Claire Martin-Williamson (née Okrafo-Smart), former Client Experience Director at Absolute Corporate Events, has launched her own boutique events agency called The Incentive House. We caught up with Claire to find out more…
Why launch now when the industry is still struggling due to the ongoing impact of Covid?
I always wanted to set up on my own, but I never quite had the nerve, and the pandemic gave me the motivation I needed to launch The Incentive House.
I talked to a few business owners and friends, all of whom were able to give me invaluable practical advice.
It’s been a really inspirational process, learning about accounting, social media, and creating my own website. I like the fact that, as a small business, you can reach out and work with other small businesses and form your own support hub of like-minded people. A friend in the industry became my mentor, and her belief in me really pushed me forward. It really was a case of now or never.
Tell us more about The Incentive House. Will you be purely focused on incentive travel?
While the name The Incentive House draws specifically on my incentive expertise and experience, I will of course offer clients a full range of services.
I have specialised in incentives for many years and that is my passion, but I am also realistic; I just want to create and deliver inspirational events of all shapes and sizes from recognition programmes to corporate and social responsibility initiatives.
How will you differentiate yourself?
Being a small company enables me to form strong personal relationships with all of my clients and I can be with them every step of the way, from inception to completion.
I learned the ropes at McGarvey Russell, which taught me all the aspects of the industry really well. It was all about getting to know your clients and their personalities, the important details that make them tick. I really pride myself in exceeding clients’ expectations and always being one step ahead.
Do you have any confirmed clients or bookings yet?
I have some client enquiries already and some recommendations from industry colleagues, which is fantastic. I have a small live event running in September, and that is what I am working towards at the moment.
Do you think incentive travel will return to pre-pandemic levels?
Yes and beyond. I think people are ready for travel now.
I have attended some brilliant virtual events, but nothing beats the real thing – virtual is not going to replace travelling to a beautiful destination, meeting people, sharing experiences and building relationships. I do accept that we need to consider green issues and sustainability more seriously, but perhaps that’s for another article!
I think people will strive for those once-in-a-lifetime experiences and The Incentive House will be ready!
The pandemic has given our industry the opportunity to reset and re-evaluate how we can do things for the better. Creativity is on the up.
What are your plans for the future?
I have always worked in very tight-knit teams and I hope to continue that. I do see the company growing in the next few years and I’m very much looking forward to building our brand and becoming a key player in the industry.