18 Jan 2018

What’s Next in Incentives? A Chat with Munich, Hamburg & The Maritim Hotels

The future looks bright for incentives and Germany is bringing on memorable experiences for top performers


The SITE Index 2018 shows Incentive Travel budgets are continuing to grow … great news for cities and hoteliers around the world -- including in Germany.

To learn more about what sets Germany apart for incentive travel and to talk trends, we caught up with Florian Gerdes of the Hamburg Convention Bureau, Mark Spivey of the Maritim Hotels and Janine David-Steinhart of the Munich Convention Bureau. 

© Hamburg Convention Bureau
© Hamburg Convention Bureau

Florian Gerdes
Hamburg Convention Bureau

© Maritim Hotels
© Maritim Hotels

Mark Spivey
Maritim Hotels

© München Tourismus: David-Steinhart
© München Tourismus: David-Steinhart

Janine David-Steinhart
Munich Convention Bureau

GCB Q. How is incentive travel evolving?

Hamburg A. We’re seeing longer stays – up to a week plus -- and multiple cities like combining Hamburg and Berlin with Copenhagen or other Scandinavian destinations. People want a rich and varied experience. 

Maritim A. We’re also working with more than one city for many incentive trips. Combining Berlin and Dresden with Prague and Budapest, or Amsterdam, for example, is becoming more common.

Munich A. In Munich, we’re increasingly seeing that incentive travelers want to get a true local and personalized experience. They want to be connected to the city or town they are visiting and the local people there, and they also want customized, personalized experiences that feel special. This can be achieved through VIP tours, unique, & local speakers, local craft beer tastings, yodeling seminars or city-based CSR initiatives. We want our guests to walk away from their time in Munich feeling true "Bavarian Gemütlichkeit" (warm hospitality.) 

GCB Q. What geographic markets are spurring incentive growth for you?

Maritim A. Incentive trips to Germany from the US and North American are trending up as well as the number of South American and Indian incentive visitors. The Chinese market, however, is where we’re seeing the largest growth. For example, this summer we welcomed a group of 2,700 Chinese incentive travelers to our Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich properties. Tightly organized by the city CVBs and the GCB office in China the trip featured cruises on the Rhine, trips to OUTLETCITY for shopping, Mercedes & Porsche museum visits, and a castle event and private Beer Festival.

Hamburg A. We are also seeing an uptick in incentive travel in Hamburg. Many mid-size incentive groups are coming from neighboring countries like Scandinavia and Benelux and growth is also being seen from the UK and US as well.

Munich A. We are experiencing a rise in demand for high-class luxury incentives in Munich, including for example, helicopter flights from Munich to the Alps and back. Also large groups from China and Asia-Pacific-Region are very interested in the historical background of the city and its surroundings as well in high-class shopping at Maximilianstraße - Munich’s high end shopping, gallery, dining and lodging street.

Maritim Stuttgart is a quick ride to OUTLETCITY

© OutletCity Metzingen
© OutletCity Metzingen

GCB Q. What unique Incentives can people expect to experience in your city or in select cities via your hotels?

Munich A. In Munich there are lots of sports and innovation themed incentives. A few examples are:

climbing the roof at the Olympic stadium (home to ‘72 Olympic games), and then “flying” across the stadium on the Flying Fox zip line;  creating your own Bavarian Olympic events  and then visiting the world famous Hofbräuhaus to celebrate victory and team building; or getting behind the wheel with the BMW Driving Experience -- always a huge crowd pleaser.

Maritim A. We have a Maritim Catering arm that specializes in events at unique venues close to our hotels. In Berlin for example, the U3 Metro Station and Tunnels and the Crown Prince’s Palace are memorable. The Becks Brewery in Bremen and the Hennef Abbey near Bonn are also really different.

Hamburg A.  Hamburg incentives are truly varied. You can do a water theme with Elbe River cruises, harbor tours, making chocolate and tasting spices along scenic canals in the UNESCO awarded warehouse district the Speicherstadt, or sailing and paddle boarding on the Alster Lakes. We’re also only 45 minutes from the dramatic Baltic Sea coastline. For lovers of the Arts, Hamburg features the new Elbphilharmonie concert hall as well as opera and the John Neumeier Ballet Company. There’s also the St. Pauli and Schanze districts with eclectic boutique, flea market and antique shopping; the elegant Jungfernstieg boulevard for the luxury shopper; and of course the Reeperbahn that brings together music and theatre, poker and dining in a fun and funky experience. Speaking of dining, there are also now 11 Michelin Star restaurants in Hamburg, making it a real haven for gourmets.

Olympic Stadium Roof Tour in Munich

© GCB Linda Nuss
© GCB Linda Nuss

Sailing on the Alster Lakes in Hamburg

© Hamburg Convention Bureau
© Hamburg Convention Bureau

BMW World in Munich

© GCB Linda Nuss
© GCB Linda Nuss

Maritim Guests can go on "safari"

© East Car Tours GmbH & Co. KG.
© East Car Tours GmbH & Co. KG.

GCB Q. What new things are on the horizon for incentives in your city or at your properties for 2018 and beyond?

Maritim A. We are working with Audi in Inglostadt (home of their headquarters) to create a new Maritim hotel that will provide a home away from home for innovation, and automotive & mobility enthusiasts and experts.

Munich A. There are always lots of new, exciting possibilities for incentive groups in Munich. 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the Free State of Bavaria so it would be fun to set up a Bavarian themed incentive trip including an Isar River rafting trip and a customized Bavarian Olympics event for your group. The new Apassionata horse show also makes a great location for a gala dinner or meeting, combined with a hands-on seminar that talks about leadership through working with horses. Additionally, in February, the new Nockerberg Brewery Hall and Biergarden will open featuring a special beer tasting concept.

Hamburg A. Hamburg is always hopping with new and interesting things to do for incentives. For example, gin tastings with locally made spirits are a big trend at the moment. Craft beers are also popular and some local breweries even have beer sommeliers that can create interesting and cool events. Another fun and different thing to do is taking Waterkant Tours on VW buses to see places and spaces in Hamburg beyond typical “tourist” haunts. Escape Rooms are also in vogue and teams and groups really love doing this. 

Waterkant Tours on VW buses in Hamburg

© Waterkant Touren
© Waterkant Touren

Apassionata horse show in Munich

© Apassionata
© Apassionata

Enjoying a beverage in Hamburg

© Hamburg Convention Bureau
© Hamburg Convention Bureau