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Friday, 20 November, 2015, 15 : 30 PM [IST]

SITE Global Conference 2015 opens up foreign trade to Incredible India

The SITE Global Conference 2015 themed ‘Awaken your Senses’ which concluded at the Taj Palace, New Delhi last month, was by far one of the well-organised conferences, the core organising committee of which was from the SITE India Chapter. Attended by about 100 members from the SITE India Chapter and incentive travel trade in India, the Conference cleared the myths and updated the perception of Incredible India in the minds of foreign trade. Akansha Pandey reports

There was a lot of expectation among the Indian incentive trade as well as speculation among the foreign incentive trade regarding the SITE Global Conference 2015. But to no surprise, the Conference turned up as an eye-opening event for the foreign trade, most of whom came down to India for the very first time. The soon to go on air conference testimonials are full of laurels for the successful event. Elated to have a first-hand experience of the destination India, they probably returned as ‘Brand Ambassadors’ of India tourism, looking forward to sell India as a promising incentive travel destination. The major challenges are the long haul flights, consuming more time and increased tour costs, opined the foreign incentive trade.

Anup Nair, Conference Chair and President, SITE India Chapter revealed, “289 delegates attended the inaugural ceremony, out of which about 100 were Indian delegates. It was a long cherished dream to bring the SITE Global Convention to India and the SITE India Chapter has indeed turned it into a reality. Showcasing the authentic Indian hospitality and flavour, the host venue too left no stone unturned to put their best foot forward.”

Rajeev Kohli, President-Elect for 2015, SITE exclaimed, “In my 21 years of being in the trade, this was by far the best SITE Global Conference ever. I was overwhelmed to witness that the level of delegate participation was very high with the top notch decision makers from global incentive travel companies making it to this Conference. Our sole objective was to showcase India as a promising incentive travel destination. The team at SITE India Chapter made a passionate effort indeed which reflects from the fact that delegates are still talking about it and looking at India positively.” Kohli further added that 90% of the foreign delegates were first timers to India.

Combating Human Trafficking

‘Stop Human Trafficking in Travel and Tourism’ was one of those outstanding quality sessions which addressed the trade on the rarely-talked about issue and its close relation with the travel trade. Daryl Keywood, MD and CEO, Walthers DMC highlighted that human trafficking is the 3rd largest international crime generating USD15B. “At any given time, there are an estimated 750,000 child predators online and they all have a key to your house via the internet. Over 80% of arrests happen at airports and hotels,” he said.

Annamaria Ruffini, President and CEO, Events In & Out SRL, urged the trade to include a clause in their employees’ work contracts stating a zero tolerance policy against the issue and working towards raising global awareness of the issue through communications and social media.

India & its Renewed Growth Story
Addressing the delegates, Amitabh Kant, Secretary, Department of Industrial Promotion and Policy (DIPP), Government of India, asserted that India is a long-haul destination and all about the diversity of people and experiences. “It is too large a country to cover in one go and thus travellers need to revisit India repeatedly in order to discover newer dimensions of the civilisation,” said Kant.

Growing Opportunities with SITE Young Leaders Program
“If you want to strategise for future growth, you must have a passionate young team too, on board, mostly people who are IT savvy and familiar with the new age social media tools,” highlighted Joost de Meyer, Chairman and CEO, First Incentive Travel. He added that they must be nurtured and motivated with incentives, familiarisation trips and bonus from time to time to enable them stay for long. “Regular investment on young staff is significant thereby providing opportunities to take decisions and learn from experiences,” he said.

Talking about SITE Young Leaders Program, Sean Hoff, Managing Partner, Moniker Partners added that he has got great references after associating with the program. IMEX and SITE have a close relationship and we have grown further with the SITE Young Leaders Program, quoted Laura Mears, Account Manager, IMEX Exhibitions.

Nitin Sachdeva, Co-Chair, SITE India Young Leaders Program revealed that there are 5 members associated with the program so far. The growth has been satisfactory and members are recognising the quick connect and quality collaboration offered by the program, he said.torytelling@SITE

Addressing one of the SITE Storytelling sessions, Mohit Satyanand, urged the delegates to take up pilgrim travel to Kedarnath for a subtle yet life-changing powerful experience. In another session, Lori Martin, President and Owner, Performance Improvement Incentives asserted that this is a golden age of destinations and agents must come up with novel philanthropic and inspiring events. Corporate Social Responsibility divisions in each corporate house have good budgets which if utilised through incentive travel, can make a huge difference, he outlined.

