Can we only sell at R14 to the whatever?
Eco Tourism Incentive options! Swear word to some, opportunity to others.
Call me cynical, and you could be right, it could be as result of many years of excavating the dark recesses of my mind in search of the file titled ‘REALLY EXCITING INCENTIVE OPTIONS’. It could also be my own boredom at the list of incentive options, which had become a bit like Magda in the movie, There’s something about Mary.
Now lets add to the stress of re-inventing the tried and tested (or known and done) by introducing agents to the mix, who maybe equally cynical, their desks cluttered with duplicates of the same list of incentive options (each with a different logo). These folk will certainly expose the soft under belly of our list of options, and who can blame them.
Our anxiety levels grow, we find ourselves challenging establishment managers to create something different for us to sell, only to be exposed ourselves, when changing hats. And donning our lodge director hats, and attempting to provide some direction for an equally frustrated general manager. Understandable frustrations? How many variations can there be to get a cow from the field and into your mouth. And then my personal favourite is the list of dinner venue options; boma dinner, dining room dinner, pool deck dinner, bush dinner, garden dinner, dinner on the airstrip, dinner in the cellar, dinner in the car park. We can only imagine how the conversations go; what do they think this is, Disney World; perhaps someone needs to remind them that this is a game lodge, not a function venue. And perhaps therein lies the conundrum, are we trying to be all things to all people – its amazing how quickly we can produce a list of honeymoon options as well.
In pursuit of the holy grail of ‘wow incentive options’ our agents trawl through lists of establishments, spurred on by that ominous yet expected, client brief:
“We’ve done everything, been everywhere, and so this year you have got to be really creative” Yeah right, like we have been messing with you for the past 10 years, and we were waiting until now to reveal our trump card… and wait for it, “and this year we have a very tight budget” And our agents think, yip and how is that different from any other year.
We feel your pressure and frustration, and so does the chap in maintenance, who can’t understand why it’s suddenly his problem we can’t come up with something different for a change.
I think the real problem is that perhaps there is an expectation that these options should be included in our nett rate (which is perpetually under threat). Speaking of which, each year we confidently reveal our new rates, and then wait for the litany of objections from our suppliers, and our response is generally well thought through, and goes something like this; well if you consider that the Rand has depreciated by 12% against the whatever, we have become 2% cheaper than we were last year, and this is really a fact. Thankfully the ever faithful Rand has yet to disappoint. Is our cynical mind-set sensitized to prefixes like ‘value-adds’? But that is a whole new story for another day.
The time may be right to think out the box for a moment, the rand is soft, climate good, entertainment provided by government, and undiscovered destinations, like the Eastern Cape for example. SA is the real deal when it comes to incentive options, perhaps a little more focus on product and little less on all the other problems will do the trick, or are we just a one trick pony, and can only sell at R14 to the whatever?