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From http://www.tourismupdate.co.za
06 Tue, Sep 2011
Riana Geldenhuys

AFTER a three-year slump the global incentive travel industry is showing an upswing with international companies rediscovering the vital link between motivational travel (previously termed incentive travel) and employee performance and customer loyalty.

They are returning to offering travel rewards, but keeping it close to home for now as they continue to watch their budgets.

To which extent Southern Africa will benefit from this upturn, is too early to say. Some South African destination management companies are already reporting increased bookings, but emphasise that these are for 2012 and beyond.

“It’s a perfect time for corporations to get back to the grass-roots value of incentives, particularly travel,” says Carol Wain, President, Incentive Travel Council. According to a recent Society of Incentive Travel Executives (Site) survey, more than 80 per cent of international companies surveyed said they planned to incorporate motivational travel in the next one to three years.

Daryl Keywood, South African Chapter Leader, Site, which has more than 2 000 members in 92 countries, agrees that the industry has turned a corner.

“As we move out of the recession we will initially see clients stay closer to home especially for their own employee reward schemes. Dealer or distributor incentives are slightly different as clients view these as customer trips and can justify sending customers on higher cost or long-haul trips over employees,” says Keywood, also MD of Walthers DMC. “Although clients are venturing back into motivational reward trips, South Africa is usually a destination that requires longer term planning.”

Besides the strong rand, Keywood states the global recession and fear of negative publicity around motivational rewards as reasons for a slow return.

Yolanda Woeke-Jacobs, Director: Sales and Marketing, Dragonfly Africa, reports a healthy increase in potential business for 2012 and 2013, but says if South Africa wants to attract more incentive travel it should seriously look at its high hotel, private lodge and airfare rates.

The country should work closely with trade in its key international markets, adds Roshene Singh, Chief Marketing Officer, South African Tourism.

Cape Town, safaris, Sun City and the Victoria Falls remain Southern Africa’s main incentive travel attractions, while a third of incentive programmes include meetings, product training, team building or a corporate social responsibility element – a percentage Keywood expects to grow in the future.

Singh adds: “Global travellers increasingly choose authenticity, spending time with locals, working with them on community projects, and preparing and eating traditional food.”
*Would you say that there is an ‘upswing’ in motivation travel to Southern Africa? Which destinations are more popular? Let us know by leaving your comments.

Riana Geldenhuys

The Editor