In a recent interview with Jennifer Mazza, Director of Travel Operations at Next Level Performance, I asked her how she continues to keep incentive trips exciting enough to motivate participants to go above and beyond, excited to attend the trip year after year. It became apparent that there are several elements that are needed to create an enticing and rewarding trip that program winners will always remember:
- High standards and efficient communication: With a big trip, there are a lot of moving parts and several key players in executing a successful trip. It’s important to understand the standards that we hold ourselves to as a company, and the standards that our clients and their winners hold us to. It’s equally as important to take those standards and make sure that hotel staff, destination management companies, entertainment providers, and everyone in between is truly aware of where their performance needs to lie.
- Different is key: A lot of the time there are repeat winners on group incentive travel programs. How do you keep the trips enticing enough each time that participants won’t lose interest? While still upholding standards, switch things up so it’s not the same trip year in and year out. This could be a different location or new and exciting events.
- Grab local culture: As discussed in our previous blog about a trip of a lifetime in Mexico, culture is key to a memorable travel experience. Regardless of where your destination is, it’s important to find activities and surroundings that are quintessential of the culture, and to tie it into the experience. This can be broken down further:
- Food: Food is a big deal. A meal should be an experience. It’s important to have a good mix of foods that winners would find familiar as well as flavors that are indigenous to your destination. This way winners can get the full experience of the location but also have options that are likely to appeal to everyone.
- Decorations and themes: Again, winners should feel completely immersed in the culture of the destination. This, as well as the company’s branding, should be woven throughout the entire trip.
- Premium gifts: As with anything, incentive travel has trends that are important for planners to stay on top of. That means including premium and experiential gifts. We are seeing companies get away from the traditional gifts, and reinforcing their appreciation for their winner’s hard work through experiential gifts they are given upon arrival. One popular example is having winners and their guests try on several pairs of Maui Jim’s or Ray-Bans and pick the pair they want the most. We are also seeing a lot of interest in tech and apparel gifts that the winners can use throughout their stay such a high quality pair of sandals or virtual reality devices.
If you want your sales team, channel partners, or customers to keep your name and brand top of mind and engaged, a combination of surprise elements, local culture, rewarding gifts and experiences, and top level expectations, will set your program up for success.