There’s a sense of optimism in the air as we close out 2023. We asked members of SITE’s Women IN Leadership Committee what they predict the incentives and events business will look like in the year ahead.
Members of The Society for Incentive Travel Excellence’s Women IN Leadership Committee share their predictions for 2024.
Meg Pisani, VP, Supplier Relations, Maritz: As we close the door on 2023 and ring in 2024, I am the most excited about having 365 days of collaboration and partnership with our clients and suppliers, building credible event data, another year of events, being a mentor in our industry and discovering up and coming destinations. The outlook for business is strong and I’m excited to see how new technology and innovation (particularly AI) will continue to impact our industry.
Ashton J. Kelly, CIS, Director of Sales, Rosewood London: I’m most excited about utilizing AI to improve efficiencies in the workplace and continuing to think about how we can positively impact our communities through travel. The outlook for 2024 is positive with a good amount of business on the books already. We look forward to staying nimble and humble, in our ever-changing world.
Rhonda Brewer, CIS, CITP, VP Sales, Motivation Excellence: My outlook for incentive travel in 2024 can be summed up with three c’s: Cautious, Cost-conscious and Consistent
What does that mean? With the uncertainty in an election year in the US, clients are becoming more cautious with their spending. Their overall revenue and gross profit is staying flat or declining compared to the last 2 years, so they are more cost-conscious when looking at expenditures in 2024. And, because the hospitality industry has experienced a great deal of upheaval over the last three years, clients are looking for consistent service, at a higher level going forward.
How this translates to the world of incentive travel may mean selecting destinations closer to home, seeing reductions in budgets, and finding partners who can provide extra value through stretching their dollar further. The expectation in 2024 will be that all staffing levels have been ironed out, properties will be fully operating in their on-site restaurants and spas, and all billing regarding a program will be on time from all providers.
All the above should not ring any alarm bells, because the outlook in our industry for 2024 is good. I just think we’ll continue to see clients invoke a more cautious approach when designing travel experiences for top performers. And perhaps, rule structures to qualify will also be more stringent.
What I am most excited about is the fact that incentive programs are alive and well and clients still absolutely see the value in them. Now that rebooking’s are behind us, there is a tremendous amount of opportunity to look for new products and I’m excited to be able to share all that is new!
Barbara Scofidio, Editor, Prevue: I keep hearing people say that 2024 was a “crazy year,” and how it was so “out of the ordinary,” but I believe we are going to see the same pressures when booking hotels in 2024. We’re still in a seller’s market, and FIT demand remains high. Some hotels are adding sales staff, but many are continuing at current levels, so the service on the sales side will continue to be a challenge, with many of them so inundated with RFPs that they can’t get to them all. The hidden fees and surcharges are not going away; it’s not like a hotel will do away with these after they have been successfully collecting them for a couple of years now. The reality is that pressures from revenue management and ownership to maximize revenue will continue to drive hotel-planner interactions, which means more of the same.
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