Automotive and retail sectors have replaced the pharmaceutical industry as the top chartered airline users, as a value-driven ethos sees event organisers eschew more high-profile destinations for secondary locations such as Deauville and Dubrovnik.
Paul Argyle, director, commercial jets UK division for air charter broker and royal warrant holder Air Partner, said: “Pressured by the need to always better their previous event or incentive, planners are coming up with excellent but more elaborate ideas and then trying to fit transportation requirements into that picture. Not in every case, but this approach often dramatically increases costs.
“Planners need to balance the innovation they show to every part of trip, including flights. Today, everything has to be wrapped around a serious budget.”
Speaking to meetpie.com, Argyle noted recurrent trends in the industry, including shorter trips and lead times: “2012’s been an interesting year. Things still are not on top form, but there is business. It is different to what was two years ago when we might have booked destinations such as Malaga, but rather now it is secondary, even tertiary, markets such as Deauville (France) and Dubrovnik (Croatia) that are of interest. The key points are that travel involving flights is more value conscious and has to be conducted for serious business reasons.
“The automotive industry is holding up, but there is a discernable lack of activity in sales and pharma conferences. Off to secondary markets are drinks companies, but less from those in the alcohol market, more from those in soft drinks. We also have seen business from the perfume industry, with one company even painting and branding its charter aircraft.”
Argyle’s list of other planner considerations includes:
Value – to reduce costs, negotiate all aspects of the flight. Planners are even negotiating over whether to have plane seat head rest covers or not.
Justification – if a European or farther flung destination is involved, increase the justification for it by not visiting a casino but perhaps a school, where the group can make an impact and offset shareholder and economic concerns.
Hardware – Plan ahead. Not so long ago, there might have been half a dozen UK air companies that could provide charters, but now companies such as Air Partner are having to search for charters across all of Europe.
Numbers versus destination – The air portion of any trip is a large part of the overall cost. Planners need to look at what gives the best value and sense right from the beginning. If the group is of 40 people, then Tenerife, for instance, is too far. Get the wrong aircraft and the costs soon explode.
Time of year – There remains competitive shoulder seasons where more value can be obtained.
Air Partner, based at Gatwick Airport, organises bespoke charters and aviation solutions for groups of every size. Clients include the conference and incentive industry, governments and humanitarian aid missions such as last year’s emergency evacuation flights, which moved more than 12,000 people in just six weeks, from across Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.
Pictured: Paul Argyle