Categories: travel trade

Case Study 1: Moloney Kelly & Maritz
DMC: Moloney & Kelly
LOCATIONS: Down & Wicklow
DELEGATES: 3 groups of 160
CLIENT: Maritz

Every year, Maritz delivers many incentive programmes around the world, curating a range of exclusive experiences designed to motivate and reward their clients’ employees. Ireland has proven a popular choice in the past, but this year the brief to Moloney & Kelly requested something truly impressive to foster a spirit of camaraderie and fun.

The Countryside Escapes incentive programme was developed by Moloney & Kelly around some of Northern Ireland’s most stunning locations and exceptional hotels, each one providing its own kind of ‘wow’ factor.

Mourne Mountains

After their arrival into Dublin Airport, guests made the short 90-minute journey northwards to the stunning Slieve Donard Resort and Spa in County Down. One of their very first impressions of the memorable experience they were about to embark on was the beautiful vista of the Mountains of Mourne, sweeping down to the sea.

Hillsborough Castle

The following day, guests were given private access to the residence of the Queen in Northern Ireland, Hillsborough Castle. After soaking in the grandeur of this historic landmark in total exclusivity, they spent a leisurely evening in Newcastle, a charming seaside resort in County Down.

Titanic Belfast

The pace picked up on day three, with the opportunity to spend a full day exploring the many cosmopolitan and historic delights of the city of Belfast. Guests chose from a range of fascinating options, including the world-famous Titanic Belfast (voted the World’s Leading Visitor Attraction 2017), the Panoramic Tour of the city and the unique Black Taxi Tour.

Winterfell at Castle Ward

That night, a glorious feast was prepared for the group at Winterfell Castle, as seen in Game of Thrones®; the majestic Castle Ward in County Down doubles up as a film location used in one of the most watched TV shows in the world. Guests were immersed in a medieval world with Game of Thrones® -themed activities and costumes (the throne itself proved extremely popular for selfies.) It was a highlight of an experience that took in the true scope of luxurious incentive opportunities that Northern Ireland can provide.

Client feedback on Countryside Escapes was universally positive, with repeat visits in the pipeline. Guests particularly appreciated the opportunity to pre-clear U.S Customs and Border Control at Dublin Airport — arriving back as domestic passengers into the U.S and enjoying shorter flight connections, less hassle and stress on their return.

Amy Marxer, Maritz Meeting and Event Manager, commented: “Our client chose Newcastle in Northern Ireland based on its proximity to the sea and the city. The groups were able to enjoy the beauty of the seaside in Newcastle and the excitement and history of Belfast all within the same trip.”

Case Study 2: Bespoke Northern Ireland & Singapore VIP Group
 DMC: Bespoke Northern Ireland
LOCATIONS: Down & Antrim
CLIENT: Business Group

Northern Ireland is tailor-made for unforgettable golfing experiences, as this golf-loving VIP incentive group from Singapore were soon to find out. Arising out of a Meet in Ireland IMEX Frankfurt encounter, this opportunity gave destination management company (DMC) Bespoke Northern Ireland the chance to persuade the client that a grand tour of Northern Irish golf courses could be seamlessly combined with a range of other exclusive experiences.

Based in Northern Ireland, Bespoke Northern Ireland offered the client their extensive experience, local contacts and insider expertise. At an early stage of the bidding process for the incentive programme, they quickly realised that the various demographics within the one corporate group could pose a challenge — ranging in age from 30 to 80, every member having different interests.

While many in the group enjoyed playing golf and everyone prioritised fine local cuisine, there were also those eager for sightseeing, history and culture. The entire experience would need to embody luxury and exclusivity, to match the expectations of this high-achieving group. As a result, an itinerary was developed around Northern Ireland’s world-class, bucket-list golf courses, with plenty of historical and cultural outings to achieve the right balance.

Royal Portrush Golf Club

Fortunately, Northern Ireland’s pre-eminent greens are located in glorious surroundings, close to an abundance of activities, food producers, stately homes and luxurious hotels. Castlerock and Royal Portrush golf courses set the bar high in the first few days. Located on the Coastal Causeway Route, Royal Portrush is a challenging course, but the relaxing, picturesque setting helped to keep visitors’ spirits high. This was the venue for The 148th Open in 2019.

