Silvano Bignozzi and Lino Toselli are unlikely world travelers. Local Bolognese salesmen, they have been working for the same company for the past 30 years, selling grapa, spumante, and chamomile to local bars and restaurants. Despite their different selling techniques, they are both good at what they do. So good in fact, that they have won 25 incentive holidays to as many exotic corners of the world – Morocco, Brazil, Thailand, Kenya, California, Mexico, Egypt, Bali, Santo Domingo… all paid for by their company.
Filmmaker Paolo Muran has filmed nearly all of Bignozzi and Toselli’s incentive holidays. He has watched the friendship build over camel rides in Saudi Arabia, topless casino dancers in Uruguay, paragliding adventures in Argentina, and hotel doors that don’t seem to open no matter how many times one inserts the electronic key.
If its true that “to travel is to live”, can we imagine what a great life Bignozzi and Toselli have had?
This film is not a typical Italian tourism story. There are no gondola rides on the canals of Venice or visits to the duomo in Florence. Instead provincial Italians – the kind who would never have stepped foot out of Italy were it not for the organized tour – bring a bit of “vera Italia” to the rest of the world.
Not only will we join Bignozzi and Toselli for a quarter-century of luxury travel in some of the poshist tourist resorts in the world (thanks to beautifully shot archival footage by Paolo) but we will also travel the local sales routes with the couple to see for ourselves the techniques that have won them a lifetime of elephant expeditions and helicopter forays. We will become familiar with “the incentive holiday,” and get to know an odd couple, brought together by their ability to sell.
THE INCENTIVE HOLIDAY:
Incentive holidays are package tours to exotic places for groups of 50 to 80 salesmen, which typically last 9 days and 7 nights. Each year some 65 to 70% of the sales-force qualifies by meeting their annual quotas.
All of the participants’ needs are taken care of, and they are treated to 5 star hotels, world-renowned tourist shows, local food and folklore, guided tours and comfortable transportation.
The incentive holiday serves to motivate the sales-team, and impacts positively on their performance. The trips provide life-long memories, and serve as a topic of conversation for years to come. They nurture friendships and provide salesmen who work independently, with a sense of belonging.
The Incentive Holiday Includes:
The suntan: Necessary because it is a sign of change. It proves someone has gone from the cold of the Emilia region of Italy to the heat of somewhere exotic. And when that someone returns with a tan, customers ask questions.
Excursions: Intended to give the holiday a certain epic quality and the feeling that the participant has done something dangerous.
Presents: After spending the vacation investigating prices, the final day is spent “raiding for presents.” The salesmen’s homes are repleat with batiks, warriors’ lances, various versions of the oversized “sombrero,” turtle shells, stuffed real-animals, indian masks and innumerable statuettes. Wives and children of seasoned salesmen are unanimous in imploring the men to forego the gifts.
The Guides: Perpetually rushed, unexplainably but unanimously urging the group to move faster. Tours are unending and always accompanied by sensational stories. To date; Bignozzi and Toselli have visited five countries where Apocalypse Now was filmed, and have gazed upon 11 of the 7 wonders of the world.
The Food: Major theme on every trip: Mistrust of unfamiliar dishes. A “softened-up” version of local cooking called “European food” is standard fare. Most commonly heard food phrase: “If we just gave this lot a plate of spaghetti they’d be much happier!”
The Sea: Every beach in the world, from a little tropical island to the most famous or exclusive resort, inevitably “… looks like Sardinia…”
Italy / 2007 / 52 min or 84 min
Director: Paolo Muran
Production: Pierrot e la Rosa
in association with Stefilm