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Five Steps For Planning Effective Incentive Sales Marketing Missions

Incentive budgets are once again on the rise as job markets and global economies improve. By linking travel incentives to specific performance measures, companies can drive employee behavior to attain business objectives. But is it business as usual for convention bureaus and destination marketing organizations seeking to woo incentives to their destination?

Times are changing and as DMO budgets remain constant, with little to minimal growth, it’s important to focus your DMO’s incentive sales efforts in the areas of North America which are apt to garner the strongest return on your investment.

A properly planned, designed and executed incentive sales mission often produces incremental revenue that has a great impact on the bottom-line sales goals for a destination marketing organization.

So, how should a destination marketing organization plan for an upcoming incentive sales mission to ensure that it’s a win for both your organization and the prospective buyers?

Select Your Target Markets

As DMOs can note in CMI’s Top 25 Meeting & Incentive Companies, the majority of the top incentive houses (14 of the 25) are based in the Mid-West, mainly Minneapolis where companies such as Altour, One10, Motivaction and BI Worldwide are located. Additionally, several incentive houses are scattered around Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin and Nebraska.

Other regions to consider for your incentive sales mission include:

  • North East – mainly New York City, New Jersey and Pennsylvania
  • South – Atlanta
  • West Coast – Mainly San Francisco Bay area

Understand The Incentive Business That Exists

In the North American market, the top producing industries are: automotive, insurance, financial services and pharmaceutical. Brush up on the lingo relevant to each market. It’s important to understand the type of work that is leading to the incentive and recognize that different types of incentive experiences are motivational to sales executives in different industries. When possible, leverage the data from your destination’s follow-up surveys so that you can provide specific examples of success stories in each incentive sales meeting.

Keep in mind that the average group size of an incentive program out of the North American market can range anywhere between 80-250 passengers. Companies today are budgeting between $4,000 – $5,000 USD per person for their incentive programs. With this budget, they expect their attendees to be able to have memorable experiences that will transform them as individuals. Building a program that encourages wellness, community and personal fulfillment are highly sought after.

Plan Early

To give enough notice, it is important to reach out to incentive sales managers for a meeting a minimum of three months in advance. Always consider the time of year you are planning the sales calls, including any holidays, as this may affect the planners’ availability. It is good practice to avoid asking for meetings around the same time as major industry trade shows, as well as August, which is usually the summer vacation period for planners.

Include Strategic Partners On Your Calls

Keep the maximum number of partners on a sales mission to five. The more suppliers in the meeting, the less time each supplier will have to present and connect with the planner. For an incentive sales mission, destination marketing organizations will want to hone in on your four and five-star hotels along with DMCs who are familiar and experienced with the North American market.

Listen… Breath… Listen Some More

The art of listening is crucial to success. Too often a DMO’s sales team is focused on telling their own story, without taking into account the needs of the planner. Allow the planner to kick-off the conversation, ask lots of questions in order to understand their needs and programs. This way you can tailor your answers and presentation accordingly and leave out irrelevant information.

Tailor Your Talking Points

Once you understand the clients’ needs, it is helpful to paint a picture of what an incentive in your destination will look like. Sharing success stories of past incentive programs and sample itineraries are usually appreciated, along with plenty of pictures. As they say, a picture paints a 1000 words.

Ensure Success with Follow-up

Follow up is imperative to continuing a relationship in this industry. Even if the planner may not have the immediate potential for your destination/property, an opportunity may come up at any time!

For those incentive planners with promising business, it’s helpful to close the meeting with an invitation to a FAM trip to experience your destination. The dates and theme of this FAM trip should be set in advance of the incentive sales mission. This will make the invitation flow naturally to those incentive planners who are a strategic match for your destination.

Hosting the planner will certainly increase your chances of winning a piece of business in the future, since they will understand what your destination has to offer and they will have built a personal relationship with the individual who will ensure that their program is a resounding success for the participants.

Any DMO sales representative who can achieve these goals is likely to be referred throughout the industry to other incentive planners when their colleagues ask “where have you held an incentive that really motivated your sales team? Oh, and who did you work with who really delivered for you.”

If you would like to know more about planning incentive sales missions in North America, or how to tap into the incentive travel and corporate meetings industry in North America, connect with Stella Tsitsipatis. She can explain how Development Counsellors International can help your destination make the most of its investment in North American meeting and incentive sales efforts, just like it has helped destinations from the U.S. Virgin Islands to Thailand.

Written By

Stella Tsitsipatis

Stella is a destination marketing veteran with experience in marketing communication campaigns and leisure/business tourism sales efforts for destinations in Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and the Middle East.

More Articles by Stella Tsitsipatis

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