Does Your Incentive Travel Program Support Your Brand?

July 9, 2015
An incentive travel program offers a unique opportunity. All of your top performers are in one place. They’re networking, making connections, and sharing best practices. They are also experiencing your brand as a valued guest. While the company brand and logo should certainly be visible elements – as simple as flip flops with branded soles or as complex as TEDTalks-style presentations by your senior leadership – the brand experience goes much deeper and has implications for employee engagement both before and after the program. Find the Common Thread and Pull It Through A subtle theme or concept running through a program will help ensure that everyone at the event goes home with the brand message you intend. We recently planned a program for an organization with a focus on excellence and being on the cutting edge. A partnership with a Formula One racing team brought brand association and excitement to the event, drawing attention to the thrill of perfect performance. Another client applauded all of their winners as “rock stars,” and we created a once-in-a-lifetime rock star photo shoot for the top seventeen winners, projecting their images intermingled with those of real rock stars during a final night rock-n-roll event. Every communication component and recognition event should connect the brand to the excitement of achieving the results and should provide motivation for the next contest. Treat Your People Like Customers Your brand is in the spotlight. It is essential that every effort is made to ensure the pre-trip and on site experience is flawless for program winners and their guests. It should reflect the level of quality and service you associate with the brand. The thoughtful and personal efforts you and your logistics team make will leave an impression that lasts. Every winner on the program worked hard to get here - the program experience must be worthy of the effort. Research shows that letting people know what to expect before the program helps to relieve any stress they may have about traveling, and about the event itself. Making registration easy and providing ample, exciting communications will get you off to the right start. Even more importantly, nothing beats impeccable service on site. Begin by selecting hotel and venue partners known for a high level of service. Then be sure that the travel staff stays one step ahead, anticipating every need. Excursion cancelled for weather? Book spa appointments for everyone before the news goes out about the change. It will never be forgotten. You can expect that a team that feels valued and recognized during the program will carry that forward into their interactions with colleagues and clients as the face of your brand when they get home. Link Experience with Organizational Values An incentive program can bring corporate values to life. Is service a core value? Organize a corporate social responsibility (CSR) event during the program, serving the community more directly. Or maybe you are trying to emphasize the need for collaboration. Consider planning an interactive event that requires teamwork to succeed. This is a chance to reinforce the networks and cooperation your people need to do their best work. Whatever you choose to do, be explicit in making the link between the company values and the experience. They represent who you are as an organization. Don’t miss the opportunity to drive that home to your most high profile advocates. Incentive travel can bring to life the goals and values of the company. It inspires people to do their best and to share in the success of the organization by taking the brand and what it stands for wherever they go. Now that’s a brand ambassador.

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