Is Travel Still an Incentive?

Meetings & Conventions: Incentive News

Patti Roscoe
Patti Roscoe In the new post-Sept. 11 world, the incentive industry, like most other areas in the meetings and travel realm, is reeling. Most programs scheduled through the end of September were canceled, and future programs, including those with contests still in progress, are being carefully evaluated.

In the weeks following the attacks, “Many planners were looking into chartering planes and designing programs to destinations that winners could get to by motor coach or train,” said a spokesperson for the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives, based in New York City.

Debbie Rohlman, corporate vice president, group services, for Fenton, Mo.-based Maritz Inc., reported many clients have been inquiring about contracts, cancellation fees and the possibility of postponing trips. “Now they are communicating with their incentive winners as to what they want to do; it’s a personal decision, and there is still so much uncertainty,” she said.

“This is not the same as the Gulf War, where our clients were flooding Hawaii and the Caribbean instead of going overseas,” Rohlman added. Domestic sites are faring as poorly as overseas areas, she said.

Patti Roscoe, chair of San Diego-based PRA Destination Management, said that many companies scheduled to hold meetings and events this year were postponing or rebooking them for 2002. Some clients, she said, are interested in bus and train options for their programs.

A planner for a New England-based bank, who asked not to be identified, had her incentive house come up with a domestic destination, accessible by luxury motor coach, as a “just in case” alternative to the program that had been scheduled for France for next summer. The incentive house designed an upscale program in Palm Beach, Fla., and the planner was calling qualifiers at press time to ask which reward they would prefer.

• Edited by Lisa Grimaldi

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