Can event planners learn from leisure travel trends?

Tamara Lohan, founder and CTO of travel brand Mr and Mrs Smith, spoke to planners at C&IT's Incentives Retreat.

Tamara Lohan
Tamara Lohan

Tamara Lohan, CTO of Mr and Mrs Smith shared some tips and trends from the leisure travel world at C&IT’s Incentives Retreat. But how can event planners learn from the leisure world and translate these for the MICE industry?

What does the customer of today want?

First of all "It’s the attention to detail and important things that make up the guest experience," Lohan advised.

Agencies that offer a venue finding service need to provide a curated experience. "Booking websites often have no information about the experiences the venues on them offer to guests. People want someone to tell them what is great, which is why we have seen the rise of travel influencers and bloggers in the leisure travel market," explained Lohan.

In addition to a great venue, customers are also seeking out the new and the extraordinary when they travel. "People want to explore the world and budget airlines are opening up new places that might not have been so accessible before," said Lohan. This is also true of the corporate world, where planners must be savvy in finding unique and untapped locations.

What will I do there that is unique? 

Leisure travellers want personal experiences, for example a private wine tasting or out of hours access to a place of interest. This is no different in the corporate sphere, where clients crave personalisation and individual experiences.

The idea of transformational travel is a growing concept in the leisure world, where you come back as a different person. This is where "the experience has changed you as a human being and helped you learn about yourself. This idea goes further than just wellness," said Lohan.

The role of technology 

Customers will increasingly expect to be able to message a travel agent and book their trip in a messaging app. However, it is also important to stay human and stay connected to your customers. "A mix of tech and human input is where the magic happens and this is how we can create the best experience. For complex or group bookings, there needs to be a human involved," Lohan explained.

The rise of 'digital detox' is becoming increasingly popular in numerous hotels, according to Lohan. "People will begin to yearn for places where they can disconnect from their devices and switch off from the digital world."

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