Incentive travel planners attending the 14th annual, invitation-only Trailblazers Marketplace in Québec City last month received quick updates from the six European destinations in attendance.
From Canada, the word is variety. “You never have to repeat an itinerary in Canada,” said Michele Saran, director, incentive sales development, Canadian Tourism Commission. "Canada has the wow factor, and it's right in your backyard." And maybe it's time to try a Newfoundland incentive, considering Saran's snapshot description of the country: “They say if Alaska and Ireland had a baby, it would be Newfoundland.”
News from Britain: The Open Skies agreement has increased options for getting across the pond, said Lisa Sjolund, business development executive, VisitBritain, giving you more than 130 flights into Britain from North America. (Forget what you’ve heard about Terminal 5’s opening woes at Heathrow. It’s all sorted!) And talk about choice: If London’s 100,000 hotel rooms aren’t enough, just hang on. Some 18,000 more are on the way as the city prepares to host the 2012 Olympic Games. Need to save money? Build some choice into your itinerary: Attendees want free time, and that’s free to you, too.
Ireland, meanwhile, is more than stunning scenery, said Marie McKown, manager, business tourism, Tourism Ireland. Along with its welcoming people, the country combines the traditional and the contemporary (and links courses!) at every turn. Historic castles and estates operate as luxury resorts, while modern developments—such as The Waterfront Hall in Belfast and the ultracontemporary Convention Centre Dublin, set to open in 2010—prepare to host your group. Offsite venues range from the Guinness Storehouse to the library at Trinity College, which dates to the 16th century.
In the Principality of Monaco, home and host to titans for more than a century, said Cindy Hoddeson, director, meeting and incentive sales, Monaco Government Tourist Office, the latest news includes the Bus Boat water shuttle, new Michelin stars, and continued attention to “green” issues. This goes back to Prince Albert I, who was a scientist and an explorer,” she pointed out. Now Prince Albert II has launched a foundation dedicated to environmental stewardship. And the Grimaldi Forum Monaco next month expects to receive its ISO 14001 certificate, an internationally recognized standard in environmental management. “All Monaco’s properties and DMCs can help you be as green as you want to be,” Hoddeson summed up.
Variety is the spice of incentives in Switzerland, where attendees can experience four languages, cultures, and cuisines in one country: Swiss German, French, Italian, and Romansh. “And in one day, you can see cities and lakes, glaciers and palm trees,” said Lila Rousta, account manager, MICE, Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau. “Also we still use the Swiss franc rather than the Euro,” she added, “which offers very good value for groups.” Of course, there are also the constants: cheese and chocolate.
Finally, in the Kingdom of Denmark, incentive groups will find new five-star hotel options, innovative design and architecture, a beloved and down-to-earth royal family, and a longstanding focus on sustainability, said Britt Sorensen, marketing manager, VisitDenmark. More than one third of Copenhageners reportedly bike to work or school, for example, and capital city Copenhagen will host next year’s United Nations Conference on Climate Change.