Time and time again, it has been proven that incentive trips are among the most powerful motivators for sales teams. They are so effective that some organizations are beginning to set criteria so that employees in other departments can qualify to participate.
When designing incentive trips, it is important to remember that one size does not fit all. Each trip must be carefully planned and then customized based on the interests of the individuals who qualify.
1. Once you know which employees have qualified for the trip, send out a survey.
Event Apps make the process quick and easy. Ask about interests, hobbies, and the types of activities and excursions guests would enjoy. Also, collect information about allergies, food sensitivities, special menu requirements, and physical challenges.
2. Plan excursions and activities based on the preferences of participants.
3. If you provide a tour desk and guests have to pay for some of their own excursions, opt for customized experiences. Don’t just replicate what is available on-line.
From the School of Hard Knocks: If the options provided are available on-line, participants will price shop and the DMC providing the tour desk may end up with little or no business.
Provide the option of shared or private transfers so that there is no sticker shock for guests.
At minimum, arrange an arrival lunch or tea (with an orientation), a welcome reception, one group excursion, and a group dinner on the last night. (Some groups may enjoy a dinner cruise.)
5. Be mindful of local regulations.
From the School of Hard Knocks: For example, event planners based in Ontario should be aware that, due to TICO regulations, only registered TICO travel agents can book and pay for hotels, transportation, and tours on behalf of third parties. This applies no matter where the guests are travelling.
6. Build in enough free time so that individuals can relax and pursue their own interests.
7. Look for options to customize even on the fly.
From the School of Hard Knocks: I once had a guest who was interested in gardening. This did not come out until he was at the resort. Unfortunately, the gardening was outsourced to another company so it wasn’t possible for a gardener to give a private tour. One of the managers who had a strong interest in horticulture provided the tour and the guest came back beaming and with lots of photos.
8. Select a resort that includes transfers, even for individuals who elect to arrive early or extend their stay.
From the School of Hard Knocks: When participants must pay separately for upgrades, it causes confusion. They begin comparison shopping and your whole transportation plan can be blown out of the water.
Even if you have to use a DMC, be sure to negotiate a per person rate. That rate should apply whether individuals travel with the group in a bus or travel in a shuttle bus or car because they extend their stay
9. Arrange for guests to arrive early on the first day and leave late on the last day to give more time at the destination.
Having said that, if families are attending and the trip ends on the day before school, families may want the option of flying back earlier.
10. Use the arrival lunch or tea to provide an orientation to the resort, culture, local etiquette, and expectations.
Time at the resort is limited so provide information and maps to familiarize groups with the facilities quicky. Us an app. to provide a resort map, timetable of resort activities, and destination guide.
11. Cater to the needs of families.
Families with infants and toddlers will want to know the location of the doctor or nurse’s station.
From the School of Hard Knocks: For example, in Mexico, I arranged a piñata party for children during the group dinner. They were delighted.
Teenagers will appreciate an experience where they record and mix their own music or a teen disco.
12. Address the special needs of guests with physical challenges.
Guests with disabilities may need ground level rooms with accessible bathrooms, close to reception or the dining areas, and special shuttles to the beach and other activities. Don’t assume you know what guests need. ASK.
13. Create a customized itinerary for each individual (couple or family).
It takes more work but personalized itineraries will reduce confusion. Once again, apps can simplify the process. You can even create a “build your own trip” module displaying group activities, free time, and time slots with a list of excursions from which guests can select.
Some guests may opt to lie on the beach while others will take advantage of the opportunities for excursions. Either way, since incentive trips are experiences that employees work towards and look forward to all year, the time invested in customizing the experience will make a big difference.
What steps have YOU taken to customize incentive trip experiences?
Lori is a technology consultant and event marketer. She has passionately been working with nonprofits and associations for over 10 years — showing them new ways to leverage technology for their missions and memberships. She joined EventMobi in the summer of 2016 and is loving the events industry. To connect with Lori, email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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