Group travel up, but group sizes down

DESPITE the difficult economic climate, corporates in SA seem committed to the use of incentive travel as a powerful motivator of business results.

This is the view of Uwin Iwin ceo, David Sand, who says growth is coming from businesses that have expanded into Africa and have qualifiers from pan-African destinations.

He says budgets have stayed constant so the weaker rand is putting pressure on the number of participants that can be accommodated with a similar budget to the previous year.

“Destination selection is still largely influenced by the company’s past track record of travel and the level of experience previously achieved. Safe, exciting, visa-free destinations are certainly winning more business.”

This year has been close to a record year for Beachcomber Tours with regard to group and incentive bookings, confirms group sales executive, Enid Maullin.

“This coming year, however, we anticipate that some companies will look at cutting costs, budgets and incentive travel due to the economic climate. We are seeing a number of smaller group enquiries coming through.”

Thompsons Holidays PR and media manager, John Ridler, says they have certainly noted an increase in group travel this year with regard to small company incentives, family and friends travelling together as well as sports groups.

“Many companies arrange events in tough trading periods to incentivise and stimulate staff. We have noticed, however, that group sizes and the number of days away have reduced, as budgets have decreased. Destinations are completely varied, with local still taking a big slice of the pie.”

World Leisure Holidays reports a positive growth in MICE groups, but budgets are much tighter, agrees group sales manager, Martine Sanderson.

“Group size has definitely changed to smaller groups as opposed to the industry norm of sending large 200- to 300-delegate groups in one go.” 

On the other hand, Cruises International has noticed an uptake in family, group and incentive travel as well as a slight increase in the group sizes for incentives, says Lizaan Schnettler, groups and incentives manager.

“Clients and companies alike are recognising the value proposition a cruise holiday offers. Most planning an incentive are only looking at balcony cabins, as they want to maximise on their incentive. There is also an increase in luxury cruise enquiries, which is fantastic.”

Walthers Destination Business Solutions (DBS) Africa has recorded significant growth in incentives as well as association and corporate meetings, with much of its new business from expansion beyond Southern and South Africa.

Md and ceo, Daryl Keywood, who currently sits on the SITE International board of directors as the Africa and Middle East representative, says the past year has seen the company arranging events for its international inbound client base to several African countries outside its traditional stomping grounds.

“These include meetings in Accra, Addis Ababa, Lagos, Arusha and Nairobi, as well as incentives to East Africa and a SITE Crystal Award-winning incentive in Madagascar.”

He says within Southern Africa, Cape Town remains strong for meetings and incentives, as does a bush experience and Victoria Falls for incentives.