21st century travellers navigate the globe with the support of amazing technology and communications power that supplies all requested information and makes most decisions for them. Delegates to company conferences, as well as to industry events, will expect to be provided with full details about the venue, agenda, accommodation and transportation. Nothing is overlooked, except perhaps the most significant element of this travel experience, which is the destination city or country itself. But today’s millennial generation is wide-eyed and savvy. They demand more from their business travel itinerary.
An excellent article on the Conference & Incentive Travel web site highlights the emergence of a new buzzword in the business travel mantra – “Bleisure”. This describes the desire to combine a business visit with the discovery and appreciation of the culture and character of the place where the conference is being held. This has been compared with the approach taken when planning incentive travel programmes. Attending a conference or exhibition should not just be about products or services, it should also be an opportunity to learn more about other nations and nationalities, about people and places up close and personal!
The article in C&IT magazine was sponsored by Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). This extract describes the proposition as follows:
“There’s nothing more disappointing for conference delegates than attending an event in a destination they’d love to explore and spending the entire time sitting inside a corporate venue. However, a number of recent trends, such as the rise of “bleisure” travel (the combination of business and leisure), the growth of the “experience economy”, and the healthy meetings movement, mean that destination experience is becoming as important a factor for conference organisers as it is for incentive planners.”
The article goes on to say that
“destination appeal is the number-two driver for attendees (after education) when they’re deciding whether to attend a conference or meeting. According to the Decision to Attend Study by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), 71% of attendees report that the destination factors into their decision, with 20-30% saying it’s the deciding factor.”
The added ingredient
For companies planning any corporate event, at home or abroad, the same principle applies. The extra ingredient that makes the biggest impression is the unexpected (and often unfamiliar) interaction with local communities. Incentive travel is a reward for exceptional performance and the high achievers who participate will have a natural curiosity and desire for new experiences. They and the senior executives and managers who attend conferences and exhibitions are on a quest for knowledge. The wider horizons outside the event venue offer exciting possibilities.
Organising successful company conferences, hospitality events and incentive travel involves detailed logistics and administration, as well as professional on-site event management. It also offers the chance for delegates and guests alike to combine business with pleasure by exploring aspects of the destination which may not be easily accessible on an individual basis. Examples can include private dinners in fine restaurants and exclusive venues, access to local culture and entertainment, expert guidance around historic sites, participation in sports and recreational activities and many other unique experiences. An established and experienced event management agency will have local contact and destination connections worldwide which enable them to enhance corporate event programmes with these extra ingredients, turning the concept of “Bleisure” into a reality.