High-Flying Travel Incentives

By Malcolm Fleschner

After September 11, travel incentives lost some of their luster for a significant portion of the business community. But with winter’s icy grip upon us, tropical beach destinations are looking better and better.

But if you are planning on taking your team on a trip anytime soon, you’ll want to get the most bang for your incentive-travel buck. For help, consider these suggestions from the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives:

1. Gateways
It’s helpful if an airline’s gateway cities are convenient for your attendees. If not, see if the carrier will work with you to get through fares on other airlines so that your people will not have to be inconvenienced by having to claim baggage between flights.

2. Routes
Make sure the terrific group fare you negotiate for doesn’t come at the expense of time. Multiple connections, stopovers and unnecessarily long hauls can set a wearying tone for what’s supposed to be a fun, rewarding experience.

3. Partnering
Does the airline have a dedicated incentive-travel department to work with you to find the right destination for your group at the best price while anticipating and proactively dealing with any stumbling blocks that may arise on the way?

4. International vs. Domestic
International airlines are usually attuned to the trends, hotels, venues and attractions in their native countries. Plus, international carriers bring a distinct flavor to air travel that may help set the exotic tone for the trip. At the same time, domestic airlines can be more convenient because they offer more gateway cities within the US and easily redeemed frequent-flier miles. Be sure to explore all your options before making a decision.

5. Charter Solution
You don’t have to be a CEO or rock star to charter an airplane. A charter flight does offer one great advantage: flexibility. You’re not beholden to an airline’s flight schedule. And although it will likely be more expensive, you may feel that the extras, like specialized menus, an open bar, in-flight entertainment and greater group camaraderie, justify the added cost.