by Andrea Doyle | May 22, 2013
After spending many years on the back burner, incentive travel is rising again. "Incentives, in general, are starting to make a comeback," says Jim Rye, founder and president of RYMARK International, an Orlando, FL-based meeting and event solutions company. "And Mexico is perfectly positioned to take advantage of this trend." 

Last year, Rye planned an incentive to luxury property Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita in the Riviera Maya for a major technology and financial services company. He explains: "Management didn't think optics [perception] would be good if the group traipsed through Europe last year. Mexico was a great alternative."

The diversity of experiences to be had in Mexico are numerous. There is also tremendous value for groups. "Mexico is an ideal destination for incentives because the airlift is so good from the U.S., Latin America, Canada, and even Europe," says Kevin Edmunds, vice president, meeting and incentive sales, Hard Rock All Inclusive Collection. "When you have participants coming from across the globe, Mexico is the perfect choice. You really do get more bang for your buck. Mexico is the mecca for all-inclusive resorts, and companies can provide a top notch incentive at a reasonable price."

All Inclusives Are Big Hits
With all-inclusive pricing, planners know upfront what they are being charged. At the Hard Rock All Inclusive Collection's two Mexico properties in Cancun and Nuevo Vallarta, just south of Puerto Vallarta, all food, beverages (liquor included), cocktail receptions, coffee breaks, meeting space, function space, taxes, tips, gratuities, non-motorized watersports, 24-hour room service, wireless Internet, and phone calls to the continental U.S. and Canada are included. A third property is slated to open at the end of 2013 in the Riviera Maya.

Genevieve Castleberry, director of incentive travel for Irving, TX-based Spear One, a company that manages full-service meetings and events, group incentive travel, sales channel incentive programs, and engagement campaigns, is a big proponent of using all-inclusive resorts for incentive groups. "They provide a worry-free scenario for planners and corporations and allow for better control of the program budget," says Castleberry. "There are numerous properties with various price points and luxury levels to fit everyone's needs. Some are more family friendly for those programs allowing young guests."

Reality Versus Perception
In recent years, Mexico has had its struggles with escalating drug violence in certain regions. After a deluge of bad press, the Mexico Tourism Board has done an impressive job of educating the media and consumers about the fact that much of the reported drug violence is 6,000 miles away from resort areas such as Cancun. That's the same distance between California and Florida. The security situation, nevertheless, still warrants some caution.

"We constantly have to share the true facts with our clients," says Castleberry. She adds that Mexico's positive attributes as an incentive destination outweigh any negatives. "Easy airlift options to Cancun with non-stop flights from major U.S. cities, great value, zero VAT for meetings, all-inclusive resorts of luxury caliber, weather, history, and culture make Mexico a powerful incentive destination," she explains.

Spear One has recently planned programs for incentive groups in destinations that include Cancun, Playa del Carmen, the Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta, and Los Cabos. With so many destinations, sophisticated hotels, and experiences to be had, it's clear that Mexico has all the components in place for a successful incentive.