I hate when that happens! Last week, I listened to a podcast and they were trying to figure out if business travel would ever return to its heyday. I went to look for a link and came up blank. But I am forging ahead with some thoughts on replacing some lost corporate travel with meetings and incentives.
Today, we delve into just some benefits that can be reaped in this potentially very lucrative niche!
Complexity and Simplicity
Meetings and Incentives (M&I) will involve the most complex planning in the industry. Imagine a sewing needle eye. Now imagine 300 spools of thread needing to thread that needle simultaneously. Yes, it is that complex. If you have “winged it” before, M&I travel is not for you. However, aspects can be straightforward. You have one destination. Typically, one hotel. Singular events for everyone. So, once the complex details are set, the rest falls together. Keep in mind that this is not a quick process. Most meeting and incentive trips are booked a year or more in advance and only finalized in the final months.
Increased Revenue Potential
By diversifying their services to include meetings and incentive travel, travel agents tap into larger budgets than the leisure traveler. Additionally, the scale of meetings and incentive travel often includes meals, sightseeing, cocktail parties, group transportation, entertainment, and organizing team-building activities. These added services can be very lucrative, and most companies will want to deal with one point of contact and will rely on your expertise and connections to make it happen. You will be surprised at how many opportunities surface for commissions and fees!
If you can pull off a successful convention, annual meeting, or incentive trip, there is a good chance you have some clients for life. As mentioned, the corporate budgets are higher than the leisure traveler, and as a result, most meetings and incentives are very memorable occasions. Attendees will understand this and likely, if asked, return to you for that next personal trip. The key word is “asked.” Because all attendees are likely going through you to book, ensure you are capturing their information, and once it is done—ask them for their future business.
The meetings and incentive travel market is highly specialized, requiring specific knowledge and connections. By offering these services, travel agents gain a competitive advantage over the leisure travel competition. As I said, this is not for the faint of heart, and it is challenging; but this is an ideal way to position yourself as the go-to professional for all things travel.
Wade into this pool. It is not terribly crowded. Start small and build your reputation. Look to your local community—auto dealers or any company that works on a commission is ideal. Pitch a long weekend in Jamaica for the top six salespeople and a guest. And then grow from there. In today’s employment market, appreciation and value are paramount, and the thought of a company-paid “vacation” is certainly alluring.
Embrace meetings and incentive travel. Tip-toe into the pool and see if it is for you! I bet you won’t regret it!