I am not referring to the fuzzy little critters, or the mouse that runs an amusement conglomerate. MICE is an acronym for meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions; and, it can be a very lucrative piece of your business. If you do not already pursue meeting or incentive travel, you should seriously consider it. Cruise ships are a great venue for meetings as well as for incentive travel.
Travel is a great motivator. If you have been in this industry long enough, at some point in your career you probably have attended a supplier webinar, or seminar, about meeting and incentive travel. If not, you can reach out to any of our cruise line partners. Most of them have dedicated departments that solely focus on this segment of the business.
As a travel advisor, how do you break into the MICE business? Look at businesses in your local area. I would not recommend approaching the large corporations (like JPMorgan, Ford Motor Company, etc.). Honestly, they probably have a well-established incentive program in place already, as well as dedicated meeting planners for their sales meetings. Instead, focus on your businesses like car dealerships, real estate offices, insurance companies, restaurants, etc. Look for businesses with a sales team. These businesses hold sales meetings and may not have a formal incentive program in place already. They would be perfect for suggesting that they set up such a program.
I am currently working with some local real estate agents putting together incentives that sellers can offer to buyers. It’s a pretty straight forward incentive. The seller agrees to pay for an incentive, if the buyer meets any conditions that the seller sets. For example, any full price offer that closes by Oct 31 and the buyer gets a 3-4 Bahamas night cruise certificate at closing. The cost to the buyer will depend on the level of certificate purchased. The prices range from $630 for cruise fare only in an interior stateroom, up to $1,874 for cruise fare, taxes/fees and prepaid gratuities in a balcony. All certificates are for two people based on double occupancy.
The most attractive part of this for the real estate agents is that no one has to spend any money if the incentive conditions are not met. The seller doesn’t have to purchase the certificate until right before closing. So, if they don’t get a full price offer, or closing occurs after Oct 31, then the seller doesn’t buy the certificate at all.
Some real estate agents are also considering an offer to buyer’s agents. Simply, it would be the seller’s agent paying for the certificate, and giving it to the buyer’s agent that meets certain conditions (full price offer, closing by a certain date, no conditions on sales, etc.). The agents find this to be a great marketing tool that only costs them money when it works.
In addition to offering incentive travel, don’t leave the meeting travel on the table. These great estate agents, that I’m working with, have annual sales conferences that they attend all over North America. Right now, an office employee is tasked with trying to muddle through the logistics of booking meeting space, hotel rooms, etc. The presentation to the managing broker is straight forward. Take the stress off of their office employee and let a travel advisor handle all of the logistics. And pitching a cruise ship as a meeting destination is something they never thought of as a possibility!
So, what are you going to do to build a better MICE trap?
Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations, she focuses on travel for 18 to 23-year-olds. Susan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (888) 221-1209.