SITE - the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence defines incentive travel as follows:
Incentive Travel is a self-funding marketing activity that employs unique travel experiences to reward people who achieve exceptional business performance.
- Preferred partner DMCs and PCOs are used abroad by German MICE decision-makers and planners unless if and when a particular expertise is missing. In this instance, German agencies are open to new DMC / PCO partnerships.
- Reliable and speedy air access with special “MICE” contract terms & conditions (e.g. Deutsche Lufthansa Meetings & Events ) from major German and international airports is considered essential due to increasing time constraints.
- Friendliness and warm hospitality are considered a sine qua non.
- German decision-makers and planners delight in receiving tips for "hip" and unusual venues and locations, affordable modern hotels with a personal friendly touch and "in" pubs and restaurants. They want to be informed about new plans, current developments and events infrastructure. Sun is always popular (e.g. at the moment, Spain, Italy and Portugal) but not necessarily essential.
- German decision-makers and planners are often interested in programme delivery possibilities in the rural and natural environs of big cities with groups of up to 50 participants, with suggestions for half-day social / activity programmes and affordable top-quality three- to four-star hotels.
Consideration should also be taken when approaching German MICE decision-makers and planners of what is typical for any particular destination seeking their business. What are the USPs for e.g. non-locals: cultural, business, scientific, culinary, accommodation, entertainment, well-being, access, sporting and activity-wise? These must be plentiful in order to highlight the “attractiveness”, "uniqueness" and "saleability" of a MICE destination.
When promoting MICE events, it is important to deliver a holistic, fully thought- through concept with a transparent and detailed costs breakdown - the latter nowadays vital for corporate financial controllers, compliance and procurement departments. These now form an important and indispensible part of most modern German MICE decision-making processes – as increasingly are sustainability and CSR Officers (especially in DAX-noted corporations and companies).
In view of tighter and / or shrinking budgets in many German sectors and of last-minute corporate client RFPs to German agencies with six to twelve month lead-in times, the primary challenge for destinations and suppliers will be to deliver slick, high- quality, targeted, high-value, memorable and top-notch MICE event programme proposals and flexible options on moderate budgets:
Events which will not only satisfy current requirements but which will also generate authentic personalised experiences, positive publicity and demand for future activity - whether this be full-scale association meetings or simply corporate business familiarisation seminars and retreats with an “incentive travel” touch.
Corporate client RFPs are being sent to an average of three and more German MICE agencies who then for the same compliance reasons send them on to another 3 DMCs / PCOs / hotels / venues. This often means up to 9 DMCs / PCOs receiving an RFP – some the same RFP twice or three times over.
Content, creativity and value for money within a set budget per participant are what decide for a particular airline, destination / DMC / PCO / venue / hotel. Companies often book accommodation and flight requirements via their in-house travel departments.
The problem for many German MICE agencies is that the MICE cake has not grown in size but the number of competing agencies has. This “onion-peel effect” has increased competition among German agencies whose staff in general has been reduced by a third to one half compared to a decade ago. Some 75% of agencies are primarily involved with local business, 25% operate in the international MICE sphere - often with companies whose trade and business is of an international / global nature.
In summary: corporate meetings, congresses and technical visits are currently on the up, classical incentives declining except in traditional automotive and insurance sectors – the situation complicated by stricter tax, procurement and compliance parameters and regulations and by current safety concerns when travelling abroad.