Mastering the Magic of CubaIncentive Programs
Provide attendees with a culturally immersive experience.
Our client’s vision for their first-ever incentive program was an experience both unexpected and adventurous. As a destination, Cuba offered both and much more. Planning and executing this once-in-a-lifetime trip taught us that sometimes the challenges of an emerging destination are what make it truly special.
We agreed Havana, Cuba was a great match for our client’s desire to stay far from typical beach resorts and truly explore a different culture. We also knew that, having just opened to U.S. travelers, a trip into the heart of Cuba would hold logistical challenges we couldn’t yet imagine.
Our planning began a full year in advance, with a scouting trip to find partnerships, lodging and activities. The famed Cuban Opera House, the Gran Teatro, was our client’s top choice for a dinner venue, but they refused our request multiple times, despite offers of flexible dates and budget. With earnest persistence, and in collaboration with our local partner, we explained our client’s sincere appreciation for true cultural experiences. And finally, our request was granted.
With only the local markets to turn to for ingredients, and no guarantees on what might be available in large quantity, we relied on the partnerships we’d developed to come up with high end results, while also managing our client’s expectation that surprise menus might be part of the cultural adventure.
By the end of it all, we’d learned many important lessons, like managing import restrictions by sourcing distinctive gifts from local artisans, or how to fulfill U.S. government requirements with cultural delights like cigar, coffee, rum, and chocolate pairings. Most important, we learned to give in to the ways and whims of Cuba. Which, in the end, provided our client the uniquely rich cultural journey they’d hoped for.
- Buying water and wine in bulk is an impossibility. It’s a strict “one bottle per person, per day” policy for water, procured only at the local market, with similar restrictions on wine. With over 100 guests confirmed for the trip, we set a plan in motion for a local team to buy and store what we needed, one bottle at a time.
- Despite the inability to plan menus in advance, attendees were treated to authentic, only-in-Cuba cuisine that will be remembered far longer than typical travel fare.
- Budget management & final reconciliation
- Vendor selection & contracting
- Strategic sourcing & contract negotiation
- Food & beverage planning
- Air travel & ground transportation
- Registration & technology solutions
- VIP programs
- Branding, swag, giveaways, collateral
- Evening & offsite events