Why buyers future’s are changing (for incentives & meetings)

For Buyers: A 3 part article – to help you with 2023 & 2024 ..

Part 1: changes, questions, budgets, climate, destinations, experiences & networking.
Part 2: organisational focus on people, culture, comms – how the best buyers are buying.
Part 3: how my best buyers design creativity, culture & communications – into Meetings & Incentives.

Part 1 (below): changes, buyer’s interests, budgets, destinations, experiences & networking.

Changes influencing my buyers: Macro-level changes include climate, economical, social, political, environmental & sustainability. Micro-level changes include destinations, experiences, networking, organisational, cultural, relationships, employee-turnover, wellness, group air-rates, exchange rates, supplier relationships and 2023 & 2024 availability of destinations/hotels/suppliers – creating very early & short booking windows. In 2022, Harvard Business Review listed 11 key business trends/changes to watch (fairness, safety, work-time, employee-turnover, relationships, technology, hybrid-working, wellness, ESG Purpose, health, DE&I). This explains why our customers are talking to me about creativity, culture & communications, special memories & wow experiences. Change is a good thing. When businesses, organisations and their people experience change, it focuses everyone onto the importance of purpose, culture, communications, relationships, socialising & connecting. Question for you – how is ‘change’ influencing you and your plans for meetings & incentives?

Questions from my buyers: recent examples include (1) what are your other buyers doing? (2) how are their organisations managing their incentives, (3) what are their leadership teams doing for culture, meetings & incentives, (4) can you please share any new ideas/thinking that you’re working on, (5) I need help with creativity, costs & time, how can you help me ?

Very simply – buyers come to me as they are frustrated with, or limited to, old ideas/thinking, and they want new ideas/thinking. Buyers with “old thinking” focus only on the basics (budget, destinations, flights, hotels & programme), nothing more. Buyers who lead on “new thinking” focus on the basics, plus purpose, creativity, availability, speed, flexibility, objectives, climate, sustainability, wellness, diversity, connecting, relationships & personalisation. Its these subjects that I’m busy with – most of my customers are asking for help. Especially with availability for 2023 & 2024.

Budgets: Generally speaking, budgets are increasing with global/local inflation, and with the rising costs of meetings & incentives (flights, hotels, transport, food). That said, at Make Happen, we always help our customers stretch their budgets by reducing costs. As you know, budget stories vary from customer to customer – by profitability, market, geography, industry, size, age, growth/decline, leadership, decision makers, and culture. There is no single trend. That said I can share this .. I see budgets are increasing or stable in the growth industries of energy, health, fintech, biotech, tech & digital. Some of our customers are naturally experiencing mergers & acquisitions, which often results in their budgets temporarily freezing or reducing – e.g. finance, insurance, cosmetic etc. The big thing to share with you – is how budgets are being used more carefully, by buyers who are leading, innovating & changing. I see budgets being used more carefully in 3 ways .. (1) customers partnering for 3-5 years with a single global agency, instead of multiple different DMCs every year, (2) customers spending their budget with M&I agencies who truly understand the customers culture & challenges, (3) customers working closely with their partner agency, to plan all budgets in detail, to deliver the results, value and return on investment – which CEO’s expect.

Climate: M&I Organisers are focusing on climate change, to help the planet, economies, society, and their employers strategy/policy on reducing climate change. Countries are planning to relocate their societies, simply because of damage from climate change. Fiji is planning to relocate 42 Fijian villages from 2022 to 2032 (more here). On Nov 1st, the Iguassu Falls “Devils Throat” walkway was washed away, because water levels were x 10 normal, caused by climate change (more here). It’s an obvious & immediate threat to our planet, humanity, economies & businesses. Most humans & businesses accept this truth, and look for leadership on how to improve things. Businesses are responsible for fixing climate change. Employee’s are deciding who to work for, based on their employers position on climate change. Brand identity, financials profits, business culture and employee performance/wellness is being influenced by what businesses do and do not do for climate change. Organisers of Meetings & Incentives are in the spotlight for climate leadership. A question for you – if your employer needs to show evidence of your green strategy on climate change – how are you addressing climate within your M&I programmes, and where must you make immediate changes?  For ideas, simply email dave@makehappen.co.uk.

Destinations: you will see many articles covering “new or hot destinations”. We don’t believe in this. Our best customers explore adventurous & different destinations (Rwanda, Jordan, Nepal), that are away from the mainstream of capital cities (e.g. London, New York & Paris). Yes, many of our customers dream of visiting beautiful destinations like Buenos Aires. However, in our experience, destination thinking/selection is based more truthfully on purpose, objectives, where groups have and have not been, flight access, culture-fit, cost, group size, hotels/experiences/restaurants. For 2023 & 2024, the adventurous travel destinations we suggest include .. Antarctica, Cappadocia, Buenos Aires, Lima, Serengeti, Belize, Palawan, Auckland, Taipei, Freiburg, Atlanta, Lagos, Reynisfjara, Mérida, Luxor, Cook Islands, Raja Ampat, Jerusalem, Trondheim, Slovenia, Azores, Maderia, Plettenberg Bay, Chiang Mai, Kilimanjaro, Kyoto, Ha Long Bay, Oman, Nepal, Malawi, the list is endless. When it comes to new or wow destinations & experiences, we can help you. If you want destination ideas for 40+ of the world’s best destinations for meetings & incentives – visit our destinations page here.

