MIE in the News...
The Meeting Professional
Incentive Programs are Different Now
Today's incentive travel programs reflect renewed economic confidence, but no one is partying
like it's 2006. Program Content is less lavish and more purposeful than it was before recession and perception issues clouded the landscape.
The good news is that optimism among planners is clearly on the upswing, according to the Incentive Research Foundation's (IRF) Spring Pulse Survey 2013. In that report, 56 percent of respondents- all from North America- said the economy was having a positive impact on their ability to plan and implement incentive travel programs, up from 43 percent in September 2012.
While this rising economic confidence indicates that more programs are going forward, most companies are cautious about how their incentive dollars are spent. Read More ...
Elite Traveller Magazine
Los Cabos:The World Meets at Land's End
Just a few weeks ago, all eyes were on Los Cabos as heads of state from around the world flocked to “Land’s End” for the high-powered G20 Leaders’ Summit of 2012. In the stronghold of the new 653,000-plus-square foot Convention Center, top leaders from 19 countries and the European Union discussed economic and financial strategies like job creation and green sustainability. The construction of this brand new super-venue marks a new era in Los Cabos’ meetings and events scene, which has previously hosted automotive elites like Porsche and Jaguar as well as corporate greats like Bank of America. Infrastructure aside, Los Cabos offers a wealth of cultural incentives and special activities exclusive to the region, form enthralling folklore
to whale watching adventures to mariachi spectacles. Read More...
Meeting Focus West
The Future is now
Speaking of incentives, Mexico has long been favored by many incentive companies that have created unique programs not only in the resort destinations but in cities like Oaxaca, Veracruz, Merida and Campeche.
"With all that's going on in the world people want to travel closer to home, which makes Mexico and ideal choice," says Adam Lawhorne, CEO of Chicago-based Meeting Incentive Experts. The hospitality is world-class, the widespread all-inclusive model is a perfect ROI fit for your travel dollar, and the value is absolutely there. It's still a buyer's market - and Mexico remains on sale."
Meeting Focus West
Meandering in Mexico
The Country's interior teems with options forgroup excuersions, from vast canyons to Mayan ruins.
From Colonial towns to commercial centers Mexico's interior is a lively mix of art, culture and history, all exuding a true Mexican flavor.
While cities like Guadalajara, Merida and Mexico City offer their own entertainment, they are also jumping-off points for some of the contry's most popular excursions. Here are five that cater to groups.
Names one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen-Itza reigns as one of Mexico's premier archaeological sites and one of the country's most alluring day trips. The DMC Meeting Incentive Experts offer full-day excursions for groups from Merida and other Yucatan locales.
"What we do to make it a full VIP experience is provide luxury transport, a professional guide and a video about the history of the ruins prior to everyone arriving," says Amanda Nemeth, president of the DMC.
"When we get to the site, the guide gives an overview of Mayan culture and what all the pyramis meant, and there is free time to explore the ruins." Following the tour, participants enjoy a gourmet lunch at a local restaurant.
Meeting Focus West
Rewing Them Up
Incentive planners see renewed interest in motivational programs.
Although Tough economic times are when motivation is most needed, many companies scaled back on incentive planners say companies are more willing to invest in programs geared to boost the bottom line and stay ahead of the competition.
In a recent SITE Foundation survey of incentive professionals,62 percent of the respondents said they expected to see an increase in the use of motivational travel over the next six to 12 months, while 84 percent predicted improvement over the next one to three years. To get some additional perspective, Meeting Focus West spoke with several leading incentive experts... Read More
Meeting Focus West
As resort demand rebounds, planners find that flexibility pays.
Hit the hardest of any hotel segment by perception issues and economic woes, resort hotels are finally seeing an upsurge in demand. According to an assortment of recent hotel forecasts from consultancies such as Smith Travel Research and Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC), hotels, particularly those at the top end of the scale, are poised to make a strong comeback this year and beyond.
