India: Ideal for Incentives

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A flurry of colour as a group of Rajasthani women float past in their saris; the visceral impact of seeing the Taj Mahal for the first time; a cow peacefully chewing the cud as peak-time traffic passes by it mere inches away… These are but some of the sights that India will forever etch into your memory. Considering that travel incentives should offer an unforgettable experience, India is an ideal destination.

Why choose travel incentives?

Of the various kinds of incentives that can be offered to employees and clients, travel incentives have proved to be not only the most desirable, but also the most memorable. There’s no disputing that cash incentives and other rewards are also sought after – but monetary prizes are usually absorbed into recipients’ daily expenses, and other rewards are swiftly forgotten following the brief glory of an awards ceremony. The positive effects of a travel incentive can be seen both prior to, as well as long after the travel experience has taken place. In anticipation of such an incentive, participants are motivated to perform to their full potential and, indeed, to excel.

The appeal of a travel experience is obvious: few things are able to inspire as much excitement among office-bound employees as the prospect of an exotic getaway. As such, having a travel reward as an incentive generates effort and enthusiasm, and provides the momentum to sustainably improve performance. Additionally, close and successful interaction between team members is also encouraged. Travel incentives are, however, about so much more than an opportunity to visit a new place or country. What differentiates a travel incentive from other types of rewards is the fact that it offers an experience. Ideally, a travel reward should be a once-in-alifetime journey – something that not just anyone could purchase or access.

So, why India?

Travel incentives ought to offer an experience that truly moves its participants; something that should be proudly displayed in photo albums and fondly referred to in conversations long after the event has taken place. A journey to India offers a truly unforgettable experience that will consistently surpass participants’ expectations. Many South Africans have come to associate this country – the seventh-largest in the world – with images of abject poverty, inevitable stomach afflictions, and an expectation of food that is unpalatable in its spiciness. It will come as a surprise to many, therefore, to discover in India a country that offers unthinkable luxury; what is likely the best and most authentically warm hospitality one will ever enjoy; a mouth-watering culinary experience that is infinitely nuanced, and an ancient sense of culture that will profoundly touch even experienced travellers.

Alongside Brazil, Russia and China, India is also one of the world’s leading economies, with prime property in Mumbai being among the most expensive in the world. The fact that English is widely spoken in India removes many of the linguistic barriers that could potentially put a damper on a journey in a foreign country. Additionally, Jet Airways and other carriers offer regular and affordable flights between South Africa and India, and a travel incentive to this fascinating country can really be tailored to accommodate a vast range of group sizes and budgets. Naturally, one of the aims of a travel incentive is for hard-working employees to recharge their batteries; a visit to India will revitalise body and mind.

The Golden Triangle

Designer Incentives offers various programmes, but the Golden Triangle – with Jaipur, Delhi and Agra forming the three points – is a classic tour that offers a quintessential taste of India.

Jaipur

Jaipur is the capital of the state of Rajasthan, and is fondly known as The Pink City, in reference to the blushing hue of the city’s walls. Rajasthan is the most colourful of all the Indian provinces, and Jaipur, in turn, is a whirl of colour and commotion. The city can be reached by road and rail, as well as by air through Jaipur International Airport.

The Oberoi Rajvillas is a luxury resort set among 32 acres of exquisitely landscaped gardens and water features. In stark contrast to the ceaseless bustle of the city outside – where cows, camels and cars compete for road space – this hotel is a parallel dream-universe of tranquillity and elegance. At the Indian speciality restaurant, Rajmahal, everyday cuisine is transformed into gourmet fare, the likes of which you’ll be pining for long after you’ve arrived back home. Guests here are treated to a demonstration of traditional Tandoori cooking, and the unforgettable hospitality of the team is the cherry on top.

