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Group Incentive Travel: Beware of 'Best' Lists

incentive group travel

One of my favorite things to do is travel. I try not to make it a goal, but a way of life. Maybe that’s why I chose the performance incentive field for my career. Many of the incentive programs I design involve group trips to exotic destinations. And yes, I do usually try to join my client on the trip—one of the best perks of the business!

RFM and its Role in Performance Improvement

incentive marketing

Depending on what kind of business you’re in, you may or may not have heard of RFM, a method used in certain marketing circles to evaluate and segment customer databases. The acronym itself stands for “Recency, Frequency, and Monetary Value”, three variables that can help a given business identify its most profitable customers. That is, by determining which of your customers have purchased your products most recently, most frequently, and have spent the most on total purchases, you can effectively organize your customer database into those who are more, or less likely to purchase from you in the future.


Announcing Our new Destination Highlight Series!

Incentive Travel Destination

Are you thinking of implementing an incentive group travel program, but aren’t quite sure where to send your group? Our new destination series will help you visualize the most exciting incentive destinations worldwide. Highlighting many of the attractions, challenges, and logistics included in a potential group trip, these informative resources are designed to inspire the next great wave of incentive travel.

An Incentive Journey To The Middle East

Dubai Gold Coast

In May, I took a trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi to evaluate these amazing cities as potential destinations for corporate incentives and meetings. Both were truly unlike any place I’d ever visited before. Going to the UAE was a safe and comfortable way to experience the Middle East, as the country is fairly liberal and accepting of westerners with all of our different customs and clothing, yet still offers a unique and vibrant culture that is distinctly Middle Eastern.

The Ultimate Incentive Reward

incentive reward

I have been in the business of recommending, designing, implementing, and managing channel incentive strategies for my clients for a long time now. Over the years, this experience has enabled me to recognize some of the most critical components of a successful channel incentive program, including identifying the behaviors you want to drive, developing the right rule structure, targeting the right “player” in the channel, and executing a sticky and engaging communications strategy. However, I’ve also noticed that one component that can sometimes get lost amidst all these program nuances is the actual incentive reward you choose to offer. Hiding in plain sight, the most obvious and central element of your incentive program—the incentive itself—can become secondary in importance if you’re not vigilant about it.

Incentive Travel Destination Spotlight: Rome

incentive travel destination

Rome, the Eternal City, is famous the world over for its cherished history, outstanding cuisine, and dazzling array of artistic and religious artifacts. Regarded as much for its passion and romance as for its cultural treasures, Rome has been, and continues to be one of the most exciting and inspiring incentive destinations for high achievers.

Why do incentive programs fail?

incentive marketing strategies

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
― George Bernard Shaw, Leadership Skills for Managers

Whenever I meet with prospective clients who’ve had poor experiences with past incentive programs, I usually find that their programs lacked a well-thought-out marketing plan. At times, clients will fixate on their program’s award budget—and specifically the marketing element of the budget—without fully taking into account the important role that their marketing communications play in the overall success of the program. Beyond the strength of a well-publicized launch, a successful program requires consistent, ongoing communications to help keep participants engaged, excited, and motivated to achieve. Frequently, this means designing and implementing a sophisticated marketing strategy that includes branded e-statements, custom mailings, short-term promotions, vendor-sponsored messaging, surveys, training initiatives, and more. However, some clients will try to get by with a basic, piecemeal approach that ultimately does their program a disservice. In fact, this failure to develop a coherent and consistent marketing blueprint is frequently what dooms a program before it even begins.

Instead of implementing a piecemeal marketing strategy program planners should view effective communications as essential budget-line items that need to be planned for in advance. In terms of raw numbers, it has been suggested that a program planner carve out between 10 – 12% of his/her overall program budget for marketing communications. However, in some cases this modest slice of the budgetary pie may not cut it. For example, programs focusing on new customer acquisition, end-user data collection, new product launches, or rebranding may need to consider raising their marketing budget upwards of 25% of total program costs. While this may seem excessive, it’s important to remember that your communications also double as customer service instruments, and that they can prove invaluable not just for providing program information, but also as tools for marketing and engagement.

As you search for a third-party incentive partner that can provide full service marketing and communications services, keep in mind that a truly effective partner will be one that understands your company’s overall business objectives, boasts extensive industry knowledge, can set measureable goals, knows the best and most efficient ways to communicate to your customers, has the ability to integrate with your CRM or POS systems, possesses sophisticated back-end reporting and analytics to regularly measure results, and can adapt with any program changes in order to keep your program on track. This all may sound like a lot, but it’s what’s necessary in today’s business environment in order to stay competitive.

A Personal Touch Goes a Long Way

Incentive Travel

It seems like in this increasingly globalized world it’s easier now than ever to feel lost among the crowds, whether it’s in the congestion of a big metropolis or the fun-and-sun luxury of a mega-resort. As a third-party incentive company, the latter can prove to be an unpleasant obstacle when it comes to the planning of a group trip. With a large resort, there’s always the concern of how to make the program more personalized so that it provides the type of recognition and appreciation that the client is looking for; there’s also the practical challenge of organizing a group of 100-plus individuals on a 100-plus acre property so that they all have opportunities to socialize with one another (which is often one of the big selling points of these sorts of trips).

POI: Is Your Program Targeting The Right People?

channel incentives

I know that many of us in the channel sales and marketing community tend to focus on incentive programs that deal with partner- or principal-level benefits. However, while these types of programs can certainly act as critical foundations for the formal partnership between you and your supply chain partners, they don’t always differentiate you from your competitors, and they often don’t grow market share as well as you might like. Some examples of the partner/principal-level benefits that are often included in these programs are:

Plan for the Best, but Prepare for the Worst

incentive travel emergencies

As an incentive program manager, how important is it to always be prepared? If past experience is any indicator, my answer would be VERY IMPORTANT. During a recent incentive trip that we were running in Mexico, one of the attendees became ill and required the services of the onsite doctor. At first, the doctor was able to stabilize the attendee’s condition, and for the next few days he seemed to be improving. Then, on departure day the attendee’s condition suddenly and unexpectedly took a turn for the worse, and he had to be rushed to a local hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. On the advice of the hospital doctors, we arranged for a “life flight” that would take the attendee from Mexico to a hospital in the U.S. so that he could undergo further treatment. Needless to say, it was an incredibly harrowing experience for all involved.

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