Incentive travel is a market from which the Cayman Islands tourism fraternity can benefit, according to the Cayman Islands Tourism Association.
Jane van der Bol, executive director of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, attended the Site (Society of Incentive Travel Executives) Florida Summer Summit in Orlando on 9-10 July and heard a series of speakers discussing the sector, which includes companies rewarding their employees or customers with special trips and experiences for good service or hitting specific targets.
Douglas Kahler, Site Florida’s president, welcomed the delegates and opened the conference to speakers such as Peter Yesawich with MMGY Global, John Lonski, the chief economist with Moody’s Capital Market Research Group, a technology session by Murray Izenwasser and a Site Global update by Site Global’s President, Alejandro Verzoub. Rounding out the conference was a panel discussion with the top six incentive travel companies – Aimia (formally Carlson Marketing), USMotivation, Creative Group, First Incentive Travel, Sunquest and BCD.
Ms. van der Bol said that Peter Yesawich of MMGY Global shared his research on traveller trends from households in the United States.
“The positive news was that 64 per cent of adults are planning to travel between May and October 2012, up from 61 per cent last year. Travel to the Caribbean as a destination choice was at 54 per cent due to accessibility of air to the Caribbean, just a few points behind Europe at 57 per cent,” she said.
“The attitude of buyers is changing and 31 per cent of them are buying with direct offers and coupons. When online shopping, 84 per cent are checking for the lowest fares and rates. He also noted an interesting fact that cruising is going to drastically increase in the future,” she said.
John Lonski, chief economist with Moody’s Capital Market Research Group, gave delegates a picture of global cooling showing the world economy slowing down. He also showed trends in demography, technology and property rights – legal and regulatory framework, she said.
“The panellists confirmed that business is up, that incentive travel is getting stronger. The short term business is strong requesting requests for proposals between six to 10 months out. Pricing is becoming more transparent due to the sophisticated traveller with online access to rates and availability.
“Most incentive programmes are adding a corporate social responsibility component to their trips. Again, airlift was discussed and is a critical factor in destination selection. With incentive programmes getting shorter, now leaning more to three to four days long, the importance of direct flights is of value to the overall program costs. Destination selection is still important and companies are looking for the ‘wow’ factor in each destination,” Ms van der Bol said.
Also in attendance were Jo-Anne Brown from Celebrations Ltd, David Krech with the Westin Casuarina Resort & Spa and Tom Luddington from the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism’s New York office.
Among all the incentive travel talk, travel statistics and social media updates, visitors attending from the Cayman Islands participated in a trade show on the first day and had the opportunity to talk to attendees including incentive planners. On day two, the Cayman Islands hosted a luncheon and showcased the Cayman Islands as an incentive destination. The attendees were able to view a video showing the Cayman Islands as an incentive destination with quality products and services, Ms. van der Bol said.
Joost De Meyer with First Incentive Travel noted he has several programmes he is bidding on and plans on presenting the Cayman Islands as a destination option, she said.