A morning spent learning about Derry-Londonderry’s history and culture gave the group an appetite for freshly-caught crab, homemade scones and local craft beer at the Walled City Brewery. That night, guests relaxed in a series of luxurious suites at the Everglades Hotel, with some lucky guests enjoying the sumptuous surrounds of the Presidential Suite. The nearby Causeway Coastal Route — a stunning trail hugging the Atlantic coast from Derry-Londonderry to Belfast — offered participants the chance to explore the Giant’s Causeway, and enjoy a private Bushmills Whiskey tasting experience with the Master Blender.

The superbly located Royal County Down Golf Club was the group’s next destination, the naturally beautiful setting at the foot of the Mourne Mountains making rounds of golf unforgettable.

Mount Stewart

On the menu that night were local Northern Irish seaweeds (Dulse and Yellowman), as well as premium Bushmills Irish whiskey. History and culture beckoned at National Trust properties Mount Stewart and Castle Ward — the latter famous across Asia as the filming location for the “Winterfell” castle, featured in hit fantasy TV series Game of Thrones®. That night, the royal theme continued, as guests were transferred to luxury suites at the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa in the picturesque coastal town of Newcastle. Breath-taking sea views from the infinity pool helped to make the stay special for the whole team.

Titanic Belfast

Gourmet food lovers were spoiled for choice in Belfast, with an exclusive Captain’s Banquet feast laid on at Titanic Belfast, voted the World’s Leading Visitor Attraction in 2017. As part of a food tour of County Down, guests were also brought to the fairytale-like Killyleagh Castle, where they discovered the history of chocolate and its invention by the polymath Hans Sloane. Meanwhile, the golfers in the group had the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy at the country’s oldest club, the Royal Belfast.

Client feedback was universally positive. “Bespoke Northern Ireland understood the needs and culture of the Asian market. The itinerary was creatively designed around outstanding local products that were varied, interesting and authentic. Our VIP clients thoroughly enjoyed themselves,” said Eileen Phua, Director of Sales for MICE, Dynasty Travel.

Case Study 3: Wallace Group & US Incentive House
DMC: Wallace Group
LOCATION: Belfast.

Incentive programmes are the perfect opportunity to showcase the spirit and warmth of Northern Ireland to a global audience. In this case, the brief for Wallace Travel Group called for a traditional incentive programme with elements of culture and activities, designed for an intimate group of just 18 VIPs.

A creative proposal prepared by Wallace Travel Group secured the business, with Meet in Ireland providing invaluable support and funding for a site inspection of both Dublin and Belfast.

The hotel chosen for this special experience was the five star luxury destination — Culloden Estate and Spa in County Down, overlooking Belfast Lough. The client was blown away by the quality of the hotel and impressed with the fact that Northern Ireland was a largely new discovery for most of their VIPs. One of the incentive participants had Northern Irish heritage, a fact which also helped to win them over!

After their arrival into Dublin Airport, the VIP group took a coach to Northern Ireland. After checking into the majestic Culloden Estate and Spa, they were treated to an informal welcome dinner in the Cultra Inn, with a harpist playing in the background — a gentle introduction to the delights of Northern Ireland.

Giant's Causeway

The next day the guests visited UNESCO World Heritage site the Giant’s Causeway and the famous Bushmills Distillery for an interactive guided tour. They had lunch at the distillery before returning to Belfast for a relaxing coach tour of the city, enjoying an evening of fine dining in the city.

Bushmills Distillery

The next day was one allocated for exploration and discovery of Belfast and the surrounding region, with the coach and guide at the group’s complete disposal. That evening, a delicious farewell dinner in the Drawing Room of the Culloden Estate and Spa was organised, with entertainment provided by a duo of Irish musicians. The group then bid farewell to an unforgettable experience in Northern Ireland and caught their flights back to the U.S from Dublin Airport.

Belfast City Hall

Looking back, the U.S incentive house representatives have glowing feedback on their client’s Northern Irish experience:

“It was the warmth and energy of the Irish people that made the country so comfortable, yet exciting for our people. I want to give enormous credit to our DMC, Wallace Travel Group —they gave us the local knowledge and creative spark that resulted in a programme that was a very special treat for each of our guests.”