PwC's U.S lodging forecast predicts "robust growth" this year, with ADR (average daily rate) rising 4.1 percent over 2010 levels. At luxury properties, ADR is predicted to increase by 6.3 percent.
While no one is calling it a seller's market yet - and rates still remain below their peak levels of several years ago-planners such as Adam Lawhorne, CEO of Chicago-based Meeting Incentive Experts, are finding more flexibility is required when negotiating for space at high-end resorts these days. Read More...
Novedades - Solidarity Newspaper in Mexico
Cancun, Meeting Incentive Experts with a Canadien Company brings new shoes and smiles for the best students and the ones with worst economic condition in a school in Cancun.
Adam Lawhorne, CEO of Meeting Incentive Experts, and Heather Connelley, Marketing Manager for GFS Canada, (Gordon Food Service) organized a Humanitarian program in Cancun Mexico at the Fiesta Americana Condesa Cancun All Inclusive.Participating school children attend the Cuza de Bronza School in Cancun. GFS Canada division donated 77 pairs of shoes and presented over 40 children with school materials and toothbrushes during there 2011 attendance of the Winners Circle Incentive program in Cancun Mexico. The children were transferred (courtesy of Meeting Incentive Experts) from their school to the resort via a deluxe motor coach. Upon arrival, they were greeted with a standing ovation of applause and then seated in a unique Mayan venue. Breakfast was served for the children and attendees of GFS (hosted by the Fiesta Americana Condesa Cancun All Inclusive resort). Gabriel Florero, Manager of MIE Cancun, and Jose Caballero coordinated the logistics with the Secretary of Education in Cancun for the school selection while Meeting Incentive Experts took care of the request to over 100 attendees to donate a pair of shoes for the 3rd and 4th grade students. Attendees and children were pre-matched for distribution. Thank GFS Canada for all of your support!
The Destination Experts
Across the Borders: Mexico
Value and variety make Mexico a timely choice for international agendas
Considering the challenges everyone has faced this year, that old adage about the only constant being change could easily be applied to the world of the meeting planner.
The shifts in today's marketplace have affected Mexico as much as anywhere else in the world. But the good news is that while the problems may have been great, much of the change is for the better. With renewed commitment to provide value and service, and unprecedented efforts to upgrade and expand infrastructure, Mexico has become even more competitive for those event dollars. Read More...
Successful Meetings/Mexico Supplement
Cancun, Sleek hotels, sugar-sand beaches, and luxury shopping define Cancun, Mexico's number one tourist destination and big draw for a meetings and incentives. Take it from Adam Lawhorne, president of Meeting Incentive Experts of Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., who has booked over 100 groups here. He just opened a DMC office in Cancun to take advantage of the new Cancun, he says, which is looking better than ever: "Cancun hotels are spending millions of dollars on upgrading spas, the new Aqua hotel is fantastic, there are new lounge bars and clubs on the lagoon like Harrys and La Destileria for private events, and five-star restaurants for groups." Read More...
Incentives & Meetings International
Los Cabos, at the southernmost tip of the Baja peninsula in Mexico, is often described as the place where "the desert meets the ocean." But sandwiched between those two extremes in Cabo San Lucas, San José del Cabo and the corridor between them you'll also find one of the newest and most attractive meeting and incentive destinations in the world with luxury hotels and resorts, exclusive golf courses, marinas, spas and shops. In fact, one of the key attractions of Los Cabos – comprised of a pair of fishing villages made over into a worldclass destination – is that everything is so new, according to Adam Lawhorne, President of Meeting Incentive Experts Inc. in Chicago and destination management company MEI Los Cabos. Read More...
