June 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Incentive News

Lex Granaada Like their domestic counterparts, incentive programs sponsored by European firms have been impacted by a slow global economy and security concerns. As a result, European incentive groups are staying closer to home.

A survey of 800 Europe-based planners sponsored by the European Incentive & Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition found that 14 percent reported a decrease in the number of programs they planned outside European Union nations in 2002.

The decision to stay within the EU reflects tightened budgets, says Philip Alford, a senior lecturer in tourism issues at England’s University of Luton Business School, who analyzed the results of the EIBTM survey along with data compiled by various European tourist boards.

Post-Sept. 11 fear also has played a role in keeping groups close to the Continent, said European incentive professionals. “This has particularly affected programs that were planned for Middle East destinations such as Egypt, Morocco and Turkey,” said Henri Poudensan, director of sales and marketing, the Four Seasons Hotel The Ritz Lisbon. “Most of those programs have been rerouted toward destinations such as Portugal and Spain.”

Ireland, too, “is experiencing something of a boom in business from fellow EU countries like France and Germany,” said Padraic Gilligan, director of Dublin destination management company Delaney Marketing.

Another trend on both sides of the Atlantic: Lead times for booking programs have been reduced dramatically this year, as cited by U.S. planners. In May, for example, Poudensan received an inquiry for a large German incentive scheduled for July.

Some sources noted the number of participants is smaller. Lex Granaada, managing partner of Netherlands-based incentive firm Granaada & Partner, said group size is down 10 percent this year.

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