Incentive travel is a growing industry as more and more businesses are realizing the value of recognizing their employees, encouraging work-life balance, and inspiring exemplary performance. Employees can look forward to new experiences and teambuilding in the lap of luxury, and executives can appreciate an effective way to incentivize hard work and a grumble-free opportunity to realign company values, vision, and direction.
Throughout the years, we’ve witnessed planner creativity at its peak as our event tech solutions were applied to one mouth-watering incentive trip after another. Last year, we decided to take stock of all the best strategies and apply them to our own incentive trip to see if we could push the boundaries. Our destination: Iceland. The productive purpose of the trip was visioning, bonding, and planning for the future (but the hot springs sounded alright too).
Here are six creative tips we learned from clients using event technology to create a more productive, engaging, and fun experience for everyone.
1. Establish One Consistent, Up-to-Date Reference: Your Incentive Trip App
Leading up to the trip, we wanted to get everyone excited and motivated, but more than anything, we wanted to make sure everyone was prepared. Using an event app as the central hub for all trip related information and communications gave everyone one simple place to check for anything they might want to know. We even allowed staff to share articles and other exciting Icelandic news directly on the meeting app.
Fun facts, a suggested packing list, and the emergency protocol could all be found in the Info Booth along with some Icelandic landscape highlights. Meanwhile, maps of Reykjavik that highlighted restaurants, monuments, and other sites of interest could be found in their own section and linked to relevant outings in the agenda. Nobody was getting lost on this trip!
The incentive trip app was also used to manage all essential communications. Email updates, alerts, and push notifications were all sent through the event app, and a record of each was stored and easily accessible for reference.
Using the incentive trip app as a definitive guide also allowed each of us to personalize our experiences of the trip, adding sessions, guest speakers, documents, and other information to our personal favorites for quick reference later. Within each of our personal profiles were private fields that we could use to fill out dietary restrictions and other concerns, which were exported by the planning team as a helpful guide after we signed up for activities. Private, read-only fields were also used to give us important flight information and our room numbers.
2. Make Meetings More Productive by Providing Content Ahead of Time
Getting down to business in the mornings, we made sure we had the perfect balance of work and play. Meetings were planned far in advance to maximize productivity. Adding prospective meetings to the trip app as sessions gave everyone a heads-up about the topics, and in-session feedback was used to gauge interest and to crowdsource and collaborate on session content. Smaller teams took ownership of the most popular projects, and then final presentations were posted as downloadable documents right on their session pages so everyone could review them and prepare thoughtful questions and comments.
3. Leverage Audience Experience Through Interactive Sessions
While session feedback before the event allowed for a thoughtful, collaborative approach to the content, live polls kept participants engaged onsite. Breakfast meetings were transformed into interactive discussions. In one session, each team was asked to pick the values their tasks were most informed by. Displaying the results live, we had a great visual aid and a platform for discussion. Predictably, the support team selected values that had to do with helpfulness and transparency, while other teams provided an opportunity for alignment when their votes were more divided, and the discussion adapted as the data changed before our eyes.
4. Use Engaging Games to Get Everyone Involved, Motivated, and Attentive
Games are addictive and engaging because, as large objectives are broken into smaller challenges, they provide instant gratification and a frequent dose of accomplishment. During one of our longer training sessions, we broke up the content with memory-testing challenges, awarding points for every correct answer. The winner got one of two coveted hotel suites. We played for the other room that evening, and it was awarded to the person with the best retention.
Games are fun and social, too. As the trip came to a close, a friendly (but competitive) scavenger hunt sent participants scrambling through the venue in search of passcodes that won them points. Clues appeared within the meeting app and the leaderboard kept score.
5. Use Participant Insight to Offer the Best Activities and Experiences
Evenings were for fun and bonding: dinners, excursions and tours. The event app was chalk-full of Icelandic tidbits to get people excited before the event, and a pre-event survey gave everyone input as we narrowed down the long list of things to do. This also allowed us to track the number participants per activity, the preferred time-slots, and exactly who was going to which event, helping us to make sure people spent time together.
When the final list was published on the event app, categorical tracks allowed people to easily find and slot them into their schedules. During open hours in the schedule, private in-app chat was perfect for coordinating excursions with one another.
6. Corral Everyone in a Moment’s Notice.
Changes are typical for any event, and company-sponsored adventures are no different. Live updates and alerts within the event app appeared on every device, regardless of type, and kept everyone in the loop. Essential information, changes, and cancellations could be delivered on the fly and were essential to onsite coordination (it’s difficult to enjoy a walking tour in a downpour, after all).
They were also handy for corralling the group instantly. Is it time for the 30-person ice bucket challenge already? Good thing they sent out a reminder. Impromptu line-dancing in the Icelandic stable? Yes, please! Live updates gave us the flexibility and agility to change the plan at a moments notice and to adapt to unforeseen obstacles and new opportunities as they came.
Bonus: Seek Feedback
“Would you like anything else with that?”
Giving participants a chance to prepare, an opportunity for input, and a choice in the activities is a great way to get the most out of your incentive trip, but there’s no substitute for retrospect. When it comes to improving your events from year to year, qualitative feedback is your best friend.
After the event, we filled out a post-event survey on the incentive trip app, providing information and elaborating on what we liked and what we didn’t like. Analytics that indicated our event app usage were used to corroborate our stories. Taking this qualitative and quantitative data back to base, we had a foundation for improving next year’s event.
Emailed alerts followed up with directions for uploading trip photos and footage so we could all share our experiences and memories with each other after, and the event app is still used to guide teams through project execution based on meetings that took place in Iceland.
While many incentive trips are private due to the sharing of internal documents, we’re happy to share our experiences and other tips we’ve learned from incentive trip planners in the past.