the UK, outbound travel is expected to show an increase of +5%, with the following destinations Spain, France, Egypt, Dubai, Thailand, Australia and Florida proving to be most popular. The key short break destinations are set to be New York, Paris, Venice and Florence.
Several unexpected destinations are now featuring in proposals. For example Anne Pederson, at the Switzerland Convention and Incentive Bureau in London, concedes that the recession has made things tough for the providers of incentive travel destinations. But if Switzerland is anything to go by, business is now returning.
In her opinion, companies have had the money for incentives but were also wary of public displays of having a good time during dark days.” But now, she says, the tide is turning: companies want to thank outstanding staff in a meaningful way. And according to Pedersen, incentive travel tops the poll for meaningful rewards. She said: “Incentive trips are much higher profile than cash bonuses. They mean so much more to the award winners and their families and colleagues.”
And as it happens, Switzerland, contrary to initial impressions, is an especially affordable destination option. The reputation for cost has been falsely inflated by high-season skiing incentives in the most famous resorts, which are undoubtedly expensive. But group travel organisers may be pleasantly surprised, she claims, if they take a closer look.
A closer look, according to Tardieu, should also be taken at Germany which is No 3 in the world’s top 10 destinations for international inbound travel, and the largest outbound market in Europe. The reason is simple: Germany has beautiful scenery that can vary from mountains to meadows, tranquil lakes to traditional villages and chocolate box castles.
The benefit to Full Circle’s incentive clients is that they can look forward to a country of contrasts and a programme to match.