In the Eye of a Storm – Navigating Group Incentive Travel

Judy Houhoulis | June 25, 2020

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

The annual group incentive travel program for an automotive client held at Meliá Nassau Beach Resort in early November 2019 was a great success despite the obstacles presented during the planning process.

Originally slated for Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana, the travel plans were abruptly halted when news regarding deaths of U.S. citizens in the Dominican Republic was broadcast. At this point, HMI sprang into action working with leadership at Hard Rock Hotels to mitigate potential damages due to timing and contracted terms and conditions. At the same time, other properties were contacted regarding availability to accommodate the anticipated group of 500 attendees – not an easy feat within four months of arrival. Luckily, Meliá Nassau Beach Resort was available to support the group program, but little did we know we would be faced with another potential obstacle.

In late August weather forecasts showed signs of a major hurricane moving towards The Bahamas. On September 1, 2019, the then Category 5 hurricane named Dorian, with sustained winds of 185 mph, struck the Abaco Islands and went on to strike Grand Bahama stalling just north of the territory with unrelenting winds for over 24 hours. While we were relieved to learn Dorian had not hit Nassau, the damages sustained in its neighboring islands was catastrophic. Hurricane Dorian was the most intense tropical cyclone on record to strike The Bahamas and is regarded as the worst natural disaster in the country’s history. Most structures were flattened or swept out to sea, lives were lost and over 50,000 people were left homeless.

To pay it forward, HMI respectfully requested trip-goers consider packing an item from a thoughtfully prepared list. The response was overwhelming. Many attendees arrived with a donation and then some, with some going so far as to pack an additional suitcase. The donation bins were immediately overflowing with everything on the list – diapers to deodorant, toothbrushes to towels as well as monetary donations which Meliá Nassau Beach Resort processed.

Our client noted their excitement on receipt of the notice placed inside the travel document package that was mailed out to all attendees. They were quick to offer their praise on the effort and the response by their attendees. They were so impressed they authorized a monetary donation comparable to the items collected totaling $2,500.00.

Meliá Nassau Beach Resort has been a true partner supporting our program and assisting with the delivery of donations to shelters in their community that have taken in families and children displaced by the storm. They were extremely grateful for the initiative taken by HMI Performance Incentives. Among the recipients were The Nazareth Centre and The Ranfurly Home for Children.

Through the Power of Travel, we strive to preserve the culture and traditions of local communities globally that continue to welcome our travelers to their world.

Bergit Godet-McKenzie, Director of Human Resources (left) and Katrice Nesbitt-Dames, Director of Groups & Events (right), Melia Nassau Beach Resort present a donation on behalf of HMI/Client/Attendees to Ms. Elizabeth Mackey, Administrator, The Nazareth Centre (left photo) and Mr. Alexander Roberts, Administrator, The Ranfurly Home for Children (right photo).

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