WOULD YOUR TOP DOGS DIG A TRIP TO CHINA? What are you looking for in an incentive destination? A place your groups haven't been before? Sights that will turn on your techie contingent? Something exotic? Consider China. I'm just back from a visit, and here are three reasons why now is the time to go.
1. Disappearing Gorges. What technology enthusiast (or the child within who once played with toy trucks) could resist a trip to the Three Gorges Dam Project, now under construction? The dam will be the largest ever built (phase one opens in 2003), spanning 1.2 miles across, rising 600 feet, and costing some $29 billion dollars. Built to generate hydroelectric power, the dam will change the face of the river forever. These are the last few years to bring a group through the majestic middle reaches of the Yangtze before its transformation. The dam will flood the Qutang, Wu, and Xiling gorges and the Yangtze River Valley, essentially erasing the river and creating a 360-mile reservoir. The water will rise approximately 550 feet, flooding about 250 cities and towns and many more villages. Orient Royal Cruises, which makes hay in its brochures about hosting IT king Bill Gates, sails East King and East Queen through the gorges and can arrange tours of the dam construction site. While the Orient Royal ships are currently only about a three-star product, renovation plans are in the works.
2. All Spiffed Up. The People's Republic of China will celebrate its 50th anniversary this fall and to get ready, landmarks around Beijing are being completely renovated--Tien'anmen Square, Mao's Tomb, the moat around the Forbidden City, and more. A visit in 2000 will find the city in top shape. And, despite the exotica of this major Asian capital, IT groups will find a piece of home in Beijing. On the highway from the airport to city center, it seems like miles of billboards from Motorola, IBM, Samsung, Epsom, 3Com, Ericsson . . .
3.-Quality . Kingsway Incentives, launched last fall with offices in Beijing and San Jose, Calif., allows planners for the first time to work with a U.S. corporation on their Chinese programs. Aligned with destination marketer Networld, Kingsway is working to bring the incentive mindset to China. Even with its earliest projects, the DMC is creating high-end, once-in-a-lifetime events. How about a sit-down luncheon on the ramparts of the Great Wall or a final evening in the Great Hall of the People? Later this year Kingsway is planning a first: its U.S. insurance company client will bring 800 for dinner inside the walls of the Forbidden City.