Tracy Waters is a telemark-skiing, hiking, mountain biking events manager at XanGo based in Salt Lake City. The juice and wellness company’s global convention, Go Premier, and Xalo gatherings have her regularly planning meetings around the world. Waters recently hosted a sales meeting in Mexico City and took two different groups to Phuket, Thailand (shown): the first, a band of North Americans, many more than 50 years old, on an incentive trip. The second was a crew of Mexican adventure travelers below 30 years old. Explore her field notes:
> Get the real story. I thoroughly research the country where we’re going, and it’s worth the time. Everyone thinks Mexico City is unsafe, but that’s a misconception. It has a vibrant culture, amazing food and is a huge metropolis.
> Customize the experience. For the North American group, we booked the luxury JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa, a brand they were familiar with outside the city that had all the creature comforts of home. For the Mexican group, we stayed at a family-run, 40-room boutique hotel in the city that had a traditionally Thai design aesthetic. They wanted a more authentic experience.
> Forgo the site visit. They can be extremely expensive. Instead, I planned [both Phuket events] at IMEX with a trustworthy destination management company I see every year at the conference. Ask DMCs for hotel recommendations, as they play the CVB role internationally. I went to IBTM America this year as well and met many Spanish DMCs to plan another trip to Mexico City.
> Be ready for anything. In Mexico City, the doors to the convention center opened at 7 a.m., and at 6:30 a.m. I was cleaning bathrooms. They don’t see the importance of a clean restroom like Americans do, so be ready for things like that. Of the 12 ushers provided by the property, only four were there when we began. I had to move some of my people into position until they arrived. They’re culturally different about time than we are, and you’re not going to change that.
> Don’t get lost in translation. I paid $800 a day for a translator. It’s not a small fee, but it’s a must. I speak French, but I got myself into ridiculous situations not speaking Spanish previously.