Tahira Endean, Head Of Events, SITE Global exclusively speaks with Travel And Tour World at the 6th edition of ACE of M.I.C.E 2019, at the Istanbul Congress Centre, on several aspects of incentive travel.
Travel And Tour World – How has the show been so far?
Tahira Endean: It’s been great. It’s the first morning. It’s a beautiful show so it’s very active, there’s a lot going on. The show looks really good.
Travel And Tour World: What are your expectations and how is it different from the previous editions?
Tahira Endean: I haven’t been to previous editions. But I would say that compare to many other shows that I have been to… there is a lot of very high impact booths… they have done a great job in bringing together buyers and suppliers.
Travel And Tour World: What are the challenges a company might face while curating an incentive program?
Tahira Endean: It’s so many challenges. I think it starts with deciding why to have these incentive programs, what your objectives are, and then you start to curate that. From event’s perspective it is really about finding that destination that is going to be aspirational, it is something you really want to. And, then really balance all your programs so that it really makes sense so that you are achieving the sales and service objectives that you want; awarding people appropriately, using that to build royalty, and recruitment and retaining employees.
Travel And Tour World – Can cash be an effective incentive?
Tahira Endean: There is lot of research to show that cash is an ok incentive. Nobody is going to say no to it, but it is certainly not that memorable. Cash is not a feel good or I have done something amazing or I have had a new experience and I have shared something. It’s not just an opportunity to not just pay a bill but to go for shared experience with somebody who is important to you and spend time with your peers, colleagues, manager and CEO of the company in a way you can otherwise do. Incentive travel is so much greater than taking cash.
Travel And Tour World – What is your manifesto for the incentive travel industry?
Tahira Endean: So, this year what we have created is what we call The Bangkok Manifesto, because we have our global corporates in Bangkok. But what we realised is that this is our space to lead. To do that we need to look at the collective greatness that comes within the organisation. And we brought together a series of meetings that first looked to creating 25 potential statements that reflected what the travel could mean and how it could be executed to be successful, and how as an industry we need to be responsible. We over the course of 3 days with several iterations got down to over 300 people agreeing on the 10 statements in the manifesto. So, it covers everything from ethics, sustainability, CSR to how as an industry we can work together to create and deliver the programs that has an impact.
Travel And Tour World – What are the best practises a company must keep in mind for implementing a successful incentive program?
Tahira Endean: It is really going back to that why – why are we doing, what are the objectives, how are we going to achieve these objectives? What is the training, education, support that I need to give to my team and how do we create responsible feedback? Then we decide the whole program to make sure that we are creating personalised, wonderful experiences.
Travel And Tour World – Which are the most preferred destinations for incentive travel?
Tahira Endean: It is really interesting right now, because with incentive travel the world is our oysters. In classical destinations there are world centres which exist in every single continent. There are bigger cities and then we are seeing shift towards smaller destinations that provide authentic, local opportunities. It might be smaller country or city.
Travel And Tour World – What is the ROI on incentive programs?
Tahira Endean: It is incredibly high. We use them as tools as it is meant to be used to reward employees, to recognise them. It is really that intrinsic – I feel good where I work; you cannot get it any other way.
Travel And Tour World – What are the current trends in incentive travel?
Tahira Endean: Personalisation is the key – creating an opportunity to create your own adventure. It is looking at embracing what is local. We have so much access to information on travel from television or online shows… We need to meet those expectations.
Travel And Tour World – How do you see incentive travel developing in 2019 and what is new on the agenda?
Tahira Endean: We have already spoken about – sustainability, CSR. The things that the organisations are already doing need to be extended and embraced into our incentive programs. We are definitely seeing an uprise, which is fantastic. This means we are getting opportunities to work more meaningfully to create personalised opportunities and experiences for them. There is a little bit of a shift towards deeper authentic experience, so that they stay with the company and feel the loyalty.