When we think about travel, the destination is what typically comes to mind. We think about brightly lit cities, sandy beaches, good food, and an opportunity to unwind from our daily lives. We don’t like to think about security lines, flight delays, and navigating unfamiliar airports. But when it comes to incentive travel and destination events, event planners and travel managers have to keep those challenges top of mind. Thankfully, working with an experienced agency ensures a memorable experience and seamless travel.
What Are Destination Events?
Destination events take place off site, but we don’t mean right down the road. Instead, they involve travel to captivating cities or exotic locations. For that reason, they often include significantly more (and more complex) logistics as you arrange for attendees to get to the destination. Due to this, they’re often multi-day events, which include a mix of business and social/leisure activities.
The Benefits of Destination Events
Much like other corporate events, destination events can have several goals. But whether you’re planning an incentive trip or simply a destination meeting, the benefits are significant, and the ones we’re about to describe are just a few of the reasons you should consider this type of event.
Acting as a strong motivator, an incentive program offers a multitude of benefits for your organization. The motivation only increases if you choose an exotic local, a desirable city, or a location with exciting off-site activities. But the perks of destination meetings go far beyond that. For example, recognition and reward programs allow you to recognize employees for various achievements, which in turn builds employee loyalty. Plus, these programs are often shared through word of mouth, social media, and even websites like Glassdoor, which can then help you attract top talent.
When it comes to problem solving and creative thinking, getting out of one’s typical environment can be remarkably helpful. Taking your team out of the office means you expose them to new places and ideas, allowing them to build and strengthen relationships and teams.
In addition, a destination event often boosts engagement, productivity, and creativity. Travel can bring out the best in people, and time away from normal activities and schedules can help them return to work with more energy and new connections.
This all sounds ideal, right? But as exciting and beneficial as destination events are, you can’t forget about the logistics that go into these programs. Without the help of experts who work in this space on a daily basis, certain factors may be challenging, for example, managing group travel logistics, especially if air travel is involved.
How to Overcome Airline Ticketing and Group Travel Challenges
If you’re planning a destination event, you likely have many questions when it comes to arranging travel. This can be even more complex when you have attendees traveling from different cities (or even countries) to attend your event.
Choosing an Airline for Destination Events
The first challenge you’ll face is choosing an airline. With airfares rising for a variety of reasons and airlines offering different amenities, routes, and hubs, there’s plenty to consider. Obviously, you want to balance cost against other factors. For example, you might be able to find a great deal, but if that deal involves lengthy layovers, that may not be the best choice for your attendees. When it comes to business travel, especially for incentive programs, direct flights (when possible) are ideal.
Further, choosing economy may seem appealing for your budget, but we recommend business class, especially when it’s part of an incentive program. While basic economy is great for leisure travelers, it often comes with restrictions and limitations, so if saving on travel is the goal and economy is a must, be sure to consider the limitations that exist. Restrictions can range from blackout dates and minimum/maximum stays to advance purchases and no cancellations or transfers.
We also recommend working directly with an airline rather than a travel or booking site. While booking sites often boast cheaper fares, if something goes wrong, working with a third party can further complicate the problem and delay the resolution.
Airport and Venue Transfers
The need to make multiple transfers, especially when other modes of transportation are involved, can further complicate travel. However, sometimes a layover or car transfer is inevitable. Similarly, transfers from the airport to the venue can be complicated when attendees arrive on different flights at different times.
While many venues offer a complimentary shuttle to and from the airport, privately arranged transport certainly increases the quality of a program. Working with an events team like Bishop-McCann, you’ll receive an arrival/departure manifest, complete with a chronological order of incoming attendees and when attendees depart for home. Additionally, travel professionals will attempt to book connecting attendees on the same second leg of the flight, ensuring attendees arrive in as many condensed groups as possible. Though you don’t want to leave attendees waiting for hours at the airport waiting for group transportation, you also have to be mindful of event budget constraints and the expense of multiple (or many) trips. This is when scheduling can become burdensome and working with an experienced event planning agency that specializes in air travel management is vital.
Cancellations and Trip Disruptions
Life happens. Weather happens. Delays happen. Most of these are out of your control, but you can take necessary precautions such as avoiding known high-risk weather areas, such as Miami during hurricane season. Sudden cancellations often create chaos for those unprepared, so make sure you take steps to avoid these disruptions when you can.
Carefully planning the timing and location of your trip is imperative. Along with being aware of weather events, you should also consider things like holidays and peak tourist seasons (which may make a trip more expensive and crowded). Scheduling around these can help you stay within budget and increase the likelihood of smooth travel.
While providing support before and after a trip may seem like a manageable task, supporting the trip as it is occurring can be extremely overwhelming and needlessly stressful, especially when the unexpected pops up. For example, if your keynote speaker’s flight is delayed and they miss a connecting flight, you would have to scramble to find alternative flights or a new speaker. That’s why many organizations leave travel management to the experts.
In addition to being an event planning and meetings management agency, Bishop-McCann also provides group air travel management, which means you can sit back and enjoy the in-flight entertainment while we handle the logistics.
Ready to start planning your next incentive trip or destination meeting? We’re prepared to create an unforgettable event while helping your attendees get wherever they need to go, so you can focus on enjoying the experience. You can even read our case study about how our air travel team can navigate any storm! Reach out to our team today, and let’s start planning.