ACCESS New Orleans Finalist for ADMEI Excellence in Site Visit

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December 31 2017 | News

In January 2016 potential clients visited New Orleans, meeting with three DMCs, the CVB and Hotels.  New Orleans was a tentative destination.  The prospective client was a Brazilian incentive of 1,000 guests for May 2017. 

The first site inspection was the most typical for us, where we would WOW the end clients and win over the city of New Orleans for everyone, only then we can begin to sell our DMC services.   Although a fantastic endeavor we are very accustomed to the process and do it well.   Two major challenges were never having an incentive in the US; and, the most difficult to overcome was that the client never had an incentive outside of an all- inclusive property.   Both of these preferences made the selling of the destination a major roadblock.  

For 5 days we introduced the 2 Incentive Company representatives and the 2 end client representatives to every possibility for a group of their size and criteria.  A few of the key elements of WOW factor was having a Private Second Line Parade meet them in the hotel then escort them to dinner, and a horse drawn carriage ride to dinner on another night,  and a private cocktail party in an exclusive penthouse overlooking the River, the CBD and the nightlife of Bourbon Street.

The clients loved everything and New Orleans was selected and our DMC was selected to produce the program.  

But this is just the beginning.  To complicate things further the incentive house was selected but there was still a Production Company to be selected.  The Production Company would be the ones calling all of the shots.  Both the incentive company and the DMC would be answering to the Production Company.

After the Production Company was selected in early 2016 there would be 3 more extensive site visits, one more complex than the other.

The second site inspection was in August 2016, which was the first time that the entire “team” from the Production Company and the Incentive House were visiting the city.  They wanted us to create Adventurous Activities for the program.   New Orleans is not known for its exhilarating recreation, and coming up with 1,000 possibilities for adrenalin seekers was quite difficult.  For the next 9 days, we produced a mini program with all of the possible elements presented exactly as the guests would experience them.    The cost factor was also an element of difficulty in the site visit.   The client needed exact costs before everything was approved. 

Since this was only a site visit and the program details were not yet confirmed and the vendors were not yet booked, our team had to negotiate site visit rates for 9 guests.  Many of our vendors were very leery of offering a site visit for so many people with no commitments.

Some activities we all did together and other activities our teams would break up into 3 groups and our staff and the clients would each venture out to accomplish various tasks on the site visit.

This second site visit was the most interesting and the most unique.  Many venues were visited and experienced, including the floor of the Superdome with the client’s name on the Jumbotron, which impressed them a great deal.

A few of the activities included:  City tour; Private Airboat Charter; Custom Seaplane tour to include special stops in the swamp; Pontoon Swamp Boat tour; kayaking tour on the Bayou; Bicycling and Segway tours through the French Quarter; and for the very first time ever we offered Flyboarding in Lake Pontchartrain.   The clients had come from Cabo the year before so we were skeptical that this activity would be impressive.    We have never worked with the vendor before and he just did not understand the concept of an incentive or a site visit.   The vendor kept quoting prices in front of the client and making promises to them that he later wanted to recant and put our team in a difficult situation.    This site visit had so many new vendors that we struggled with getting the DMC and site visit concepts understood.  They also went Karting in hi-speed go carts and rode along with a professional race car driver in Ferraris, Lamborghinis and GTs.  This site visit was actually very beneficial for my team since there are a very limited number of Portuguese speaking tour guides in the city, and we used the site visits as an opportunity to train them.

One of the days we arranged a day of meetings in our offices for them to meet with various vendors that they wanted to work with directly.   All of the contracts would still go through our agency but they wanted to deal with vendors directly.   Yet another first time requests for our DMC team.   But we had a day of appointments filled with decorators, printers, gift companies, and A/V production companies.

The third site inspection was in March 2017 only 2 months away from the event.   The activities were selected and confirmed.    The inclusions were tweaked and yet another team of clients was sent down to experience the activities as the guests would experience them.  Again, we had to negotiate with all of the vendors to have special site visit rate for now the 3rd time.   The clients were very detailed and hard to pin down with confirmations so the vendors were rightly guarded.

The fourth and final site visit did not include partaking in the activities, but did include someone from the marketing team going to each activity site and measuring and configuring all of the possible branding and marketing opportunities out there.   This site visit was also a run through with all of the selected vendors for events, and promotional material. ?

In the end the program was a huge success and the guests loved every activity offered.    The process was really too long and too complicated but it was what the client wanted and in typical DMC style, our team came through with shining colors.  

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