The South-East Europe region is a vast new market offering numerous possibilities for the incentive tourism.
In communication with the partners of the website www.kongresniturizam.com – agencies engaged in organising business events, incentive and team building activities, we have made a research on the presence of the incentive travel in this market, current situation and potential for its future development. We have also prepared several most appealing offers of incentive programmes by professional agencies.
“Working people easily understand the importance of the INCENTIVE travel. Not only do they understand, but they are aware of the great possibility that the dream would become the reality. It is only one project, a few overtime hours, another working weekend apart from that unforgettable experience…” – this is the experience of the company Business Travel Partner from Belgrade. “In the world, companies plan budgets for reward travel ahead, whereas in Serbia, the whole process of encouraging and using this type of compensation is still emerging. Researches show that travel is remembered longer than monetary compensation and that memories are treasured more than cash which is anyway consumed very quickly. Travel takes you away from your workplace physically and at the same time, it is mentally satisfying, because all the work and effort you have invested is acknowledged and rewarded” – says Mr. Miloš Milanović, project manager at the agency.
In Serbia, there are no registered DMCs (Destination Management Company) engaged exclusively in the organisation of the incentive and business travel yet. The percentage of the realisation of this type of travel by Serbian receptive tourist agencies takes the share of 40-50% of their business, and on average, 10 incentive and corporate trips are organised per year. The peak season for organising these tours in Serbia is spring and summer, and especially September, as the month dominant in business gatherings. Corporations ordering the organisation of the corporate and incentive travel predominantly come from the mobile telephony, IT sector, car industry, health care and agronomy, and the most practised activities in Serbia are sightseeing of cities, always on the top of the list, followed by team building activities as an inseparable part of a corporate tour, night life, cultural tours, creative workshops and sports. The events are always finished with a gala dinner and entertainment. The number of incentive travel participants ranges from 30 to 100, and to carry out such programmes, most agencies rely, in addition to their own employees, on external professionals engaged for certain duties and activities.
If we take Croatia and its experiences in the incentive travel field, we observe a rather developed ‘market’ (offer and demand) and a large number of realised tours tailored to client wishes and possessing variety. Incentive tours are designed according to each request separately and adjusted to the demand. The season when the incentive travel is most demanded and most realistic to organise in Croatia matches the general trend of the incentive travel organisation, being spring and autumn. However, interest is growing in Croatia for summer months as well. Sailing, motorboat excursions and cruises are the sea programmes suitable for everybody and ideal for the Croatian indented coastline. From spring to autumn (excluding the period of summer holidays), these activities have the highest demand, and if the weather and temperature are suitable for swimming, they can be hardly competed.
Croatian DMC agencies, the partners of the website www.kongresniturizam.com participating in the survey, focused their activities primarily to the corporate tourism, where incentive travel takes 35%, and the rest is classical business tourism, organisation of corporate meetings, seminars and conferences or production of events (although in some agencies, the incentive travel takes as much as 75% of the business!). The number of participants is impossible to asses, since there are 40 incentive tours per year on average, having between 6 and 400 participants, and the programme is adjusted to the number of participants. Croatian incentive tours are predominated by sea-related programmes implying sailing boats, motorboats and ships, as well as cultural tours and unconventional city sightseeing (e.g. Vespa tours). Popular are also programmes involving team games, cooking, painting, creative workshops and the unavoidable Croatian gastronomy always including wine cellars and wine tours. The frequency of activities naturally depends on the season, and the programme always encompasses activities characteristic of the actual region, age of the group, ratio of men and women, previous experiences and activities, etc.
Croatian agencies claim that in recent years, the car industry share in incentive travel requests has decreased, compensated by the growing share of the clients from the pharmaceutical industry definitely taking the top position and followed by the IT sector, telecommunications, banking and financial institutions and food industry.
Programmes of these agencies are a combination of their own powers, know-how and capacities and, not less important, reliable suppliers and experts necessary for certain activities included in more demanding and complex programmes.
Montenegro is an unfailing source of inspiration for creating unique, original programmes suited for each client individually. Agencies engaged in the MICE tourism realise around 35 groups per year, regardless of the season. The peak period for incentive programmes is, as usual, March, April, May, June, September and October, but there are also groups going for organised skiing in the ski centre in Kolašin. Our analysis has shown that creativity for incentive programmes is not deficient, but, according to Snežana Vejnovic from the Talas-M agency, there are not enough choppers to boost the dynamics, landscape variety and activity range of the programmes. Realised programmes depend on the type of the activity and location chosen by the client. In addition to extreme sports, cultural programmes are often realised with unusual tours of cultural and historical sites, always ‘spiced’ by small but important details, attractions and discoveries. The regional trend of the pharmaceutical industry being the most important client is present here as well, followed by financial companies and the fashion and car industry.
Considering the potentials of Bulgaria and the increasing interest of clients for this destination, Bulgarian agencies engage more and more in the organisation of incentive tours, creating ideas and team activities, with their share being nearly 50% even now. Incentive programmes may be organised in Bulgaria during the whole year, with the most popular periods being spring and autumn months, when the number of visitors to Bulgaria is smaller after summer and winter seasons when the capacities of sea side shore, mountains and modern ski centres are rather full. The number of participants mostly ranges around 100, and the most popular activities in Bulgaria are thematic in character and include entertainment and sports (pirate party, James Bond role or the Olympics). Sofia, as the city with four equally colourful seasons, a mountain close by and its history, may offer a large number of interesting and appealing experiences which could make the basis for planning and creating incentive programmes.
Greece is an appropriate location for incentives, conferences and meetings. It offers mild weather year round, a large number of venues, a great variety of hotel accommodation, numerous museums and archaeological sites accrediting its 4000 years of history and -over and above- hospitality and personal care. Greece has a long and rich cultural history whose evolution has proven especially influential in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Greek culture had its beginnings thousands of years ago in Ancient Greece and has been influenced by the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and finally, modern times.
Furthermore, Greece’s unique influences include the novel ideas and cultures of the many travelers who have passed through the country because of its geographical position as a crossroad between the East and the West.
Crete Island is the largest of Greece and is located in the south of the Aegean Sea and is often visited with Santorini. It is separated in 4 prefectures: Chania, Heraklion, Lassithi and Rethymno. The island has everything to offer: mountainous landscapes, a coast with many beautiful beaches and rocky coves, beautiful towns and charming villages and harbors, excellent food, ruins like Knossos, of the Minoan Civilization, one of the greatest civilization ever, an exciting nightlife…
According to information from Cretan DMC agency 25% of business is related to incentive tours and business packages on this beautiful island, and most of the business relies on sea side holidays. Best period for incentive programs are in April, May and in October and most enquired activities are team building games and historical/natural excursions through the island or to Santorini. Standard number of delegates is around 40 PAX and the main clients come from pharmaceutical companies and oil companies.