Alicia Yao, GM, IME Consulting, Beijing
India and China share the Buddhism connect and makes a great destination for high-end luxury travel. The bad press has made the Chinese people give a second thought to travel to India. However, incentive is a well planned and organised travel and I plan to bring a group to India.
Galina Bukovska, Head – Conference & Incentive, Baltic Travel Group, Latvia
With the news doing the rounds, I was hesitant to travel to India but this is my first time to India and I am feeling comfortable here. It turned out to be better than my expectations. This trip will surely prepare me well to sell incentive trips to India in the future. People are always looking out for newer destinations and I plan to consider India soon.

Catherine Jones, CMP, CITE, The Edventives Group, Dallas
This is my first time to India and the experience so far has been beautiful. I have not done outbound incentive travel to India yet. I am sure that my clients will love my first hand experience to India. People in our region have a different perception of India and I look forward to bring a group to India to clear the myth.

Sean Hoff, Managing Partner, Moniker Partners, Canada
There has been interest in people from our region to travel to India as its steers up imagination. People are travelling for 3-5 nights from Canada and sadly, the flight from Canada to India is of 17 hours, which eats up most of their time. For few of my clients looking for innovative itineraries, going forward, I plan to tap Mumbai and Goa from India.

Dana Weaver, Sr. Manager – Marketing Services, Growmark, Bloomington
The rural setup and agriculture style can be of great interest for the people of Indiana, USA. The evening get together at Kingdom of Dreams was unimaginable. I am sure India can blow away the travellers from USA. People were hesitant of me travelling down to India but I will go back with a renewed perception.
Joost de Meyer, Chairman and CEO, First Incentive Travel, Orlando
With the United States (US) Dollar getting stronger, people are looking for newer long haul destinations. There is a great sentiment to travel down to India but a direct flight is the major deciding factor. US people follow local media and if the Indian Government can promote their tourism through the local US media, then they can witness increase in footfalls. This is my 5th time to India and I am planning to design incentive trips to India.

Incentive Travel Budget & Marketing
Briefing about being mindful about the p’s and q’s of the incentive travel business, Kathryn Anderson, Manager – Quality and Development, Maritz Travel stated not to go ahead without a signed contract. “Get 10-25% of the budget of the incentive trip in advance. Choose the most effective style of communication as per the target and have a strong backend and analytics support in place. Going forward, prepare yourself and do the marketing campaign as per the target audience. Most importantly, set measurable goals,” she said. Rajeev Kohli outlined that the credit risk is preferred for regions where the credibility quotient is high. He further stated not to take a credit risk of more than 10%.


Excellence in Incentive Travel – Asia Pacific
Creative Travel, New Delhi, India

Excellence in Incentive Travel – Africa/Middle East
Dragonfly Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa

Excellence in Incentive Travel – Europe
Iceland Congress, Incentives & Events, Reykjavik, Iceland

Excellence in Incentive Travel – North America
USMotivation, Atlanta, USA

Most Impactful Effort towards CSR as part of Incentive Program
Walthers DBS, Douglasdale, South Africa

Most Effective Incentive Marketing Campaign
Meet Taiwan, Taipei, Taiwan

Best Destination-based Experiential Incentive Travel Program
Inspiration India (a brand of Incentive Destinations), Gurgaon, India

Un-complicating Work
Keeping up the interactive quotient, Bart Berkey, Senior Corporate Director – Eastern Region Global Sales – HSMAI, The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company LLC made the delegates communicate and find solutions to their own concerns. Driving conclusions on the queries received beforehand, he commented that customer service people can also be utilised to drive sales which will eventually bring the budgets down. “They will have an unconventional approach and with training support, they might come up with flying colours,” he averred.

Addressing on how to boost business, Berkey asserted that one needs to differentiate their brand from others. Also, trade needs to understand the right amount of information which needs to be conveyed. Too much of information won’t be read ultimately. Make the buyer feel personalised by calling him by name and remembering his preferences. Moreover, it must not be overdone, he said. Destinations must be promoted by storytelling. Talk about what makes it different and deliver the same in a story. People will relate to it, he added.

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