Our latest blog by micebook nineteen agency leader’s club member, Graham Alderman, founder of Ulterior Events, highlights the importance of incentive travel for all those suppliers and their families around the world who rely on the sector to earn a living…
“Corporate Social Responsibility is a management concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with their stakeholders. The purpose of corporate social responsibility is to give back to the community, take part in philanthropic causes, and provide positive social value.” Source UNIDO
As the years go by, there are rumblings of discontent from some corporate quarters about the value of incentive travel, the impact of incentive travel and the need for incentive travel. Quite rightly, there is a clamour for the inclusion of a CSR element into an incentive trip as without it, in some minds, the trip has no worth to the host community. Whilst no one can deny that planting trees, painting schools and providing required resources is absolutely always beneficial, something that gets completely overlooked at times is that the incentive industry does so much good around the world just by its very existence. Our industry is one we should be proud of because we inject a lot of money, a lot of hope and a lot of benefit into our host countries. Covid has merely highlighted what a lot of us already knew.
Let me tell you about Stanford Mudala. Stan is my friend. I have known him for seven years. He is a driver and a guide and hails from a village outside Livingstone in Zambia. He is married to Mrs. Stan (as his dear wife calls herself when she writes to me) and he has two lovely daughters. I’ve got to know Stan as he has been ever present on the safaris that we take to and through Zambia and he is a lovely man. Stan represents all the millions of operatives across the world who rely on the existence of incentive travel. Stan has had zero income since March 2020 because our industry stopped. Stan never complains, he is a delightfully pleasant man but things are not good. This is a part of his most recent message to me.
“….here in Zambia our families we are trying, we are not working due to this covid 19 things are very hard….”
And when Stan says things are hard, we simply don’t understand. Stan and his family’s livelihood comes from the money he earns through the influx of corporate incentives into Zambia – it’s that simple. This is why our industry and our clients that ultimately spend the money can hold our heads up high. If putting food on Stan’s table isn’t corporate social responsibility, then I don’t know what is? The one thing that we overlook, is that incentive travel provides forecasted income. We are not the wider tourism industry, in which people often book a guide or experience for the same day or the next morning. Incentive travel provides long term expectation.
When our industry is in full flow, Stan knows months and years in advance what work he has and this provides security to Stan and his family. Every incentive group that gets booked will need drivers and guides, marquees and tents, food and flowers, all of which is staffed by the local community and because we take groups all around the world, the money we spend on behalf of our clients gets distributed through multiple layers and ultimately ends up in the hands of Stan and all he represents.
A recent open letter from South Africa hospitality as a whole to Boris Johnson simply showed the desperation that Covid has caused but also highlighted the absolute good that travel does. Here’s a snippet:
Dear Prime Minister… the pain and suffering experienced daily in South Africa is heart-breaking. I wish you could see first-hand the destructive impact on local communities that depend on tourists visiting from your country. It seems to me that against the backdrop of full stadiums at Wimbledon, Wembley, Silverstone and Sandwich, the only beneficiaries of your two-week quarantine policy are the hotel companies themselves. In the meantime, an entire nation suffers. While this policy is in place, you prevent your entire country from traveling to our beautiful Rainbow Nation. You’ve effectively shut down our entire industry. We need your citizens to visit us and spend their valuable currency in our establishments. In South Africa, we believe in the spirit of “UBUNTU”. It means “humanity” and is sometimes translated as “I am because we are”, or “humanity towards others”.
I humbly invite you to demonstrate the spirit of UBUNTU… Yours in South African Hospitality
Travel will continue its slow progress back to where it once was and the money will start filtering back into the hands that need it most. We don’t just put people on beaches, we also put food on the table. Without incentive travel the world is a much poorer place. We should be proud of our industry and proud of the good that we do. To my friend and every other Stan around the world, we will be back as soon as we can, and we can’t wait to see you all.