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May

Black Tomato’s David Heron on… top destination trends

David Heron, Co-head of incentive specialist Black Tomato Agency, on the hot destinations for incentives in 2018, plus why Oman, Canada and India are the ones to watch for 2019 and beyond.

What are the hottest destinations for incentive travel in 2018?
The typical client brief is looking for something new – so destinations like Nepal, Peru, Japan, Uganda have been received well so far.

Which destinations do you think will emerge as real new contenders for incentives in the next couple of years?
Oman, as it continues to improve its property and experience offerings, and Canada, due to ever improving flight connections, political security, diversity of product, and positive global press. We also expect to see more interest in India, as the miss-perception of hygiene concerns makes way for an appreciation of the incredibly luxurious and exciting product on offer.

Black Tomato recently launched a new Bolivia experience for the luxury leisure market – is this a destination that would suit incentive groups?
Bolivia could be perfect for the right group. The real standout place to visit is the Salar de Uyuni and we have already proposed in 2018 a Chile to Bolivia expedition that ended with a night on the salt flats. However, expedition is the operative word, the groups need to be on the smaller side, flexible and intrepid.

Any other trends on the luxury leisure side that you think will be picked up on the incentive side?
Getting back to nature and disconnecting (Get Lost), wellness (food, exercise, mindfulness, digital detox) and bespoke luxury camping solutions.

Which new developments or property/hotel openings are you most excited about?
We’re really excited about the new Rosewood Miramar Beach Montecito early next year – it looks like it’s going to be the perfect combination of that modern Rosewood luxury and wellness.

Closer to home, we’ve been excited about having The Barcelona EDITION as a new option for the city since it was first announced years ago.  For a younger potentially a more thrill-seeking group – we are keeping a close eye on how the new 25Hrs property in Paris shapes up. If it follows the form of its sister properties it should be an impressive alternative Parisian option. And for a step into the unknown – Design Hotels Georgian properties Rooms and Stamba Hotels could be very exciting options.

What’s the most exciting itinerary you have planned for this year?
A luxury trip to Peru for a group of 28. They’re taking in Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu but we have some surprises planned along the way. We are also planning a private island glamping retreat for a group of 300 high achievers.

What would your dream destination and itinerary be?
The Ultimate Japanese Adventure – incorporating the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Japan has become a firm favourite of ours in recent years due to the blend of truly unique experiences, incredible customer service and a destination that presents the most spectacular natural backdrop.

What does luxury mean to you?
Interacting with guests on an equal footing – it helps to break down barriers, forge relationships and create a personal experience that is hard to replicate if everything is regimented and formal. That said, we know how to read a room and if a client wants a more hands-off, formal approach then we are happy to oblige.

The personalised aspect carries through to experiences; clients want to feel that they’re experiencing an authentic version of a destination and not just the things that any tourist could do. They want experiences that they can go home and recount to friends about and be sure that no one in the room has done the same.

Luxury is about getting to really know a destination rather than a surface deep itinerary. We make that happen with exclusive access, local people and authentic immersive experiences.

For example – if you want to see into the soul of Havana, Cuba – don’t book a gala event in a hotel or bar – get invited to a resident’s house and party with the locals! That is how we show our clients the real Havana.

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