The Adrian Loveridge Column – Incentive Travel
Recently seeing an image of one of the late Sir Freddie Laker’s B707’s, registration number G – AVZZ, painted in Caribbean Airways livery, took me back several decades to when we conceived and operated one of our largest groups at that time to Barbados.
We had approached a Swedish owned high end caravan company who had a small manufacturing plant in Felixstowe, England. They had a fairly steady average production line each month with the notable exception of September, which was traditionally a quiet time in terms of unit construction and sales.
So we crafted an incentive scheme, where every retail dealer that purchased at least one caravan to be delivered and invoiced in September, ‘won’ a ten day holiday to Barbados for themselves and accompanying partner.
Even factoring in 40 years of inflation, the cost per holiday had to fall below GB Pounds 500 each person, which gave return flights, hotel accommodation, most meals and what now seems like an incredible offering which included a mini-moke safari, exclusive charter of the original Jolly Roger and several other goodies.
Southern Palms was chosen as the host hotel, which still remains one of my personal island favourites. All went incredibly well with the 72 member group until the day of departure. After checking-in, we boarded the aircraft and taxied off almost exactly on-time. A few minutes later, there was a very loud explosion with one of the four engines fragmenting across the fuselage.
In what appeared to be a very English accent, the Captain, who I suspect was ex: Royal Air Force, calmly announced that we ‘had developed a slight technical problem’ and had to return to Barbados, which would take a ‘few minutes’. At first you could barely hear a whisper, but as the time ticked away, that mummed quietness slowly turned into an almost crescendo of noise as anxiety grew. Eventually, as we saw the island lights in the distance, that noise evaporated and we landed perfectly safely without further concern.
Of course, with almost full fuel tanks, the plane could not land before dumping thousands of gallons of aviation spirit at sea. By then, Southern Palms Hotel had re-filled with new guests, so our next challenge was to find almost 40 empty rooms at a few minute’s notice. Fortunately, Rockley Resort was able to accommodate the entire group for the 4 days it took to fly a replacement engine down from Miami and the time to fit and test.
The same air crew flew us back to Gatwick without any further incidents.
I still believe incentive and motivational travel offers incredible further potential for a destination like Barbados, despite tax changes negatively impacting on the net beneficial value to the recipients.
For many of our visitors, a taxation rate of 40 per cent on earned income is not uncommon, so the award of unplanned holiday can often be a far more compelling ‘carrot’ than cash after mandatory deductions.