Incentive 102: The How (to build a Great Incentive Travel Program)
Incentive travel works – if you are doing it right. For successful planning of an incentive program, the heavy lifting is not just done on-site. It is done months ahead of the arrival day. Here are 5 tips for how to build your next incentive travel program.
According to a study by the Incentive Research Foundation, properly designed and executed incentive travel programs can increase sales productivity by 18% and produce an ROI of 112%, along with reducing turnover. Follow these guidelines when you are ready to plan your future memorable incentive.
Hire a local DMC
In recent years, there has been a growing trend to cut the local Certified Incentive Specialist (CIS) from the budget. While this looks like an easy way to save money, it often results in higher costs and lost focus on the event and goals.
A local CIS will be able to help with knowledge, recommendations or be the face of your company. Besides the qualitative benefits of a DMC professional, his or her experience and relationships can help you negotiate better rates, discounts, or complimentary services to heighten the quality of your program. This provides an enormous added value to the company and its participants.
For more points on why you should hire a DMC, read our post about Why Hiring a DMC Matter!
Planning an incentive travel program should start at least 12-18 months, or even more depending on group size and location. This is to build excitement internally, and allow team members a chance to “earn an incentive travel”. Part of the planning process should be to research which destination fits the team’s values, wishes, and desires. A SITE, Society of Incentive Travel Excellence, survey of incentive program participants found the destination is one of the strongest motivating factors for participation, and the destination has the most impact on making the experience memorable.
An upside to early planning is you are likely going to be able to adapt to changes internally and externally, as well as reduced rates since hotels are likely to have very few bookings so far in advance. It also allows you to visit the destination early on the site inspection, to get an appetizer of what the group will experience. Make sure to have room in your budget for one or more site inspections.
Personalization and Customization
While your team is strong and unified when together, at the end of the day, they are all individuals. Everyone desires to see and do something different. A Maritz Travel survey found that one of the most desirable activity was free time. Free time cost the company nothing but is attractive because people can set their own pace, and do things not planned in their original program.
A growing trend is a possibility for participants to choose from a variety of activity options, to personalize their incentive travel program. Try to incorporate this into your incentive travel program, as it makes the incentive more personalized and will help satisfy the desires of a diverse group of individuals while keeping them networking during dinners and meetings.
New and Authentic
A successful incentive delivers “unbuyable” experiences – experiences they would not be able to do as a tourist. Make them know that their contribution is valued by arranging memorable moments; a look behind the scenes, dinner in an off-limit venue, customized activity for the group etc.
Provide options which go below the surface of the destination. Let the participants feel and breathe how it is to be local. Invite them to the locals’ secret hideouts or inside their homes.
Participants are looking for new and authentic moments they can share with friends and family. Create moments which are easily shareable on Instagram and Facebook. This will both help hype the next incentive program, as well as providing memories the participants will talk about for years.
Make sure you have clearly defined the goals to earn the incentive, whether it is an increase in percentage growth, reduction of service complaints or another metric. Be specific. Make the goal challenging but within reach. Assign parameters such as dollar amounts, percentages, or other metrics. Doing this will guarantee the employees know exactly what they need to do, to achieve the incentive travel reward.
Let us talk about the incentive possibilities of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland, or Faroe Islands for your future incentive – do not miss the memorable moments Scandinavia has to offer!
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