ARGENTINA TRAVEL PARTNERS (ATP DMC)
Argentina Travel Partners (ATP DMC) Wins 2016 Site Crystal Award For Excellence
We are very proud to share that Argentina Travel Partners (ATP DMC) has recently been honored with the 2016 SITE Crystal Award for Excellence in Incentive Travel: Latin America... This award recognizes creative, practical, and memorable incentive programs that keep employees engaged and drive business. It is very satisfying to our whole team to find our efforts recognized.
Many hours of work and thought, particularly by Project Manager Noelia Benue, went into the presentation of our Client Company’s 30th Anniversary Incentive Trip as a contender for the SITE Awards. Thanks to this, we also discovered that we had a creative video-editor amongst our operational staff (which we were not aware of at the time, but now intend to make full use of), who spent many hours collating the images for the Award presentation. Days of nail-biting ensued until the results were finally announced. We had won!
So how do you WOW a client that has experienced over 20 stunning world-wide destinations, with different group sizes totaling 1200 guests, and arrives with a long list of “must-haves”, including four Signature Events (created exclusively for her company), five pre and post packaged Argentine extensions for additional purchase and daily optional exclusive tours and activities?
We asked the client “Quickly what do you think of when you think of Buenos Aires or Argentina?” Her list follows: tango, beef, gauchos, wine, horses, Patagonia, the Pope, glaciers, ranches, leather, llamas, and Evita.
Argentina Travel Partners (ATP DMC) took up the challenge and became just that – Partners – as the client assimilated into their team. So much in a program depends on the level of trust generated amongst the participants. Without trust in each other’s judgment and motivations, managing a program would be much more difficult.
One also knows the importance of Teamwork, and this project required it for all aspects. From local government input and discussions, CVB materials, videos, hotel tours, 5 Tango shows (J), mountains of Argentine beef, probably too many wine tastings, gaucho demonstrations, polo ponies, not to mention learning about the various soccer teams and venues – each element was tried and tested with the client to show exactly what the travelers might expect to experience.
There were some “I can’t believe it” moments, when we suggested to our client that it would be a good idea to adhere to a local tradition, to ensure good weather for our big outdoor polo event. This is a tradition with brides who do not want rain on their wedding day and is usually the responsibility of the father of the bride.
After convincing our client that as regards the event she was the “father of the bride”, we picked her up at the crack of dawn and drove her to a local supermarket where she (personally) purchased 5 dozen eggs. We then drove one hour out of the city to a small town on the outskirts to deliver the eggs to a local convent. We were received by a nun (who looked well over 100), who accepted the eggs with thanks and a promise to pray for good weather. Whether it was chance or the answer to the nuns’ prayers, the day of the event was just perfect: sunny, warm, and welcoming.
The logistics were “interesting” (to say the least!) The client wanted original gifts delivered for each night of the 5 night program, each with its own card and gift wrapping. When you consider that this was a group of 1200 guests, that’s a lot of gift wrapping!
We were also asked to come up with original invitation ideas for each of the 3 main events of the program. So we came up with the idea of combining both:
The invitation to the Polo Event was a polo ball with the invitation printed on it, accompanied by a woven blanket with traditional gaucho designs.
The gift for the Tango Night was a red and black silk scarf for the ladies and a black tango hat with a red band for the men, with the invitation printed as part of the design of the scarf. Some of the guests liked them so much they kept them on throughout the program.
As the final night was to be a Journey through Time in Argentina, the invitation was in the form of an Argentine passport, with details of the event, and images of Argentina, accompanied by a small wooden “suitcase” containing two bottles of Argentine Malbec wine. The suitcase was covered in stickers showing different countries where the Client’s Incentives had taken place in prior years (this detail really wowed them).
We even designed a special logo for this group’s trip, painted in the traditional “porteño filete” style, which was used on all the signage, badges, invitations and information documents.
The challenge of coming up with Creative ideas isn’t only in the idea: all the work is done from scratch. Designing, refining, correcting a succession of drafts, finding the right suppliers, checking and re-checking the manufacturing, and then one-by-one quality control on the final product, requires many hours. One might be tempted to go with the tried-and-true (and easier). But it is these Little Details that count... that make a difference.
We even created coupons for Buenos Aires’ favorite ice cream parlor, so that the guests could just grab some coupons before going out for a walk and enjoying the dulce de leche flavor so identified with Argentina. Needless to say, they were very popular!
There were also some challenges which prove the usefulness of hiring a Savvy, Well Connected DMC.
The Welcome Night Tango Dinner was all organized and planned well in advance, when suddenly at one of our many meetings the client mentioned that she thought it would be nice to fit in the famous Evita song “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” at some point in the program (which had initially been discarded).
With the help of our creative team (and hours of negotiation with hotel management) we organized a surprise children’s flash mob in the atrium of the headquarter Hilton hotel featuring a choir of 60 school age students and an Evita look-alike on an atrium balcony singing “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” during the official champagne welcome toast to launch the Anniversary Celebration. Needless to say, it was a total hit.
The hotel also agreed to let us create a private hosted “dance club” in a back glass walled foyer, complete with band, bars, lighting, and lounge seating that opened nightly after guests returned from dinner – Club 30, to celebrate their 30 year anniversary.
On the day of the Walking Tour of Recoleta, which a large percentage of guests had signed up for, it rained. The client immediately started to panic… until we whipped out branded umbrellas for the entire group to put her concerns at rest.
Throughout the event, inventive programming and creative cost management elevated this incentive event to the adventure of a lifetime. This was particularly true of budget management, what with inflation, an unpredictable Argentine economy, and political elections (of which there were several), which also had to be watched closely for possible financial effects. It was like being a juggler in the centre ring, managing the expectations of both client and supplier and finding solutions suitable to all. Add to this a government and environment with many restrictive customs and import regulations, which made acquiring raw materials for the projects tricky to say the least.
From coming up with new and different gifts, convincing the hotel to allow special events in unusual spaces, to creating a whole final night out of just an idea, to new ways of ensuring that all the different dietary restrictions were informed without singling the guests out in an obvious way, all the steps in this process have taught us something which we can use and expand on for the benefit of our future clients.
2.5 years of preparation
10000 mails, 150 Skype calls, 220 phone calls,
2 sales trips, 6 site inspections
1246 people involved (which works out at one per guest)
7200 gift wraps, 2400 bottles of wine (!)
5 a.m. last-minute checks to venues
120 eggs to the nuns for good weather
Many new friends…
It was a wonderful ride. Now we are Celebrating (and looking forward to the next challenge).
For further details, please contact Argentina Travel Partners (ATP DMC), Mrs Merina Begg at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hundreds Of Meetings
Skype Calls Galore
Making The Weather Arrangements
Making The Weather Arrangements
Original Gifts And Invitations
Wrapping The Gifts
Child Flash Mob Note Use Of Gifts
Very Early And Cold Advance To The Polo Field
Evita On Balcony
Celebrating A Smashing Event