The benefits of incentive travel are well known – from motivating staff and helping businesses achieve their goals, to fostering employee loyalty and improving team dynamics.

For tour operators looking to make their mark in the incentive travel space, joining incentive travel associations and societies is a great way to build connections on a global scale. In addition to this, by being part of these organisations, travel companies not only receive professional support from other members of the group, they also gain access to data around incentive travel research and trends, and are given opportunities to expand their skills and experience.  

To find out which organisations offer the most value, Tourism Update asked a few local travel industry insiders which associations are helping them keep in touch with the global incentive industry.

World of DMCs

World of DMCs is the largest association representing first-class Destination Management Companies (DMCs) worldwide. Members adhere to ADMEI membership requirements (Association of Destination Management Executives International) and operate locally in their respective countries, providing professional DMC services for incentives and meetings, special interest groups, corporate events, conferences and congresses. Established in 2007, World of DMCs is now represented across 60 destinations worldwide.

The Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE)

SITE is the only global organisation that supports the incentive travel industry. The organisation provides members with professional development, certification, and business connections. With more than 40 years working in the industry, SITE has over 2 000 members in 90 countries, with 29 local and regional chapters.

Incentive Marketing Association (IMA)

IMA is made up of companies that are the leaders across the $90-billion incentive industry. IMA is the only organisation in the field representing every segment of the marketplace, from advertising and sales promotion agencies and gift card/certificate suppliers, to manufacturers, performance improvement companies and travel specialists, among others.

WATA Global Network

WATA is a non-profit association established in 1949 in Switzerland, which brings together DMCs on the basis of one per country. WATA offers a range of services from tailor-made leisure groups and incentive trips to meeting, congresses and Events across over 50 destinations.

While these associations offer obvious value, CEO of Africa Tourism Partners (ATP), Kwakye Donkor, explains that smaller operators may lack the budget to join such groups. For these businesses, he advises that they spend their budgets on learning as much as they can about the incentive travel space. “It’s very important to keep learning,” he says. “Signing up for incentive travel training programmes will prove more affordable than becoming a member of a global association/society, and the insights you gain through this training about the industry will equip you to understand your clients and enable you to better meet their needs.”