Destination Management Companies (DMCs) are no strangers to solving challenges and designing first-rate incentive programmes based in Northern Ireland. For this experience, the clients were already familiar with Ireland after a 2011 programme that took them to Killarney and Dublin, so the brief called for something new and exciting. With that in mind, Odyssey International developed an itinerary that would offer the high-end activities the agency was looking for.
Working closely with Caitriona Lavery of the Hastings Hotel Group, Odyssey International organised joint visits to the agency offices, and meetings at US IMEX. A successful site inspection proved that Belfast was ready to charm delegates with a combination of luxury accommodation options and a tailored range of unique day and evening activities. By sharing knowledge and building up trust, the bid for this incentive was successful and the programme was launched, unveiling Northern Ireland as its top destination.
Most delegates arrived via multiple flights into Belfast City Airport, where staff members were immediately helpful with coach parking and passenger pick-up. On arrival in Northern Ireland, guests were treated to their first experience of the region’s hospitality, with a welcome reception at the beautiful five star Culloden Estate and Spa — fine food and Irish entertainment offered a promising introduction to all that was in store.
Day two began with a business session, but the afternoon took a more magical turn on a tour of one of the Game of Thrones® film locations. Castle Ward, aka “Winterfell” was an outstanding success, catering for 5 groups of 32 visitors rotating through five activities. That evening, a magnificent banquet was laid on in a giant tepee, providing the perfect conclusion to a day of fantasy.
Day three saw guests choosing from a range of activities — a golf or spa day, a city tour to include Belfast City Hall and St. Georges Market, or the chance to explore the Causeway Coastal Route. The Northern Ireland Culinary Experience was oversubscribed (a testament to the delicious local food and drink that delegates had already enjoyed) so two parallel tours were arranged in response. A gala dinner and awards ceremony were held at Titanic Belfast, voted the World’s Leading Visitor Attraction in 2016.
Day four began with a transfer by road to Dublin with a stopover for lunch and a visit to the Guinness Storehouse. Next, a private train to Limerick was scheduled, enabling guests to spend two nights at the five star Dromoland Castle in Clare.
All the delegates were impressed with the quality of accommodation and range of gourmet artisan food throughout their visit to Northern Ireland. Described by one delegate as "an experience, not a tour!", Northern Ireland Food Tours culinary tour was a particular success. The incentive programme accomplished what it set out to achieve — a unique, engaging and memorable experience that perfectly suited the requirements of this group.