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January 29, 2018

Sub-Saharan Africa: Winning Incentive Strategies

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Looking at the country through the eyes of an incentive travel planner reveals myriad ways to unpack and repackage the “South African experience”. South African Tourism encourages incentive travel with a dedicated section on its website that highlights a range of popular incentives as well as hidden gems. The Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) holds these values as important: connections, creativity, trust and results. And these are what clients booking incentive or reward travel are looking for. It’s a constant search for new ways to “reward, retain and motivate employees”, as SITE notes.


“It’s all about the experience and the motivation that reward travel can, and should, deliver,” says Yolanda Woeke-Jacobs, vice president of sales and marketing at Dragonfly Africa. “We are usually asked to submit the best-suited programme for our destination based on budget, location, group size and time of travel. The amount of input we initially get varies from client to client. That’s the joy of our role, and why a DMC is indispensable, thinking outside the box and getting creative; pushing the boundaries to ensure the best possible incentive programme for our clients.”

Peter-John Mitrovich, CEO of Grosvenor Tours, notes, “Meaningful travel is not just applicable to incentives; we see a similar trend developing within our leisure experiences we create. There is always room for quality accommodation, but the experience each program creates and the interactive philanthropy is what makes the journeys we create memorable.”

He says that of Grosvenor Tours incentive programmes of 2017, the best memories came from the programs in which guests got involved with the natural, human and cultural experiences in each of the destinations. Through these innovative, tailored experiences guests actually left something behind as they gave back to society, nature and people in need.


Requests still come in for the more “traditional” experiences, such as safaris and trips to the beach. It is a challenge to reinvent these well-worn offerings that the country is famous for but planners are all about looking at in demand locations with a fresh eye. When Yolanda from Dragonfly Africa receives requests for experiences iconic to Cape Town, such as a visit to Table Mountain, wine estates and Cape Point, she gets creative.

“We can enhance a visit to Table Mountain with a Harley-Davidson transfer. For the wine region, we try select lesser-known boutique-style wineries so we can involve the winemaker to host the tastings and do a cellar tour. This can be further enhanced with unique tastings such as chocolate pairing or even a wine safari. At Cape Point, we take guests out to sea with speedboats, a totally different way to view the Cape of Good Hope. If guests are lucky they may even see a whale or two in season,” she explains.


There has been increased focus at the major trade shows like Africa’s Travel Indaba on surprising and delighting visitors by showcasing some of the country’s hidden gems, out of the way places and unique experiences. Peter-John from Grosvenor Tours says: “Myself and my team use our knowledge we have from growing up in this wonderful destination to find the little gems to expose our guests to, such as Darling, Paternoster, Sutherland, Prince Albert and many others. To know why we go there, well, you need to go and have a look.”

Yolanda finds planners are open to cultural experiences and spending time with local people. “A CSR activity is really a great way to do just that and at the same time give back to these communities. Clients get to leave a legacy behind, so it’s not just the experience itself but actually making a difference while at the same time having an amazing incentive trip,” she says. More exclusive and intimate experiences, such as these, may require groups to be divided into smaller groups and using smaller coaches, she adds.

Dragonfly Africa notes a decline in popularity in some markets for interacting with wild animals in a controlled way, such as walking with lions, cub petting and riding elephants. Clients are increasingly aware that this is not a natural environment experience.


Peter-John says at Grosvenor Tours they are all about tailoring experiences that showcase the destination. He looks at why visitors come to the country and what the key differences are between where they come from and what is on offer in South Africa. The answer is: “Our food, our wine, our music, our people, our natural beauty.”

Yolanda urges planners to always choose quality: “From the moment clients arrive in the country, the experiences should be unique and not something they could arrange on their own. Each and every activity should be custom designed for their specific programme and profile.”

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