There are a few different approaches when trying to set your flight budget for next years trip or even a trip 24 months away. There will always be some risk when it comes to flight cost but there are options to help mitigate the risk. Flight costs are constantly changing and in the last few years they have trended downwards due to competition but airlines are now fighting back by introducing basic economy fares at essentially no lower fares. This will increase ancillary revenue to the airlines in the short term. Plus some experts in the industry are predicting airline prices are expected to rise in the near future. Here is a great article from Meetings & Conventions on the 2018-2019 forecast: Meetings Industry Forecast 2018.
In 2017, you would assume the answer to this question is yes. And for the most part that is right. Technology in the meetings and events industry has transformed over the last 3-5 years with smartphone apps, websites and on site displays. However, despite providing attendees all of this technology, from event websites, to on site agenda apps and even agenda screens displaying through the property, there is still feedback that certain guests miss the hard copy agendas. With that said the days of printing one agenda on hard stock for every attendee is over, we recommend printing 20% of the attendee number and if you run out you can always print on site.
Five Large Meetings Hotels with over 14,000+ Square Feet of Meeting Space. These properties are also a great fit for Incentive Trips that need over 60 sleeping rooms as they have appropriate space for group breakfasts and event backup space.
1. Four Seasons Ritz - 282 Sleeping Rooms, 45,000 Sq Feet Meeting Space
2. Tivoli Lisboa - 306 Sleeping Rooms, 17,000 Sq Feet Meeting Space
3. Epic Sana - 311 Sleeping Rooms, 30,000 Sq Feet Meeting Space
4. Intercontinental Lisboa - 331 Sleeping Rooms, 14,000 Square Feet Meeting Space
5. Ritz-Carlton Penha Longa - 194 Sleeping Rooms, 30,000 Sq Feet Meeting Space
On Site Gifting Experiences
An important part of the incentive industry is the on site gifting experience. This experience continues to evolve and companies are providing more creative on site ideas. The most common experience has become the sunglasses fitting from companies such as Maui Jim, Ray Ban, Revo, and more. Another growing segment is watch gifting from high end options such as Tag and Movado to middle tier trendy companies such as MvMt to local island specialties such as the Island Watch Company. The key to on site gifting experiences is trying to match the gift with the location.
Los Cabos and Cabo San Lucas has been recovering from the 2014 Hurricane for the last few seasons and hotels are finally reopened and travelers are returning! It is currently one of our top 10 Hotel Destinations for Incentive Travel in 2018 and the all-inclusive properties can be a great fit for most MICE travel. As we mentioned in our April blog growth is the story for Cabo currently so it will be very interesting to see what it will look like in 2020 once the hotel surge is completed. The Hard Rock Los Cabos will compete in the incentive space with approx 600 rooms and 26,000 square feet of meeting space expected. And don't forget for those looking for 5 star non-all inclusive options, the Ritz Reserve, the Four Seasons, Nobu, and Montage are all opening in Cabo sooner rather than later!
Overall St. Thomas and the USVI's overall have struggled in the MICE space. The reason behind this is the high number of timeshares compared to hotel rooms. In 2017 they ran some great incentives to drive tourism to USVI's but most of this focus was on leisure travel instead of incentive travel.
Here is a quick review of the main hotel players in the MICE market in St. Thomas.
We have wrote about this a few times in the past but it's a popular and important question.
There are three main decisions to help narrow down your initial planning.
First, how many people are you expecting to attend?
Second, what is your per person budget or what is the overall trip budget?
Third, based on the budget, where do you think you want to go and what month of the year?
Due to the Zika concerns throughout the Caribbean and South Florida plus the uncertainty in Europe, the market has seen a rise in Incentive Groups in destination with ski mountains. Many companies are deciding to stay domestic for 2017 and/or 2018 and a ski trip is a great option for companies looking for a unique experience.
These destinations have endless options for activities from the obvious skiing and snowboarding but also tubing, snowshoe, cross country skiing, snowmobiling and even dogsledding in some locations. Most of the properties below also have world-class spas and fitness facilities. The pools are heated and open year-round, the hot tubs being especially popular.
They do a great job providing those guests who aren't hitting the slopes an opportunity to still enjoy the destination with aspres ski parties, wine or whiskey tastings, Gondola rides, and cooking lessons.
Top Players In The Market
Anguilla continues to blow guests away each and every visit. The sand is pure white, the water crystal blue, food is mouth-watering and culture is friendly and laid back. The one challenge for Anguilla is the limited airlift directly into the small Anguilla airport. Most guests arrive to St. Maarten, take a 3 minute bus shuttle to the private boat dock or 10 minute walk, take a 20-25 minutes speed boat (both private or small group) over to the Anguilla boat dock, exit through Anguilla Immigration and Customs, then take a quick taxi to their hotel. The experience can take as little as 45 minutes but it's still alot of movement for only 3-4 nights. Airlift is starting to improve in season through San Juan transfers. The minute you touch land in Anguilla you will immediately realize the journey is worth it. The resurgence of major brands in 2016/2017 will lead to a continued growth of leisure and MICE Travel. The three brands, Four Seasons, Belmond, and Auberge bring a 5 star level of service to match the five star properties.
Here are a list of some of the best fit Incentive & MICE properties. For a true meeting, Anguilla is not the right fit location due to the lack of meeting space. There isn't one true traditional meeting room/AV setup on island. For incentives, its a great fit with golf, horseback riding, catamaran trips and even swim with the dolphins in the ocean.
- Dubai - "Low Investment $$" Dubai continues to be a new, hot player in the incentive market. The Dubai Tourist Board has invested in increasing Incentive Travel over the last 4 years with continued focus going forward. Over 71,000 new hotel rooms are expected to be built by 2020. There are many direct flight options from major cities all over the world so great solution for worldwide companies. The activities options are vast and unique from spending the night glamping in the desert to skiing indoors to sand boarding and even extensive camel tours. Obviously the travel time and cost of F&B are two of the drawbacks. CIT touches upon the increase of travel in mid-range locations in January's report on Incentive Travel Report: Top destination trends for 2017.