The city’s most famous attraction is Hawa Mahal – The Palace of Winds. In actual fact, this palace is an immense and elaborate facade, and one that is well worth visiting. Next on the list is a visit to one of the city’s three famous forts: Nahargarh Fort with its gorgeous views of the city, Jaigarh Fort that is said to host the world’s largest cannon on wheels, and Amber (also known as Amer) Fort, which features intricately crafted handiwork, such as a mirror ceiling. The glory and extravagance of India’s Maharajahs comes alive in Jaipur, and Designer Incentives is able to have their guests invited to a dinner in the Maharaja’s Palace. The present-day descendants of an ancient line of kings personally host guests – but before sitting down for a sumptuous feast, visitors are welcomed by a Grand Royal Procession of elephants, camels, and a colourful kaleidoscope of dancers and musicians. Princess Diana and Prince Charles were two of the Palace’s famous visitors. In addition to the opportunity to dine with true royalty, Designer Incentives also offers ‘wow-factor’ experiences in Jaipur, such as having Indian outfits tailor-made for guests, an elephant safari, or a game of elephant polo (where guests are playing polo!) – all accompanied with champagne.

Agra

In Agra, fond memories will be made with some of Designer Incentives’ activities such as a cricket match with locals, and a shopping experience to peruse the arts, crafts, carpets and spices that the city is known for. But Agra, of course, is synonymous with the monument that, in one glance, embodies the spirit of India and manages to capture all its mysticism and romance – the Taj Mahal. Commissioned by Mughal emperor Shah Jehan for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, this marble mausoleum is perhaps the ultimate, and certainly the most famous, monument of love. Depending on the time of day and the weather, the white dome of this majestic building takes on many different moods.

The Taj combines various architectural styles, and one should take a few hours to fully explore the exquisitely detailed handiwork of its structures. The Designer Incentives team will also take groups to see the works of Padma Shri, a highly acclaimed artist who, in his lifetime, had painstakingly perfected the art of three-dimensional embroidery. His works, on display at Kohinoor Jewellers, are breathtaking in their brilliance and their detail. The Agra Fort is also worth taking the time to see. Located 600 metres from the Taj Mahal, The Oberoi Amarvillas is the closest commercial property to the landmark, with balconies opening up from the rooms to offer incredible views of the famous monument. Indeed, one can lie in bed and watch the Taj change its colours along with the sky around it.

Delhi

Delhi is locally known as Dilli, and encompasses Old Delhi and New Delhi, the capital of India. The city is usually referred to as a place of contrasts, where the old and the new co-exist in exhilarating fusion. Among the fastest-growing cities in the world, Delhi is a two-hour train ride away from Agra. No visit to India is complete without a train journey, and the Designer Incentives team will guide guests to ensure maximum enjoyment of this quintessentially Indian experience.

The best way to get the feel of the diversity of Delhi is by making use of the various modes of public transport. Designer Incentives, indeed, have structured an tour of the city whereby visitors get to see the metropolis from three very distinctive vantage points. The first of these is the tuk tuk – humble, ubiquitous, and a fun and quirky way of getting from point A to B. Tuk tuks run on natural compressed gas, and are a great way of viewing some of Delhi’s most impressive tourist sites, including the Red Fort, Jama Masjid (India’s largest mosque), Qutb Minar (an impressive free-standing tower), The Parliament House (designed by Herbert Baker) and The India Gate. The Delhi Metro is a slick network of underground trains. Airconditioned, clean and modern, this metro system is right up there with the best in the world, and when the final phases of its construction are completed, the system is expected to be longer than that of the London

Underground. Take the Metro from the new part of town into the heart of Old Delhi, and be blown away by the difference. Upon emerging from the shiny, underground metro station, Old Delhi greets one with an immediate dose of chaos and culture. It is so intoxicating and so overwhelming, that one cannot help but feel like a character in an Enid Blyton story that has been whisked away by the Magic Faraway Tree. Designer Incentives have bicycle rickshaws ready and waiting, and the enchanted fun continues. As the sinewy rickshaw driver cranks his way through alleys that seem to get more narrow, more crowded and more colourful by the minute, one is transported through a universe that is equal parts psychedelic and delightful. Here is a lane that sells only silverware; there is one where bridesto- be do all their shopping – and the tiny gaps in between are filled with a cacophony of voices and vehicle horns and bicycle bells. Emerging yet again from the maze of Old Delhi, one is left tingling with exhilaration from top to toe.

Beyond the Golden Triangle

India offers an array of experiences that is as diverse as the country and its culture. Designer Incentives also put together programmes that include the Sri lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, the Himalayas and Bollywood experiences, tiger-watching safaris, private tented camps, cruises on royal barges, and many other unforgettable events. For more information, visit designerincentives.net, or send an e-mail to designer@designerincentives.net, or call +91 22 2202 5353.

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