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Using Tourism as an Incentive Marketing Tool

By Dr. Peter Tarlow
December 2012

Even in a period of economic uncertainty, many people still go through the December dilemma of what to give for Christmas or Chanukah.   In fact December has so much gift giving that ironically a major problem for many in the more affluent lands is: what to give.  So many people have so much, that additional things almost become burdens rather than mementos, and the gift giving becomes part of a ritual in which we spend money for spending's own sake rather than finding a spiritual purpose in our giving of gifts.  One way around this problem may be through the gift of travel.  There are numerous ways that you can give a travel gift.

Most travel agencies are more than happy to work with someone considering giving the gift of travel.  Another and perhaps easier way to give a travel gift is by simply transferring air or hotel points to the person receiving the gift.  Lastly especially for locales that have their off-season in December, encouraging people to give a gift of travel not only helps the gift receiver, but also serves to help the community.  Before giving the gift of travel remember that to do the following:

Encourage businesses to give the gift of travel through incentive travel opportunities.  Now in time of economic recession, this form of reward may be appreciated more than ever.  Incentive travel comes in many forms.  Businesses use incentive travel to create friendly competition among their employees with the hope that this competition will lead to greater sales.  An ever-growing number of individuals give the gift of travel to the person who has or find it a good way to use frequent flier miles. 

Use loyalty programs as part of the gift of travel.  Loyalty programs are another form of incentive travel in which the more one travels the better (at least hypothetically) the traveler is treated.  Still another form of incentive travel is to a particular event, such as a sporting event or concert. In this case, it is essential to know that the people competing for this travel experience want to attend the concert or sporting event.

Incentive travel works.  An American newspaper studied the gift of travel and found that: 
93% of award recipients prefer travel over other incentives - USA Today survey
91% of North Americans take a vacation every year - US Travel Data Center (everyone enjoys travel)

Travel has a much higher perceived value than other incentives.

Help the people receiving the gift of travel to get the best from the gift by:

Making the travel gift both age and personality appropriate.  There are those people who love cruises and those who hate them, there are cruises that are merely floating parties, and cruises meant to be photographic safaris.  Each of these cruises has a different set of clientele. Like in any other gift, make sure that your gift is appropriate for the person to whom you are giving the gift.
Make the gift match the receiver's agenda and not yours.  It does not matter what you like or think the other person ought to like, and make sure that your travel gift reflects the receiver's lifestyle rather than yours.

Help people to develop lists of "to take" and "not-to-take".  Travel hassles may begin at the airport but they can go far beyond airport security lines.  Knowing what to take, what type of camera is best to have, what the shape of an electric plug will be and if the place to where you are traveling used 110 or 220 electrical voltage can be a major help and avoiding travel hassles and making travel fun.

Use the gift of travel even if you cannot afford to pay for the entire travel experience.  Give the gift of travel as a combined gift or a travel gift certificate.  If doing the latter, make sure that the recipient was going to go to this location and can afford his/her part of the cost.  However be careful of travel certificates, many of them come with pre-existing conditions and a whole host of rules and regulations. Always know the travel certificate's details.
If considering giving a trip outside of your country, make sure that the person has a passport.  Remember that even when traveling by sea or car to a foreign destination, in many places citizens need a passport to go from country X to country Y, If the person who is to receive the gift does not own a passport, consider giving a travel gift within his or her own country.
Always allow the gift receiver to determine which dates will work for him/her/them and which dates will become a problem.  Remember that airlines prices can very greatly so if you give an open ended ticket be prepared for a great deal of price variations. This problem is avoided by using air miles.
Provide the person with a listing of internet sites.  The internet provides not only information but also a way to share travel experiences and to create e-travel relationships.   In this manner the gift of travel goes beyond the confines of time and space and allows travel to become the entranceway into a whole host of new experiences.

Make sure that the person receiving the gift has an opportunity to share these memories with once he/she has returned home.  Travel is more than merely seeing and doing new things.  It is also about sharing memories and creating brilliant results by letting someone else know that you care.

Happy Traveling and Merry Christmas/Happy Chanukah/and Happy Holidays!

About the Author:
Dr. Peter E. Tarlow is the President of T&M, a founder of the Texas chapter of TTRA and a popular author and speaker on tourism. Tarlow is a specialist in the areas of sociology of tourism, economic development, tourism safety and security. Tarlow speaks at governors' and state conferences on tourism and conducts seminars throughout the world and for numerous agencies and universities.

If you know of anyone else who might enjoy "Tourism Tidbits," please send his/her email address to, Please let us know of any topic that you would like to see covered by "Tourism Tidbits." We invite others to submit articles for consideration for publication.

All questions about "Tourism Tidbits", suggestions, or cancellations should be addressed to Dr. Peter E. Tarlow at

Dr. Peter Tarlow
1218 Merry Oaks,
College Station, Texas, 77840-2609, USA.
Telephone: +1 (979) 764-8402

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Also See: Tourism Security as a Marketing Tool / Dr. Peter Tarlow / November 2012

Tourism and the Law / Dr. Peter Tarlow / October 2012

Accepting Tourism Responsibility, Doing Due Diligence and Setting Standards of Care / Dr. Peter Tarlow / September 2012

Tourism and Good Health: Medical Tourism / Dr. Peter Tarlow / August 2012

Tourism Tidbits - Developing a Tourism Continuity Plan / Dr. Peter Tarlow / June 2012

Tourism Tidbits - How Can Your Guests Be Sure They Are Safe? / Dr. Peter Tarlow / May 2012

Tourism Tidbits - Protecting the Female Traveler / Dr. Peter Tarlow / September 2011

Tourism Tidbits - A Checklist for Producing Great Events / Dr. Peter Tarlow / January 2011

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