We have had several blog posts on Familiarization Trips about specific destinations for corporate travel planning and travel agent fams but we wanted to add a beginner guide on the general topic of corporate trip planning to Mexico and the Carribean. We get a lot of questions about corporate travel planning and travel agent education and we are happy to impart knowledge where we can. First, we will cover corporate travel planning and the concept of MICE. Then we will explore ways of researching and finding good destinations. Lastly we provide a list of corporate travel hotels and convention centers to consider. This is meant to be a guide for travel agents who are planning a destination trip on behalf of a company. It is not every piece of information you will need but it is a good starting for corporate travel planners.
What is MICE?
In the corporate travel planning world, MICE stands for meetings, incentives, conferences, and events. We will look at each one of these niches and try to identify the nuances to planning these. The first two breakdowns of meetings and incentives lend themselves to a variety of creative spaces whereas the latter two potentially could require larger spaces.
Meetings and Incentives
Incentives, for those who don’t know, refers to incentive trips. Incentive trips are awarded to employees based on some sort of achievement. For instance, a typical incentive trip would be for high performing sales performers within a company. Meeting and incentive trips can be tailored to strictly business, to team building, to relaxation, to education or to a combination of the above. Traveling for meetings and incentives allows employees to take a break from the normal stresses of work and the typical line of thought. It allows employees to think outside the box and create new or different relationships with colleagues.
Incentive trips might be best suited for hotels which offer adventure or team building activities. Meetings can fall into a variety of categories. Meetings can be for team building, strategic retreats, leadership development, employee education, experiential training or for a host of other reasons. Some hotels which have a corporate focus, have the same type of feel in Mexico. For instance, the Hyatt Ziva Cancun offers a laid back Mexico attitude with modern facilities that would make many hotels in New York jealous.
One nice thing about Mexico and the Carribean is the shear amount of all-inclusive options. Just like planning a destination wedding, all-inclusive makes planning meals and alternative events much easier. Along with having planned meals there is also the opportunity for happenstance meetings and encounters at on-site food and entertainment locations which will help generate relationship opportunities. Before choosing your Mexico business meeting location, identify the types of activities, content and programs you will be having and the best types of space to facilitate these meetings.
When planning incentive travel, there are some important things to remember. Always have a goal for your trip. Many may view the incentive trip as a chance to relax and reap the rewards of the incentive reached but remember that you have some of your most important employees and clients in one place and it is important to establish a goal for your incentive trip. Also remember to plan in advance of your trip and figure out how you are going to put on a good face for your brand. You will have many touchpoints on your incentive trip and this is a great place to strengthen relationships and put on a great face for your company.
Conferences and Events
I have a discussed corporate conference and events previously on this blog. I will try to sum up most of this information. Mexico and the Carribean offer a host of conference destinations. Mexico alone has over 71 major conference locations. The biggest convention center in the region however, belongs to Guadalajara. Guadalajara’s Expo Guadalajara is one of the largest convention centers in Latin America with its 1,030,429 square feet of convention, meeting and expo space. There are a host of comfortable and professional indoor spaces in this region and also beautiful outdoor space to give professionals space for their minds to explore.
Some considerations when planning your destination conference in Mexico or the Carribean are:
- Does the location have a CVB team (conventions and visitor bureau team)?
- What is the public transportation like (buses, trains, taxis)
- How far is your location from a major airport?
- Does the location have international appeal?
- How many hotels or conference venues are needed to support your event?
- Are there additional activities in town?
- Is it in season or off season?
The Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan boasts the largest convention space in the Carribean with a total space of 580,000 sq. ft., including a 152,000-square-foot exhibition hall and 39,500-square-foot ballroom. This convention center provides great access to the medical manufacturing community which is situated throughout the area.
How do I research Mexico and Carribean Destinations for corporate travel?
The best way to do research is take a familiarization trip and experience all of the locations first hand 🙂 If you aren’t able to make the trek or you have a client that would like information fast the next step is to reach out to the local tourism bureau, any tourism agency is happy to assist corporate events. Within Mexico and the Carribean the most prepared and informative group is Cancun. They are also capable of supporting the largest conferences. At the end of the day, it all depends on what type of event you are putting on and the types of clientele. Most large hotels will have a marketing director who will be happy to answer your questions (if you are planning for a large enough group:)). You can look up marketing individuals on the hotel website or on Linkedin.com.
When you are start researching a location make sure to consider time of year and the location you are looking at. Some areas are more prone to hurricanes during certain months of the year. Having an incentive travel trip might work into your corporate slow time but it might coincide with a poor time to travel.
If you are planning a large event, make sure to research the destination and whether or not there are large events that coincide with your event. For instance, in Riviera Maya there is an electronic music festival every January. Due to the fact that it is a somewhat smaller town, this event brings in a comparatively large group for the week. This group might not mesh with a PGA conference group. It’s just something to note.
Just liket certain parts of the US coincide with different lifestyles (San Fransisco is the tech capital, San Diego is the surf capital), so to do different areas of Mexico and the Carribean. It’s easy to read about different areas but the best way to learn is to see for yourself.
