Incentive Live Celebrates the Return of Travel Programs

Incentive travel buyers and suppliers gathered May 1-4 in Los Cabos, Mexico, to network, discuss the latest industry research and share their experiences and challenges. 

Dinner in charming San José del Cabo was a highlight of the three-day event. Photo Credit: Ketara Gadahn for Studio Alani

More than 150 incentive travel buyers and suppliers gathered at Northstar Meetings Group's Incentive Live event, held May 1-4 at Hacienda del Mar Los Cabos Resort, Villas & Golf in Los Cabos, Mexico. The three-day event brought together planning professionals and suppliers to network, meet in one-on-one appointments and share their experiences of the past two years.

The program's morning educational sessions consisted of a first look at the Northstar/Cvent Incentive PULSE Survey. Among the key findings, presented by Northstar Meetings Group's executive vice president and group publisher David Blansfield, revealed that planners are looking to book future programs outside the U.S. and that fewer alternative rewards would be offered to participants, compared with last year's Q4 Incentive Pulse Survey. The session also included a preview of an unreleased Incentive Research Foundation study, shared by the organization's president, Stephanie Harris. According to the study, incentive program budgets are rising, but they are just covering increased costs of hotels, airfare and other program elements.

The first day's education concluded with underwater photographer and sustainable tourism advocate Jay Clue's brilliant photos and entertaining introduction to the wonderful aquatic wildlife of the Los Cabos region.

During the second day's education session, six incentive planners and suppliers — Tiffany Cohen, Jennifer Brown, Lupe Downing, Sonya Easly, Frank Robleto and Richelle Suver — shared the evolution of their respective programs and businesses from pre- to post-pandemic times in a series of honest discussions with Lisa Grimaldi, Northstar Meetings Group's editor, incentives and destinations.

Incentive Live's generous sponsors include host property Hacienda del Mar Los Cabos Resort, Villas & Golf; the Los Cabos Tourism Board which sponsored dinner in San José del Cabo; the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal, which sponsored the Monday lunch; Amstar DMC, which handled all transfers; Mexico Planners, who provided creative décor and unique activities; Cabo Adventures, which sponsored afternoon experiences; Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, which sponsored the education sessions; Maui Jim and Essential Bodywear, the gifting and merchandise sponsors; Seiko, sponsor of our appointment timing system; MeetingPlay + Aventri; pc/nametag and Safe Access.

Northstar Meetings Group has a number of upcoming events on the calendar for 2022. Planners and suppliers can register their interest in attending upcoming meetings at any time.

Following are highlights of Incentive Live:

A Warm Welcome

The stunning Hacienda del Mar Los Cabos Resort, Villas & Golf was the host hotel for Incentive Live.

Attendees generously donated clothing, beauty products and accessories in aid of local women’s charity Centro de Rehabilitacion - Amor al Addicto Dificil y Reincident.

The event kicked off with a toes-in-the-sand beach reception.

The evening was capped off with an amazing performance by two fire dancers.

Day 2

Stephanie Harris (right) previewed the findings of the IRF’s new incentive travel survey, while Northstar’s David Blansfield (center) presented the generally positive outlook of the Northstar/Cvent Incentive PULSE Survey.

Underwater photographer Jay Clue introduced the audience to the inhabitants of the Gulf of California, known as the World’s Living Aquarium.

A delicious outdoor luncheon was served at the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal.

A swim with delightful dolphins was one of the many afternoon activities the group enjoyed.

The final evening’s dinner was held in the magical setting of San José del Cabo’s historic town square, with scrumptious fare provided by the town’s top restaurants.

Day 3

Roundtable participant Richelle Suver, vice president, One10, explained how recognition differs from rewards, and how both can be used as recruitment and retention tools during the “Great Resignation.”

Ivan Ljubinkovic, regional head of business development for Visit Hungary, reassured the audience that the Central and Eastern European destinations represented at Incentive Live (Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland) were safe and ready to welcome groups.

Lourdes Bizarro, Los Cabos Tourism Board (right), meets with Shonna Nitzel, Maritz Global Events, during the one-on-one appointments.

Attendees enjoy the farewell lunch of tacos, churros and more at the Hacienda del Mar.

Interested in other Northstar events? Register now.