Executive Group Travel Blog

Incentive Travel: Internal Planning or Outside Support?

[fa icon="clock-o"] Nov 18, 2020 10:00:00 AM [fa icon="user"] Marci McCormack [fa icon="folder-open'] Incentive Travel

Planning Your Event

After a trying year in 2020, most sales teams are in need of a major boost, something exciting to look forward to.

So... the decision was made to host an incentive trip in the next year or two, and you've been appointed ownership of the big event. Even if you're just starting to brainstorm trip ideas, there are three options when choosing what direction to take the planning: internal planning, a boutique travel agency partnership, or a large corporate agency. Below, we outline some of the benefits of each.


Photo by Marek Levak

The Options

  • Internal Planning. You decide to manage every aspect of the trip in-house, including destination selection, hotel contract negotiations, event promotion, airport transfers, final dinner, activities, and more. You might have planned a similar trip at your last company or you are savvy with booking travel and have enough time to fulfill the time commitment. Internal planning allows you to keep total control of every aspect of the planning but can become incredibly time-consuming, especially at year-end. There are a few pros for keeping the planning internal:
    • You have full control and do not need to update an agency for any changes. You can put them in place immediately.
    • No lag time in planning. 
  • Small Boutique Travel Agency Partnership. This option is a partnership in which the company rep stays heavily involved but uses the expertise of a travel agent for destination selection, contract negotiations, advice on activities, booking of transfers, and more. This allows the company organizer to create their vision and spend time planning the perfect itinerary, while the agent handles the time-consuming logistics and bookings. With boutique agencies, the company partners with one agent and builds that relationship throughout the year. With many smaller agencies, that same agent is often staffed on site for your big trip. Many times in agencies of that size, the owner is heavily involved as well or can even be the one coordinating your trip. Keep in mind: most times, using a travel agency as a partner will not add any additional costs for the company but instead provide savings by utilizing the agency's industry discounts. There are a number of pros in using a boutique travel agency:
    • Personalized service;
    • No additional cost typically (in fact, you often benefit from industry discounts and agency relationships);
    • On-site staff;
    • Branded technology offering;
    • Communication team available to interact with attendees and make it easier on the organizer.
  • Large Corporate Agency. The third option is outsourcing 100% of your trip to a large travel corporation, possible the one who currently handles corporate travel at your business. These agencies are briefed on what you are looking for and they run with it. There are a few pros to using a large agency as well:
    • Ease of flight booking (usually cost involved for flights booked);
    • Easier to organize extensions;
    • 800 number available to connect to an emergency line at all time;
    • Volume discounts at specific resorts.

Outside Partnerships

Many companies that are currently handling all of the internal planning in-house do not realize how helpful it can be to partner with an outside agency. With the right partner, the in-house trip coordinator’s life becomes much easier, as a large chunk of their time is freed up to work on other aspects of the trip. It’s also helpful to have a partner who can be involved in the trip planning from day one and available on-site to make the trip run as smoothly as possible. If you can build on that partnership each year, the agency becomes an extension of your company in understanding your culture and company/employee preferences.

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