Incentives are about planning, and procuring, and mapping, and booking, and… the list goes on. We've talked about that in the past. But for the aspiring attendees, it's as much about anticipation and motivation as it is rewarding and relaxing.
And really, that's the goal: give the achievers the award, but along the way motivate the middle to do more, sell more and buy in so they'll work harder next year to make the cut.
A destination can really stir the passion of your people.
So, the planning begins. Is it a beachfront sun-and-fun spot or a big city with a mystique of its own? A popular slam-dunk, or a "wow, I never thought of that" kind of place? Many planners today, particularly ones with groups that are well-traveled or adventurous, are turning to newer and less-traveled destinations that are getting buzz among leisure travelers at the time.
Are you being served? Then there's the hotel or resort, which first and foremost has to be of incentive quality. That usually means at least four stars, but that is only a starting point. The site visit is critical, to ensure that the property is really up to snuff, has the meeting or special event space you need, and very importantly has the staff that meets incentive standards. Remember, as someone who may be bringing a big piece of business to the property, you are a VIP. If the property can't impress you, how are they going to treat dozens or hundreds of attendees?
Pay one price. A new generation of luxury all-inclusive properties that have broken the stereotype of cheap liquor, mediocre food in buffets, and substandard accommodations are attracting incentive groups at a rapidly growing pace. These properties can hold their own in the top tier with fine dining in an array of restaurants, top-shelf drinks, and VIP service.
Come sail away. It's an unfortunate fact that few corporate planners and executives will consider cruises, but getting them on board for a familiarization trip can change their minds. A new generation of cruise liners have been built with groups in mind and were designed with meeting facilities and private event spaces. There is a cruise line for virtually every budget, and they are nearly all-inclusive — minus alcohol unless a special contract provision is arranged — and have the benefit of making sure that your attendees can't wander off into town during the work sessions. At the top end, ultra-luxury cruise lines offer the option of a buyout, which opens up the option for branding the boat and even choosing (within limits) the ports of call.
On the move. On-site transfers must also be considered. Not only must car services be arranged for people who may be arriving on dozens of different flights at the largest destinations, but an hour-long trip to the resort is frustrating after a day spent flying. Another logistical consideration is how far off-site venues are from the hotel or resort, which can effectively limit your choice of event and dining venues to the property's ballrooms and outdoor event venues.
Factor the Wow. Site inspections can be a drag, but one thing to keep in mind along the way is, "what's going to be a story here?" Your attention needs to be on the details, of course, but force yourself to think big picture. The attendees will love it, but will they tell others? What photos will they take and what impression will those make on the oh-so-closers who didn't quite make the trip? Done right, your story will be told and re-told through pictures and posts. Make sure you see into the future and predict what stories can create motivation among the larger group of target associates.
So many choices, so little time. But done right, your incentive plan can motivate your team members to engage and excel the whole year through.
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