The 12,500 top performers from operations in China who descended on Switzerland across three weeks in May have not only captured media attention, but also the eyes of other Asian companies deciding on their next incentive destination.
Chinese top performers visited Lucerne, where they shopped and attended a gala dinner
Ivan Breiter, Switzerland Tourism’s director South East Asia, told TTGmice: “To host the biggest incentive trip of the world was a great honour for us. It shows that we can organise everything in Switzerland and that it will work out perfectly to the satisfaction of the client – like a Swiss watch.”
The operator of the massive incentive movement was G2 Travel, a specialist of group travel.
According to Al Mulenga, director of G2 Travel, Hong Kong office, the business came through its Taiwan office. G2 had previously handled incentives to Germany for 4,000 people.
“This year’s programme to Switzerland is its largest incentive event,” said Mulenga.
“It is massive not only in size, but in costs as well since Switzerland is quite an expensive destination. It meant that Sales staff were motivated really hard to meet good targets in order to qualify for this trip,” he added.
To manage the massive movement, G2 split the group up in three, with each arriving on May 9, May 16 and May 23 and staying for five days. A total of 35 hotels were used in Zurich and Basel, along with 45 restaurants, and 100 Swiss-registered coaches – as required by the local authorities. Gala dinners were hosted in Lucerne Messe and Zurich Arena.
Careful transfer arrangements were made so as not to inconvenience the locals; photo by G2 Travel.
Mulenga revealed that the shopping expenditure for the group was in excess of Chf 4 million (US$4,00,500), most of it made in Lucerne.
“We took careful steps to ensure we did not inconvenience the locals,” Mulenga said, adding that the G2 team worked closely with the Swiss tourism authority and the local police to manage the traffic.
“For example, we used a mix of large coaches and hop-on/hop-off trams to move people around, with the latter used to transport participants within the city,” he said.
The group also called at Liechtenstein, where similar precise ground arrangements were made.
Besides highlighting Switzerland’s ability to handle massive incentive programmes, this event is also expected to rekindle incentive buyers’ interest in the destination.
“Generally, Europe is popular with Asians, especially among those who enjoy shopping and experiencing a variety of destinations. But Switzerland is convenient. Most Asian incentives run for five nights on average, so a group in Europe can only do and see so much without having to change many hotels. In Switzerland, however, one can see and do a lot with just five nights,” Mulenga said.
Breiter agrees, saying: “We often have to adjust the number of guests upwards during the (reward) promotion period – a sign that Switzerland is en vogue.”
Switzerland Tourism has seen a growing number of overnights generated from South-east Asian incentive trips year after year, most of them being high-end programmes. According to Breiter, the destination hosted more than 100 incentive trips from the region last year and is likely to exceed that count by end-2019.
Thailand and Indonesia are the biggest incentive producers for Switzerland, while Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines are source markets that shine, he noted.
“We expect to generate future business from Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar – all of which show a strong interest for Switzerland,” he added.