Bespoke travel is the talk of the town

When it comes to incentives and groups, many travellers are demanding something new and exciting, but how can you deliver customised travel for groups?

“It’s all about the experience these days. Travellers today are quite savvy and they’re looking to do interesting and exciting things that take them off the beaten track. You cannot discount the power of social media in driving this type of behaviour. Travellers don’t want more of the same thing and they don’t want to have to think for themselves,” says The Travel Corporation’s md, Teresa Richardson.


Off the beaten track


She says that while the usual destinations such as Paris and Rome are still very popular, there is more demand to visit off-the-beaten track destinations and for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Thanks to technology, travellers are more knowledgeable about the destinations they visit, and are likely to have done some research before their trip. “This increases their expectations,” says Noku Dlodlo, sales manager at Mercure Hotel Bedfordview. Travellers are now looking for unique, one-of-a-kind experiences.”


Keeping it fresh


Enid Maullin, Beachcomber group sales executive, says every year the tour operator looks at different ways to offer unique experiences. These include unique dining options and cultural activities involving the local communities and eco-sensitive experiences. Dalene Oroni, groups manager at Development Promotions says repeat groups are looking for different and new destinations, and new groups are trying to promote bucket-list destinations and unique experiences.

One of the ways this is playing out in the marketplace, says David Sand of Uwin Iwin Incentives, is that companies with first-time travellers are usually more open to unusual destinations, as long as the complexity of the trip is minimal, while experienced travellers are looking for completely unique experiences outside of their comfort zones and frames of reference.

“We are seeing experienced travellers requesting out-of-the-box thinking from our side. Clients like that push our creativity and it is really exciting for us. We recently took a group to Lapland, truly once in a lifetime, and another group to Sri Lanka, a new unexplored destination with some magical experiences.” Sand adds that clients are also looking for unique experiences at more commercial destinations.


Busy itineraries


Travel manager at Club Travel, Mandy McEvoy, explains that it’s essential to keep the itinerary packed for incentive travel. “Activities or day trips need to be arranged almost every day, plus gala dinners and often teambuilding days such as survivor on the beach or amazing race around the island.

“Islands are the most popular as it is easier to keep a group all together in a resort on an island such as Mauritius rather than in a city like Phuket,” she adds. McEnvoy says cultural experiences, such as a Mauritian cooking class as a teambuilding activity, are becoming increasingly sought after.

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