The Incentive Research Foundation gathered a small group of incentive professionals in April for facilitated discussions around the return of in-person events. Topics ranged from micro-communications to information privacy to labor shortages, as well as a wish list for the destinations they’re considering for group incentive travel programs.
That wish list reveals many pain points for incentive planners—or almost any conference professional—as they navigate changing, sometimes confusing, Covid restrictions and a wide range of sentiments around masking, vaccinations, and testing.
The group included meeting executives from Creative Group, Maritz Global Events, Motivation Excellence, Meetings & Incentives Worldwide, CWT Meetings & Events, and other leading third parties, as well as from T Mobile, the IRF, and event host The Palm Beaches. While most of these incentive pros were looking for domestic destinations for U.S.-based programs in order to minimize the need for quarantining and testing, there were other key the elements that would make a destination stand out:
• A clear sense of a destination’s health and safety practices. Clients, one executive explained, “are more likely to choose those destinations where the rules and protocols are clear and consistent.”
• Clarity on how consistently local suppliers—properties, venues, transportation, and so on—are following local and state regulations
• Case studies of events that have followed local and state protocols with successful outcomes, that is, no resulting Covid cases
• A convention bureau with an operations specialist focused on “wellness services” who can make introductions to local Covid-protocol suppliers, such as health-screening providers who have worked with large groups
• Good airlift
• Venues with plenty of outdoor space for events, and ample doors, windows, and ventilation for indoor spaces
• Venues available for a full buyout, allowing a group to spread out and have control over the spaces
The full report on the incentive executive roundtable discussions, Buyer Decision Drivers, can be downloaded from the IRF website.