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The Docherty Story

Posted On: September 1, 2015

The Soil

The birthplace of an idea for a new product or service is so intriguing to fans and followers—it can inspire or even surprise. There are chance meetings that provoke partnerships that lead to huge developments. There are dreams that lead to realities that produce life-changing products. Where a thought leader begins is significant—it can often set the tone for how the future of a business is shaped. 

In the early part of the 20th Century an inquisitive, adventurous boy was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland. When that boy, Peter Docherty, immigrated to the US after his European college education to settle in Detroit, he couldn’t have predicted that in 2015 a company he’d eventually build would be sending people to enchanting destinations all over the world.

The Seed

With a heart for worldwide travel it is no wonder Peter started his adventure in the US as a travel writer for the Detroit Free Press. His excellent articles covering the travel industry led him to a phone interview with the president of Maritz Incentive Travel. That president was so impressed with Peter’s approach, personality and drive that he offered him a job on the spot at the company he was planning to move to: E.F. MacDonald. So in 1963 Peter started with E.F. MacDonald, the pioneer of incentive travel, to bring his expertise to the incentive travel industry.

A few short years later Peter, his wife Betty and their children were transferred to London in the late 1960s where he was charged with expanding the European incentive division. There he continued advancing his career in the incentive industry buoyed by his deep love for travel and other cultures. By 1971 Carlson Companies got word of Peter’s successes and offered him the Presidency of Performance Incentives Corporation, a forerunner to the world renowned Carlson Marketing, back in the U.S.

The Growth

Peter was instrumental in building Performance Incentives Corporation and from the Minneapolis headquarters the expansion ballooned between 1971-1978. For a man with an entrepreneurial spirit, though, Peter was eager to start his own business and resigned. In 1979 Peter started Incentives Unlimited, which for nearly a decade was a leading company in the industry. Peter sold the company to Northwestern Incentive Service and remained as president four additional years continuing to lend his expertise and wisdom. His passions won out again when he launched a new venture in 1994, which is still in existence today.

1994 was a memorable year—Andre Agassi won the US Tennis Open, Forrest Gump opened in theatres and Docherty Incentives was officially born. Like Andre and Forrest, Docherty has continued to influence fans and followers for decades. Peter sold the company to his daughters in 2003, and the spirit of his work ethic and love for the travel incentive industry remain pillars of how Docherty Incentives & Meetings functions on a daily basis—high levels of integrity and passion for the work.

The Roots

Peter’s attentiveness to the experiences of his customers has meant Docherty has long-standing clients often referred to as family. Year over year clients return to Docherty for the ways this family-owned and operated incentive and meeting planning company brings individualized, thoughtful travel and event planning services to groups across the nation. Some clients have been with Docherty from the beginning, traveling with Peter through the decades of his first company, then his second and eventually claiming over 35 years of loyalty to Docherty’s work.

It isn’t just the impeccable service that has Docherty Incentives & Meetings realizing decades-long loyal customers. Peter’s employees, too, have always commented on experiencing Peter as one of the best bosses they ever had. Genuine interest and care for the people who help make your dream thrive is one of the secrets of a powerful business. One employee started working for Peter when she was a teenager and recently retired after nearly four decades of working for him. And even though Peter is enjoying his retirement by delving into the history and non-fictional books he loves so much and being available to his seven grandchildren, his legacy is very much a part of how Docherty continues to deliver distinct value over their competition.

The Bounty

Docherty operates over 80% of their travel incentive programs overseas. This is unique in the industry and has established Docherty as the go-to travel incentive company for businesses small to large looking for impeccably managed programs on nearly every continent. Peter’s early interest in exotic locations around the world lead today’s Docherty team to expand into these international destinations.

Peter absolutely consumes books and is known as a walking dictionary. His love of learning and literature shows when he begins to share an illuminated story. Peter’s many travels have meant his experiences and encounters are rich and exciting. As a storyteller and as an entrepreneur Peter captures the hearts and minds of his friends, family, clients and acquaintances everywhere he goes. He even wrote a book, Humor Travels Well, which chronicles the humorous and sometimes unusual encounters spanning his forty years of traveling the world. He followed this with a novel Courier Thirteen.

Though Peter’s heart for the intriguing still pulls him on a plane bound for cities around the world, if pressed he’ll always call Paris his city of choice for its rich culture, the language he speaks fluently, the food, the history, the art. When he isn’t deep into a book he’s happily observing his daughters continuing to build on his vision for a travel incentive company that has superior customer service as the driving force behind an exceptional business legacy.