Meetings & Conventions: Incentive News
INTERNATIONAL DESTINATIONS LAMENT PLANNERS’ RELUCTANCE TO GO
Where Are U.S. Groups?
Sans dollars: Fewer groups visit Paris.
A year ago, international suppliers were looking
forward to regaining business, lost after 9/11, from the U.S.
incentive market. But enticing American groups to foreign shores is
proving difficult, due to a slower-than-expected economic rebound,
SARS and the continued threat of global terrorism.
Suppliers interviewed in late May by M&C discussed
the challenges in selling far-flung destinations to U.S. planners
in these cautious times.
“Although there was a time when South Africa’s share of the U.S.
incentive market was growing, the past year has been rather slow
for us,” said Solly Moeng, U.S. manager for South African Tourism
(who announced his resignation from the organization at press
time). Moeng cited the state of the American economy and many
incentive planners’ preference for destinations nearer to home as
reasons for the decline. Yet, he said there are signs the situation
In SARS-plagued Hong Kong, tourism officials have put many of
their incentive marketing efforts on hold, although the travel
advisory has been lifted.
“These things are cyclical we know incentives eventually will
come back,” said Kevin Welsh, regional director for the Hong Kong
Tourism board. “For now, we’re concentrating on the association
market, since they book so far out.”
Michael J.S. Freeland, vice president, sales and marketing, at
LSO International, a destination management company with operations
in France and Monaco, said he is once again receiving requests for
proposals from U.S. planners. At press time, however, France and
other European Union nations faced a new challenge: the dollar’s
drop against the euro.
Nevertheless, Freeland believes planners might be enticed by the
destinations’ latest offerings as well as by their safe reputation.
Lee Derrick, regional director for sales at the Old Course Hotel,
Golf Resort & Spa in St. Andrews, Scotland, has radically
changed his approach to the market by reducing his trade show
participation and “hitting the road” to visit clients.
“You don’t necessarily walk away from these meetings with
handfuls of RFPs,” said Derrick, “but you get good quality time
with your clients, where you can talk specifics and have dinner,
lunch, cocktails, etc., with them, at a fraction of the cost of
attending a trade show.”
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