Experiences: We all know how boring parts of the M&I industry can be (it’s a very old industry, with lots of copying & pasting of ideas, with very little creativity). When designing experiences, I sometimes find customers and suppliers can be equally boring, and also be happy simply copying someone else’s idea (because it saves time, but they ignore the wow factors). With ‘digital’ making younger & older generations want unknown meaningful experiences, the days of some ‘traditional’ places and experiences are numbered. You will have seen many destinations and DMCs offer experiences that anyone can book online – but 100% of my customers want the opposite for their group. My buyers want experiences that are truly special, unique or rare. So, to give you an idea of the experiences we work on here at Make Happen, here’s a random list of 23 powerful wow moments ..  Galapagos Island cruise, Rwanda gorilla trekking, Snorkelling in Bora Bora, Sail from Ushuaia to Antarctica, Myanmar’s temples of Bagan, the Nabatean city of Petra in Jordan, Pakistan’s Karakoram Highway, Argentina’s Perito Moreno Glacier, Chile’s Easter Island, Borneo’s wild orangutans, Botswana’s bush safaris, Nepal’s Annapurna base camp, India’s magical Varanasi, Turkey’s Cappadocia at sunrise, Aurora Borealis in Canada’s north-western territories, Bhutan’s Tigers nest, The Gubeikou to Jinshanling stretch of the the great wall of China, Climbing Kilimanjaro from Tanzania, Diving the Cenotes in Mexico’s Yucatan, Cape Town’s Mountain & Restaurants, Ice caves within the Vatnajokull glacier of Iceland, Living like a local on Lake Titicaca in Peru, and sleeping outside under the stars in Jordan’s Wadi Rum.

Availability: is honestly the biggest challenge for myself and my customers. 2023 to 2025 is already very busy for most destinations, hotels & suppliers. As availability is low globally, my smarter customers have already booked their incentives & meetings programmes for 23-25. If you’re planning a 250 pax incentive into Iceland for Oct 23, then there are not many hotels with that capacity, and availability is already very low. If you’re planning an 80 pax sales meeting into Turkey for May 24, then there are not many hotels in Cappadocia with that capacity, so you’re looking at 1 or 2 hotels. Timescales for planning vary around the world/markets. My LATAM customers often have shorter lead times than my European customers. In APAC, lead times are also shorter than normal, and hotel availability is also very low. This low availability around the world is driving most of my better customers to be faster with their decision making, and select destinations and programmes much earlier than normal. Unfortunately, some of my customers have also been to slow, and have painfully lost availability, resulting in lots of extra time & cost. If you are seriously considering or planning an incentive or meeting, and you are ready to make decisions, feel free to call me anytime for advice on availability – I will save you a lot of time.

Networking: you probably know about IMEX, IBTM and the Meetings Show. However, you might not have experienced inVoyage, micebook, M&I Forums, The Meetings Space, Rendevouz, Pure, or even the smaller private meetings (by invitation only). It’s not possible to say “go here, try this” as everyone has different and unique needs for networking and finding new suppliers. Personally speaking, I will initially point buyers to IMEX & IBTM, especially if you have clear objectives & valuable meetings. IMEX & IBTM are both huge shows, with hundreds of exhibitors, so they are naturally quite overwhelming at times, however they continue to be valuable for some buyers. When I get to know my buyers better, I then guide them to some of the smaller industry shows/meetings (inVoyage, micebook, M&I Forums, The Meetings Space, Rendevouz) are all very interesting for me, and my buyers. They are interesting for different reasons. Their service differs slightly to each other, however they are smaller, and therefore more focused and specific for buyers (in my personal opinion). For example inVoyage specialise in connecting buyers with luxury incentive destinations and suppliers – and this is one of my favourite new networking meetings. Micebook is also offering fantastically valuable meetings and forums, and is worth following/attending. For advice or suggestions, simply email dave@makehappen.co.uk.

How to use these ideas above – and be a creative thought leader: Think about your network & colleagues seeing you as a thought leader. Think about what’s important for the planet & yourself? What’s important for your CEO and organisation? What’s important for your people & participants? Make changes that are good for you & your organisation and the planet. Decide if you want to be known for old or new thinking. Plan how you will manage your new thinking. Remember to think about climate, destinations, experiences, networking, creativity, availability, flexibility, sustainability, wellness, diversity, connecting, relationships & personalisation. If you need to, partner with an M&I specialist who can help you.

Support Make Happen  : we have a small favour to ask. Since we started in 2012, many buyers & planners have placed their trust in Make Happen’s creativity, turning to us in moments of growth & change. 26 buyers from 14 countries now power us financially, supported by a secret collection of very creative global suppliers – making us global, creative and forward thinking. Make Happen has none of the problems suffered by bigger ‘dinosaur’ M&I agencies (e.g. high customer fees to pay for big & unused supplier teams, or fragmented teams, or poor speed/creativity/flexibility). We simply have the power, creativity and passion to deliver highly creative, global meetings & incentives. We know you do not always has a brief to give us “today”, as its often about timing & need. But as we are a buyer-funded M&I specialist, we rely on buyers who can give us briefs. When you give us the opportunity to quote, you’re supporting our mission to be your “go-to creative M&I specialist”. Show your support by emailing us a brief today. With your help, we will deliver a creative service that modernises the M&I industry – so you can enjoy high-impact meetings & incentives. Thank you. email your briefs to dave@makehappen.co.uk.