Incentives & Meetings International
From: Barbara Shappiro
Incentives & Meetings International
Words can never truly express my very sincere appreciation to you, and your entire team – Monique, Rita, et al. – for the amazing journey into the beauty and excitement in Cabo- I know our readers will enjoy the article – and I am already sending buyers to your doorstep.-
Incentives & Meetings International
Adam Lawhorne of MIE is interviewed and considered an Expert on Team building
Inspired Team Building
Unique activities can bring groups together
By Nancy Mann Jackson
November/December 2006 (excerpts)
Why does an organizer bring a group of people to a beautiful destination thousands of miles away from home? Often, an incentive or meeting is about much more than just eating good food and having fun. There are usually a number of goals to be accomplished with a meeting or incentive; frequently, one of the most important objective is team building. And designing events that can truly build teams—helping people trust each other and learn to work together well—can be difficult. “The objective is to put together teams of people who will build camaraderie so that they can work well together when they get back to work,” says Adam Lawhorne, president of Illinois–based Meeting Incentive Experts Inc., which specializes in designing events in Mexico. While team-building events are always tricky, they can be even more difficult when different languages and cultures are involved. It can be challenging to design an event that is unusual, engaging, and gets the message across, but also allows attendees to stay within their comfort.
One of the most successful team-building events Lawhorne’s company has produced in Mexico was a beachside “boat-building tour,” designed for employees of a software company. Attendees were divided into teams of 15 people, and each was given cardboard pieces of wood, string, duct tape, balloons and plastic bags. Using the jumble of supplies, each team was instructed to “put together a boat that will float,” Lawhorne says. Attendees found the challenge both daunting and fun, as each team struggled to build a better boat than the next. “It really brings a lot of brainstorming and interesting ideas to the table,” Lawhorne says. “We really saw some leaders in each group step up to the challenge.” Although only one of 20 homemade boats floated at the end of the competition, the goals were accomplished, Lawhorne says. And not only did true teamwork take place, but it occurred at relatively low costs—no more than $100 per person, he notes. In addition to the boat-building supplies, “you can add some food and beverage to the event,” says Lawhorne. “It’s always great to have a few cocktails when people are trying to put a boat together. And you want it to be fun, not too serious.”
Guacamole Games A Mexican beachside version of the Olympic Games, “Guacamole Games” has become a popular team-building event designed by Meeting Incentive Experts. To participate, a group is divided into teams, which compete in a number of challenging but humorous events. For instance, donkey polo involves playing polo on the backs of donkeys with a broom and a ball. “Donkeys don’t like to go anywhere, so it can be pretty challenging,” Lawhorne says. Other destination-inspired games include a margarita-making contest; a tamale cooking contest; and a muchos huevos contest, a traditional sack race with a few eggs added in. “A lot of people don’t know each other when they go on an incentive, and they certainly don’t feel like a team,” Lawhorne says. “The Guacamole Games help people get to know each other and have a great time doing it.”
Adam Lawhorne of MIE is interviewed in a supplement to Successful Meetings magazine's October 4th issue...
Meet, Convene, Reward in Mexico
By Patricia Alisau
October, 2004 (excerpts)
Speaking of beach resorts-think dreamy sunsets, fragrant tropical gardens, and lush body massages-they are the perfect rewards for high achievers. If incentives are on your agenda, Mexico is ideal for pampering your clients in luxurious surroundings and at the right price, says Adam Lawhorne, president of Meeting Incentive Experts in Oakland Terrace, Ill., who's been specializing in Mexico for 12 years. "Mexico is a great country to do business in because of the value and hospitality.";
Such destinations as Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Manzanillo, Mazatlan, and Los Cabos have a magical ring and are some of the most sought after spots for incentives. Up and comers like the Riviera Maya, which is just starting to toot its horn, are adding hotels and tourist attractions faster than you can drink a cerveza.
Ninety top software performers from Chicago got to experience the Riviera Maya first hand at the allinclusive Royal Hideaway. The threenight program, which Lawhorne helped design, included a welcome reception overlooking the Caribbean with a 10-piece Mariachi band and free time to fish or golf the next day, with an optional shopping trip to Playa del Carmen. Boarding a French trimaran the last day, the group snorkeled near the Mayan ruins of Tulum, with an open bar and lunch on board, and finished with a private candlelit Italian dinner at the hotel.
