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What’s the State of Incentive Travel?

An incentive-focused hotel executive provides insight on demand, scheduling patterns, and health security for upcoming travel-award programs.

As MeetingsNet’s editors roamed the exhibit hall at mid-November’s IMEX America show in Las Vegas, we bumped into Kevin Edmunds, vice president of meeting and incentive sales for AIC Group. His firm operates the Hard Rock resort properties in Mexico and the Caribbean as well as the Nobu Hotels in the U.S. and Mexico plus the Eden Roc Resort in Miami Beach.

We threw a few questions at Edmunds about what’s happening in the incentives segment as the season for award travel is about to begin.

MeetingsNet: How was your 2021 in terms of incentive-program business?
Kevin Edmunds: Actually, it was pretty good because when Hawaii and Europe were closed to outside travelers, most of the Caribbean stayed open. We got a lot of additional business because of that.

MeetingsNet: As Covid continues to create uncertainty for group travel, what kind of demand are you seeing for the first half of 2022?
Screen Shot 2021-12-20 at 2.14.43 PM.pngKevin Edmunds: Demand is quite strong because there were many program winners from 2020 whose travel was canceled, and they are being combined with the 2021 winners in upcoming programs. As a result, we’re seeing more companies doing back-to-back waves of five-day programs—some companies will even do two or three full buyouts of a property to get everyone through.

MeetingsNet: Covid is still a serious concern, even with the majority of American adults being vaccinated. What are your properties doing to make sure that incentive programs can happen without becoming super-spreader events?
Kevin Edmunds: At all of our hotels, we have Covid tests being performed by medical personnel before incentive winners go home, so planners don’t have to coordinate getting the tests and hiring staff to administer them. We include one Covid test per participant in the cost of each incentive program.

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