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Why hire an Incentive Travel Company instead of a Travel Agency?

Short answer:  Travel agencies excel with individual vacationers and groups of less than 10.

Hiring an incentive travel company, like Brightspot, allows you to accommodate incentive groups rewarding 10 or more.

What’s the Difference?

Travel agencies focus on individual leisure and transient business travelers.  One reservation at a time is their mode.  They have a transactional focus — reserving airline, hotel, rental car, train, vacation packages, and even vacation home rentals – as fast as they can to move to the next transaction (at Brightspot we think “clients” – not transactions).

An incentive travel company’s functional capabilities are similar, but their mission is quite different.  For every incentive trip (or president club trip, a circle of excellence, or platinum club), a meeting planner creates an “incentive quality” group travel program for a corporate incentive group. These are top performers; we challenge ourselves to create a VIP travel experience that a leisure traveler could not create for themselves.  An incentive travel group of 50 participants is much different than booking 50 individual travel transactions.

hiring an incentive travel company brings new ideas with this lantern liftoff

Lantern liftoff as a departure event. Just one bright idea that makes an incentive trip unforgettable.

An incentive travel company:

1. Possesses a global knowledge of destinations suitable for incentive travel programs.
2. Maintains global partnerships with DMCs (destination management companies) for local assistance, advice, and services.
3. Assists corporate clients (not individual travelers) with site selection and hotel contract negotiations to secure the best value for groups of 10 or more. (Did you know hotels define groups as 10 or more?  So, this is not an arbitrary Brightspot size definition.)
4. Accompanies clients on a site inspection visit of the destination well in advance of the incentive trip to determine the feasibility of the site selected and to approve of all program inclusions.
5. Designs the entire incentive trip (air, hotel, ground transportation arrangements; tours and excursions; group activities; private events at unique venues; entertainment; room gifts; etc.) from
6. Graphically designs a creative theme to promote the incentive travel program.
7. Creates and implements a promotional marketing campaign for the qualification period (to drive ROI by increasing sales).
8. Develops a custom event website with club trip details.
9. Offers online registration for trip attendees.
10. Has extra expertise in:

• Meeting planning
• Hotel, airline and vendor negotiations for groups
• Securing headline entertainment
• Planning, negotiating, and generating cost savings for food and beverage functions
• Arranging for any audio-visual needs
• Planning team-building events
• Recommending and hiring guest speakers
• Contingency planning

Incentive Travel Step by Step

The “design” of an incentive trip means more than graphic design; it is the step-by-step business disciple to consider: business goals, audience demographics, appealing destinations, qualification rules, motivational communications, and efficient logistics.  Here are 2 excellent step-by-step guides:

Guide:  Incentive Travel Agency – Help, Guides, Tips, & Ideas for Incentive Trips

Ebook:  How to Start an Incentive Travel Program

Please call us at Brightspot if you’re looking to hire an incentive travel company with fresh ideas for your next program.

Source: Special thanks to our colleague, Dianne Der Bogosian, who authored most of this content.

Mike May

Author Mike May

Mike is a wearer of many hats. President of Brightspot, author of 12.5 Steps to a Perfect Incentive Program, past Chairman of the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), and recognized as one of the Top 25 Most Influential People in the Incentive Industry. His expertise includes bucket-list incentive trips, motivational incentive program design, matching event goals with the perfect destination & hotel, cost savings strategies, global channel reward programs, and targeted communications. Mike maintains his certifications in many specialties including Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), Certified Incentive Travel Professional (CITP), and Incentive Professional (IP).

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