The importance of ensuring a smooth travel experience for incentive or conference attendees should never be underestimated, and nowadays, post pandemic, this has moved to centre-stage.
The Marketing and PR Manager of a leading motor vehicle manufacturing company based in the Eastern Cape spoke to Travel News about the importance of involving a travel agent in all incentive and event booking arrangements.
“I need to let someone else arrange the intricate details of the trip so my delegates can pack their bags, attend the event and have a good time”. She said a tremendous amount of time and energy goes into planning incentives and corporate events particularly if they require flight and transport logistics, and even more if they are held overseas.
“Covid has compounded the need for a travel expert. The last thing I need is to have paid a huge amount of money for flights and a venue and find that delegates cannot travel because they don’t have the right paperwork, vaccinations or PCR tests. We need help every step of the way due to the volatile nature of travel arrangements at the moment.”
Annelie Scheepers, Travel Professional at Sure Maritime Travel says for agents, getting involved in conferencing and incentives directly with the client is a welcome source of additional income. “We work with the client from inception to return of delegates, they handle the company logistics and we do the rest. By taking charge of an incentive we propose a working budget and effectively manage our client’s financial resources, we report on costings post-event and tie up all the accounts afterwards which definitely suits our clients.”
Olivier Périllat Piratoine MD of Club Med South Africa says that MICE business has rebounded quickly post pandemic now that clients have the ability to travel. It’s also possible that these clients haven’t spent money on incentives for a long time. “The majority of our groups and incentives use agents, very few of our group bookings are done directly with companies. We encourage corporates to enlist the services of a travel agent. The relationship enforces communication, accountability and ownership especially if something unforeseen happens. Agents add value, understand the Club Med product and process, and they understand risk and opportunity when it comes to group bookings. They pay attention to details and negotiate what could possibly be pitfalls that the customer would not otherwise be aware of or understand, which also provides opportunity for more complex, rich experiences.
“Agents are accountable for the value chain, the before, during and after and have the expertise and insight to be able to plan and execute bookings within budget and tie up accounts and reporting for the client,” he added.
“We ensure all travellers have the correct information to travel, we check passport validity, vaccine status, visas, e tickets, seating, meal preferences, accommodation requirements, transfers and tours. We assist at check in for every flight to ensure all travellers are boarded successfully. It really is the perfect extra-mile package for our clients,” said Scheepers.
The Marketing and PR Manager rounded up the benefits of engagement with a good travel agency for their corporate company. “By integrating our travel agency with our conference organiser we can handle all the logistics efficiently without putting additional pressure on our own human resources. The travel agency also deals with all supplier contracts and saves substantial amounts of time and human resources for the company’s administration and accounting staff who would typically deal with all the paperwork and who have no experience with travel contracts. Retaining the experience of a good travel agent ensures all our bases are covered from start to finish.”