Business Traveler Considerations
Business travelers have slightly different needs and desires than the average leisure traveler. Business travelers get tax deductions for business expenses so make sure to consider the reciept process and deductible items on behalf of your visitors. Also, many business travelers, who travel alot have certain rewards cards. If you have a large groups coming from a certain company, you may want to consider planning around airlines and hotels that will honor or add to their reward status.
Corporate Travel Locations
Here is a breakdown of several corporate travel locations within Mexico and the Carribean and some of the notable attributes
World Trade Center, Willamsted, Curacao
Total space: 538,000 sq. ft., including a 23,000-square-foot exhibition hall, 7,000-square-foot auditorium and 18 meeting rooms.
Nearby hotel: The center is connected to the Clarion Hotel & Suites Curacao.
Details: Located on Piscadera Bay, the building is part of the World Trade Centers Association, a network of more than 300 facilities around the world that most famously includes the World Trade Center complex in New York City.
Atlantis Conference Center, Paradise Island, Nassau, Bahamas
Total space: 200,000 sq. ft., including three ballrooms, the largest of which is 50,000 sq. ft., 30 breakout rooms and 40,000 sq. ft. of prefunction space.
Nearby hotel: The center is part of the massive, all-inclusive Atlantis Paradise Island resort.
Details: In addition to the conference facilities, the resort, which opened in 1998, offers a 141-acre waterpark; more than 21 restaurants, bars and lounges; and the largest casino in the Caribbean.
Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Bridgetown, Barbados
Total space: 164,000 sq. ft., including a 70,000-square-foot exhibition space with marble floors and 10 meeting rooms.
Nearby hotel: Located in the Two Mile Hill area, the conference center is—not coincidentally—roughly 2 miles from the city center and most of the hotels along the shoreline.
Details: Formerly known as the Sherbourne Conference Center, the facility is undergoing a revitalization due for completion in June. When finished, the center will feature an additional 10,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, as well as a new block of office space. There is also a $3 million project in the works to shift the center’s energy needs to more renewable sources.
Meeting facility with conference room with presentation tools for up to 80 guests. Private board room with meeting equipment. 3,160 square foot oceanfront penthouse for executive retreats with ample deck space and meeting space. Various al fresco venues on property – garden and beachfront settings. Marquis available for optional rental.
For the super high-end corporate retreat, board meeting or C level team building trip why not consider renting an entire island? This resort which can accommodate up to 41 travelers was listed on the 2015 Conde Nast Traveler “Best Resorts in the Caribbean” and it’s no secret why. With activities and trails to explore this private island retreat this hotel will leave you refreshed and rejuvenated.
Montego Bay Convention Centre, Jamaica
Total space: 142,000 sq. ft., including 55,725 sq. ft. of exhibit space, an 18,000-square-foot ballroom and more than 55,000 sq. ft. of outdoor event space.
Nearby hotels: Located in the Rose Hill resort area, the center is surrounded by luxury, all-inclusive resorts, including the Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa.
Details: A relatively recent addition to the Caribbean’s meeting infrastructure, the facility opened in 2011 on 23 oceanfront acres.
Honorable mention: The convention center at the Barcelo Bavaro Hotel in the Dominican Republic’s Punta Cana region features 13 function rooms totaling 123,000 sq. ft. of space.
JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa
JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa has over 46,000 square feet of flexible venue space for your business meeting or event. Combined with the adjacent CasaMagna Marriott, they can offer over 80,000 square feet of meeting space. Their sophisticated Grand Ballroom is suited to conferences and gala events of up to 1,800 people.Venue amenities include high-speed Internet and modern audiovisual equipment.
NIZUC Resort & Spa – Cancun
Whether you’re planning a celebratory program to reward annual accomplishments or a retreat to engage with your colleagues in a refreshing setting, NIZUC is the ideal location for a business-meets-pleasure meeting. With picturesque conference rooms, luxurious accommodations, and an incredible variety of activities, they deliver an experience your team will never forget.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts – Cancun
Take advantage of the stunning ocean views at The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa, Cancun with an unforgettable event. An inspiring setting for a corporate retreat, incentive group or celebration of any kind, they offer comprehensive catering, floral and outdoor AV services for beachside events of up to 150 guests. Additionally, a small, formal conference room is available for up to 25 guests.
Hyatt Ziva Cancun features 16,000 sq. ft. of meeting, event and reception spaces with ballrooms that accomodate up to 400 guests. Our meeting spaces can be divided into 5 separate function rooms ensuring we suit all your needs. To provide even more flexibility they also provide 7 break-out rooms. For an outdoor event our roof terrace accommodates up to 200 guests who can enjoy the ocean breeze and sweeping views of Punta Cancun. Hyatt Ziva Cancun features state of the art technology. We have dedicated professional meeting and event specialists that will coordinate every detail with you. – Familiarization Trips can personally vouch for this one having attended a decent event here.
If you are marketing agent for a hotel or conference facility in Mexico or the Carribean please send a summary about your corporate travel space to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add it to this page.