"They loved the hotel and said it was the best hotel they had had for an incentive program," Lawhorne says. "They were amazed with the quality of the food and service."
Corporate & Incentive Travel Magazine...
Adam Lawhorne of MIE is extensively quoted in Corporate & Incentive Travel Magazine...
By Shelagh McNally
November, 2003 (excerpts)
"South of the border" is being rediscovered as a popular new meeting destination. Mexico offers an exciting blend of landscapes, cultures, unique and colorful attractions, exotic beach resorts, charming colonial cities, and a cosmopolitan capital. Mexico experts say diversity is one of its most alluring qualities
"Guadalajara is definitely a popular city with our attendees because it is so beautiful with great nightlife, hotels, and dining, along with shopping. The markets are incredible," says Adam Lawhorne, president of Meeting Incentive Experts based in Oakbrook Terrace, IL. Tlaquepaque and Tonalá are two famous markets filled with quality, hand-made merchandise.
As part of Mexico's heartland, Guadalajara is also famous for two distinct and popular products that have become true icons for Mexico: Tequila and Mariachi bands.
"Everyone really enjoyed the trip to the nearby town of Tequila to see precisely how tequila is made at the local factories," Lawhorne explained. "Our tour guide knew so much history about the area. Participants also enjoyed the Mariachis. They are everywhere, strolling, and singing in the streets. They really added something to the trip," explains Lawhorne.
His group stayed at the very modern but equally grand El Presidente Intercontinental Hotel. This 12-story hotel has been dubbed the "Crystal Pyramid" because of its stunning glass façade that looks beyond to the Sierra Madre Mountains.
"The Fiesta Americana arranged for a cocktail reception in the Presidential suite with Mexican food and beverages. There was a destination presentation and orientation to give attendees some ideas on optional activities. The suite itself was so gorgeous, it looked out onto the bay and everyone enjoyed having it available," says Lawhorne, discussing one of his many trips to Puerto Vallarta.
Puerto Vallarta's proximity to natural wonders also proved ideal for Lawhorne, who held teambuilding exercises in the Sierra Madre mountains. "We traveled up the mountains in Mercedes trucks to visit the Mexican families living there and to take a palapa building workshop (thatched roofs made from palm leaves.) We then did a great team-building exercise that was a tug of war over a waterfall." The company took advantage of Banderas Bay and turned a sailing trip into a valuable lesson.
"One half of the team was on one luxury sailboat, the other half on a second luxury boat. Then we had a regatta where both teams used wind power to sail out to a point on the bay. It was terrific because everyone had to work together with the captain. It really put the team together," he explained, "Puerto Vallarta is the most popular destination for incentive travel because it offers companies an excellent infrastructure."
Those looking for tranquility come to Los Cabos, the newest west coast destination located on the southernmost tip of the Baja California peninsula. The land here is stark and beautiful desert that overlooks the rugged coast along the Sea of Cortés. The peninsula ends at a rocky point known as El Arco (the arch) "It's definitely quieter in Los Cabos," says Lawhorne. "We did an executive retreat there that was really successful."
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Just a few weeks ago, all eyes were on Los Cabos as heads of state from around the world flocked to “Land’s End” for the high-powered G20 Leaders’ Summit of 2012. In the stronghold of the new 653,000-plus-square foot Convention Center, top leaders from 19 countries and the European Union discussed economic and financial strategies like job creation and green sustainability. The construction of this brand new super-venue marks a new era in Los Cabos’ meetings and events scene, which has previously hosted automotive elites like Porsche and Jaguar as well as corporate greats like Bank of America. Infrastructure aside, Los Cabos offers a wealth of cultural incentives and special activities exclusive to the region, form enthralling folklore to whale watching adventures to mariachi spectacles. Read More ...