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Recognition event prevails as next-gen virtual gifting experience

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Due to the pandemic, Toyota Motor North America sought a virtual alternative to their annual destination gifting event for their top regional salespeople.

Challenge

Toyota Motor North America hosts an annual gifting experience for its top regional salespeople. Winners are invited to a destination event where they can select from a range of gifts, which are tiered based on the levels of sales achievements. The opportunity to win coveted gifts is an incentive, but so is the experience itself. This yearly gathering is an opportunity to be recognized, connect with colleagues and form new relationships with other salespeople.

Every year, we aim to design an experience that tops those prior. That became more challenging in 2020, when in-person gatherings and travel were restricted. We needed to find a unique, immersive way to reward salespeople who had delivered top performances despite the pandemic. It needed to be more than a traditional gifting program.

Solution

Working with our client, we decided on a fully three-dimensional virtual event in which the client would have an active role. Winners would enjoy a shopping experience from the comfort of wherever they were located, and gift concierges would be available to assist as they would at an in-person event. Users would also be able to connect with other winners in the chat box, simulating in-person interactions. This immersive approach would deliver on the expectations salespeople had for something special that also allowed them to network with other people.

We explored a range of virtual reality goggles and other devices. We ultimately decided to use a platform that didn’t require any additional hardware or software. Winners could simply log on to the secure platform using their email address and a secure password. This helped ensure that everyone would be able to participate regardless of familiarity with technology.

Initial drawing of main gifting room.

To build the 3D environment, we worked closely with the client and virtual design specialists. The design was created to reflect the user’s point of view and allow winners to interact with each object. The client had the option of choosing from existing 3D objects or having highly detailed 3D models created from scratch, rendered from physical objects. The level of detail was important because winners could not inspect the items in person and had to rely on the depictions and descriptions to make their selections.

The main gifting room was designed based on a pre-existing theme, customized to include the client’s branding among other individualized adjustments. Inside the main room, we designed and built eight different themed booths: Apparel & Accessories, Home, Electronics, Wellness, Outdoor, Tool & Kitchen, Swag and Culinary Collection–each with its own unique products. Most gifts came in different sizes and price points, but only one rendered object was needed per gift.

Rendered main gifting room.

Each user was allocated a number of points based on their 2020 sales achievements. Users could move independently around the main room and visit each of the booths as many times as they desired, in whatever order they selected. In each booth, a click of the mouse allowed users to interact with the gifts by turning them, inspecting them close-up–and popping open a details window with more information and an option to add the gift to their cart. The system tallied the remaining points in real time so winners always knew how many they had left to spend. Items could be removed from a cart once added and quantities could be updated. When a winner was ready to complete their experience, they had the option of either converting any remaining points to a gift card or donating them to charity.

The experience was designed to provide personalized service. Gift concierges could be in the environment with the winners to answer questions or make suggestions. A share-screen feature allowed winners to speak with a concierge directly and review delivery options. Gifts were delivered directly to the address provided by the winner.

Results

This first-of-its-kind gifting experience engaged 102 top salespeople through meaningful recognition, celebration and the ability to strengthen connections with their colleagues. As a result of the option for attendees to donate unused points to charity, the automotive brand raised almost $3,000 for the American Cancer Society.

The experience was named Best Virtual Program in the 2021 Motivation Masters Awards for its innovative design and execution. The program is also a 2021 Globee® Awards Gold Winner in the Employee Engagement category.

  • 102 top salespeople engaged
  • ~$3,000 raised for the American Cancer Society
  • 90% of respondents were very satisfied or satisfied with the experience

“The virtual shopping experiences was well-executed.” —Attendee
“I was super impressed with the items available. Awesome experience!” —Attendee