Travel Agency vs. Incentive Travel Planners: 6 Things You Should Know

grouptoastWe are often asked: “Why should I book my incentive trip through an incentive travel company versus a travel agency”?   A great question and depending on what it is your booking one may fit better than the other but there are distinct differences.  Incentive travel programs are used to increase sales, purchases or in the case of employees, productivity or quality.  The official definition by the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives (SITE) says that incentive travel rewards people for specific results in formal incentive programs. Many companies that offer travel, however, use it in loosely structured programs in which employees or customers are singled out to attend a motivational meeting. What distinguishes incentive or motivational travel from traditional travel is the focus on creating an extraordinary experience for the winner, or an experience that builds morale, communicates the corporate message, or fosters improved communications between the company and its employees or its customers. Here are six things you need to know:

  1. Motivational Message:  A travel agency is primarily in the business to book trips.  Incentive travel agencies are in the business to understand your company and provide a creative approach to make the program stand out in a way that will your employees to work toward a common goal and .   From creating the inspirational message to your attendees being greeted at the airport of their incentive destination, incentive travel companies have the staff to accommodate changes easily.
  2. Personal Service:   If you are working with a large travel agency chances are you will work with more than one agent.  Since agents are always on the phone, calls received at large agencies tend to fall into a cue and answered by the next available agent.  Chances are you will speak with different people about your trip.
  3. Short-Term vs. Long-Term:    Smaller agencies have a higher delivery of personal service but tend to focus on personal family vacations or wedding destination type travel.  These are short-term bookings and best for the individual, non-company related travel need.  However, if you are a company looking for a travel program that is going to have longer-term effect that will positively impact the bottom line, a full-service incentive travel company has the research, booking and planning capabilities to design ongoing employee, sales or customer travel incentive programs for both groups and individuals.
  4. Resources:  Because incentive travel companies often work with more customized group and company individual travel programs, a different level of hotel and destination resources are used.  Incentive companies work with hotel sales and management personnel versus reservations operators and have long-term relationships with destination management companies. This provides the ability to negotiate more on behalf of the buyer.  Incentive company resources are about relationship not just volume booking and as a result, industry connections allow incentive travel providers to receive better flight pricing, lodging, and itineraries.
  5. Trip Analysis:  Companies need to justify the expense of an incentive travel program.  Unlike travel agencies, incentive travel companies don’t stop working for you once the trip is booked or just follow up with a phone call.  Peak Performance Travel Incentives for instance, offers online surveys that analyze travel incentive program needs to either identify the right travel program and to analyze the success of the program.
  6. Your Budget:  Companies like Peak Performance Travel Incentives analyzes your budget thoroughly and designs programs to meet those budgets so you are paying exactly what you have budgeted with fees built in.  Your budget is also monitored throughout the planning process.

If you are a company looking for programs that are based on the uniqueness of the destination and the activities offered, creative planning, ultimate personal service for your employees and shared knowledge that educates everyone fully on what is the best incentive travel program for your company, incentive travel companies like Peak Performance Travel Incentives is an option you should consider.

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