Kate Galloway, MD and Owner at K&N Travel Associates.
ARTICLE PUBLISHED 21/01/2021
In the first of our new partner interview series, we spoke with Kate Galloway, MD and Owner at K&N Travel Associates.
We asked Kate about the current landscape for the incentive market and how K&N Travel Associates is working with its partners to ensure that offerings are safe for when people can visit Scotland again.
2020 has been a tough year for everyone, have you learnt any lessons from this difficult year that you will implement into your plans going forward?
It has been a very difficult year, but we have learnt to focus on the things that matter. Pandemics may not be within our control but helping others and being kind is. We are all in this together and collectively, if we support each other, we will all benefit going forward.
In a recent SITE survey, 63% of the US incentive market believed that demand will be back to 2019 levels by next year. Do you believe this is true for Scotland’s incentive market?
I don’t know at what point the SITE survey was taken but as the Covid situation continues to evolve rapidly, I would be astonished if the same result would be returned today. I wouldn’t be surprised if it took until 2022 for demand to return to 2019 levels and even then, that needs to convert to actual bookings for us. I think Scotland will follow the pattern that clients from most countries predict: that domestic travel will increase first, followed by international travel.
Have you taken any bookings for 2021 and beyond? Which countries are you seeing interest from?
Yes, we have confirmed bookings up to 2023 and several requests pending. The confirmations are from events which were moved from 2020/2021 and are mainly comprised of global associations with HQ’s in USA, plus some incentive groups from USA, South America and mainland Europe.
What are the main concerns from buyers and organisers? How are you working with your partners to ensure that their offering is suitable for the current market?
From buyers we are seeing concerns with air access, especially when it comes to what routes will be reinstated and when. There are lots of other questions being asked too:
- Can we guarantee Scotland is a covid ‘safe’ destination?
- What if someone contracts Covid when they are here?
- If they have to, can they cancel at short notice and still be refunded?
- Will all partners on the program have had the vaccine?
- Will there still be social distancing/mask wearing/testing in place?
- What will the ‘incentive’ experience be like dining in a fine dining restaurant for example?
- How can their carbon footprint be minimised or how can their trip be made more sustainable?
- Are they getting the best value for money by choosing Scotland?
We are working with partners on all the above points and are collaborating together on how to show clients rather than just tell them how it will be. Many suppliers have developed virtual show rounds of their venues and experiences and this information helps convince that the offering is suitable.
Are you seeing any themes in the incentive market going into 2021?
Yes, smaller group sizes and a focus on health and wellbeing. Not just for the body, but the mind too.
Luxury spa breaks are important, but the approach should be holistic, for the mind and soul. Mindfulness, yoga, forest bathing, breathing pure fresh air, connecting with nature – all of which we have in abundance in Scotland.
Themes also include pushing boundaries – exercise in the great Scottish outdoors and experiencing it in a ‘greener’ way – a day’s walk with a ranger for example, ending at a local pub using local produce to create authentic Scottish dishes and meeting the local musicians.
Sustainability and corporate social responsibility are closely linked. Buyers want their groups to experience the artisan and craft industries including local food and drink – from creating a unique whisky cocktail at a distillery to watching the lobster being reeled in and cooked on board a private boat.
What is your advice for buyers and event organisers wanting to bring their events to Scotland in 2021 and beyond?
Scotland is a small country with a big heart and everywhere you go, you will experience the warmth of Scottish hospitality first-hand. Our beautiful and vibrant major cities have the airports and infrastructure for larger events but we urge clients to consider heading to our provinces too – take the train and witness some of the world’s top railway journeys, there’s so much to experience.
The regions offer unique examples of Scottish culture and way of life; from local foraging and cooking classes, to bushcraft survival skills and watching a sheep dog bring in the sheep. Many communities have their own annual show with local produce, crafts and activities for all to enjoy.
About K&N Travel Associates
K&N Travel Associates, founded by Kate Galloway in 1997, work with companies and agencies looking to outsource their Incentive Travel Programmes and Business Events to an experienced partner. With offices in Edinburgh K&N Travel can manage the entire event management process, throughout the UK. From globally recognised association meetings of 4000, special interest groups, conferences, Incentive Groups, to intimate dinners.