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INTERVIEW WITH LARRY HOWELL, VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES & MARKETING AT DOCHERTY INCENTIVES & MEETINGS

Posted On: May 25, 2017

A great way to complete the month of May is to get in on the insights from Larry Howell. He works at Docherty and travels the world discovering interesting venues, finding new tours, testing out hotels, tasting delectable foods, golfing beautiful greens, hiking amazing trails, and watching for places to send teams on once-in-a-lifetime trips. 

When did you realize that working in the travel incentive industry was your passion? My introduction to travel incentives actually began as an attendee having qualified for a sales incentive trip while working in the financial services industry, back in the pre-computer era. I’ll never forget that first trip, not to mention all of the over-the-top President’s Club trips I was fortunate enough to be a part of. That’s when I caught the travel bug and I eventually jumped at the opportunity to join a start-up incentive company knowing how powerfully motivating those trips had been for me, and thinking “that’s got to be an easy sell!” I may have been more naïve in those youthful days but decades later I’m no less convinced how life-altering travel can be, and how effective incentive travel can be as a marketing tool. 

What is your title and what does a typical day/week/month look like for you? My title is Vice President of Sales & Marketing, which sounds pretty important. But the bottom line is I’m really just a sales guy. Odd as it may sound, I’ve always liked cold calling. I still love the hunt, the sleuthing, “cracking the code” and building enduring, working relationships. I try to dedicate a portion of every day to prospecting and proselytizing to make the business case for live meetings, inclusive employee recognition, incentive and loyalty reward travel.   

What is the biggest challenge of your job? Getting people to answer their phone. 

You travel for Docherty, right? What is one destination you're always excited to return to and why? Spain, a country with incredible diversity, unimaginable cuisine, every conceivable kind of geography and fantastic, cheap wines! (The picture of Larry is during a visit to San Sebastián, Spain.)

What is your secret to getting through long flights? If I’m in the back of the bus…a window seat…a good book, my well-traveled neck pillow, iPod, earplugs and a mickey or two downed with a glass of wine.

Food is an enticing part of world travel...what is a meal or a dish or a dessert (or all of the above!) that you will never forget? Cuisses de grenouille. Highly recommended at a charming, five-star restaurant in Beaune, France. I thought the frog legs were delicious. But, after fourteen hours of turning my insides out…never again! 

When you're not traveling, what does the perfect weekend look like for you? Fly fishing one of the many streams of SW Wisconsin, or better yet in Montana.

What is one item you've picked up during your globetrotting that is a special treasure to you? A very cool boomerang hand carved by an Australian Aborigine at one of our group events. It responds to me beautifully, but I’ve yet to bag any wild game.  

How do you know a destination is a good place to send travel rewards program participants? In other words, what do you assess first? The people? The scenery? The food? The cost? All of the above. There are so many unique, fantastic destinations where we’d love to send groups but unfortunately getting there – the time and cost - makes many of them impractical. For better or for worse, air lift often dictates the destinations we use, but it’s a big world and there are seemingly endless viable options. 

Any tips for overcoming language barriers? A smile goes a long way. Show genuine gratitude and respect customs and traditions. And always carry cash. 

You must be an expert packer by now...do you need to make packing lists or can you pack and leave in 30 minutes and remember everything? I’ll do anything to keep from checking a bag so I’ve honed my packing skills to get a five-day’s wardrobe into a carry-on. I’ll always have a backpack as I inevitably return home with more than I left with.

That being said...if you could only bring 5 things with you on an international trip besides the clothes on your back, what 5 things would you bring? Not sure how long I could go with just 5 things, but the obvious would begin with:

  1. Passport with two copies
  2. Phone with portable charger
  3. Cash
  4. iPad
  5. Reading cheaters

In your opinion and travel experience... 

...where can the best wine be found? Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits, France.

...what was the most relaxing location you visited? Saint Barthélemy (St. Barts) in the West Indies.

...what was the biggest surprise during travel? Bribing a Mexican police chief to bail my client out of jail, apparently arrested for unspeakable acts.

So many people have world destinations on their bucket list...do you? Are there places you want to visit but haven't, yet? There are so many…the Arlberg region in Austria, Vietnam, New Zealand, Seychelles, Chilean Patagonia, the Amazon, China, Baltic states, Cuba, Dalmatian coast…

If you could only relive 5 minutes from one of your travels, which 5 minutes would they be? Jumping (more like being pushed) out of a plane 14,000 feet above the tip of the Baja with a client CEO as a condition for keeping his business. It was the biggest rush I’ve ever experienced!