Sienna, Marissa and Christian Fernandez, all of DMS at the roadshow at SO/Auckland recently Sienna, Marissa and Christian Fernandez, all of DMS at the roadshow at SO/Auckland recently

CSR factor in incentive travel

Incentive travel has had a significant facelift in the past few years, with organisers wanting to ensure their groups leave a positive legacy behind when they leave the destination, says Marissa Fernandez, managing director of DMS (Destination Management Services).

Fernandez was in Auckland recently for the DMS roadshow, where a range of destination management companies (DMCs) met with more than 40 New Zealand incentive
travel practitioners.

Fernandez says that while rewarding individual and team performance remained a key, the way it is being done has changed.

‘It is about transformational experiences, they (qualifiers for the incentive) want to be immersed in the destination through local experiences. It is much more than sightseeing.’

Fernandez says virtually every incentive trip now has a corporate social responsibility (CSR) element.

‘That was a trend before Covid but it has really picked up and sustainability is part of that.’

She says incentive participants are often keen to ‘get their hands dirty’, be it through repairing school equipment, painting a building, digging a garden in a community or some other activity.

Fernandez says overall the outbound incentive scene from New Zealand is strong.

‘Incentive companies have grown in the past year, they’ve added new staff who are keen to learn.’

She says Vietnam is probably the most sought after destination from New Zealand corporates right now, followed closely by Thailand and Japan.

In Europe, emerging destinations include Malta, Cyprus and Portugal.

‘These places are seen as being affordable as well as being different. Spain is getting interest because of the America’s Cup, we’ve got a couple of groups (from NZ) going there and Turkey is also strong.’

She says th latter is more accessible now because of a Turkish Ailrines direct flight from Melbourne with just a brief stop in Singapore on the way.

‘Argentina and Brazil are picking up but flight capacity is a challenge there. We’re seeing a lot of interest in Mexico and also South Africa,’ adds Fernandez.

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