Another year means another incentive program. The constant challenge is “how do you make it special and better than what may have happened the previous year”? How do you create that unforgettable sales incentive trip or employee appreciation award programs that they will never forget? Our take is these folks have worked hard for your organization, and need not only to be treated extra special, but they need to be blown away by the experience. Here’s our checklist of great incentive ideas to give them the incentive trip of a lifetime:
*Pick a destination that attendees would never choose on their own. While an island in the Caribbean is great, how about a trip to an active volcano, or the opportunity to see Antarctica? You want to not only impress potential winners; you also want to incentivize them to work hard to win next year’s trip. Make that extra effort to find that extra special destination.
*Research activities that awe and inspire. Avoid the same old activities that currently attract leisure travelers. Find the next great thrill before it goes mainstream. Ever been swimming with the whale sharks, or waterfall repelling in the rainforest? These are just a few of the things we have done with incentive winners on recent trips. Here’s a hint. Ask the locals. Tell them you are looking for experiences that are off the beaten path and extra special. You may be amazed by the suggestions you hear. Ask yourself…Is this a heart-pumping excursion or just another processed group tour?
*Gifts and Give-A-ways. It doesn’t have to be something big or expensive. If it’s not something you would want and cherish, chances are your guests won’t want it either. Create the experience from the invite process until after they are home. Creative invitations,(how about coconuts for an island adventure, or Messages in a bottle for a cruise???). Also, nightly room drops and post-event photo keepsakes ensure your program extends beyond the dates on-site. Try a tasty local sweet on the pillow, or if the budget allows, monogrammed pajamas made out of silk…..A treat when your winners arrive and then every night thereafter sets the trip apart. Here’s an extra special tip…Hire a singer to deliver a gift one night in a custom song (or poem) written just for your group. It will be memorable, and everyone will get a fun laugh!
*A private pick-up never hurts. After a 6 hour flight, nothing is better than being whisked away in a private sedan. This extra touch, if you can afford it, makes all the difference when your attendees arrive and when your attendees depart. Make it extra special by adding the local drink ready to go in the backseat when they enter the car. No popular local drink???…then how about the national beer, wine, or sparkling beverage? Make sure you have water/juices for your non-drinkers and let them sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Top it off with a hot or chilled face towel. This extra touch will go a long way to making the experience extra special.
*Plenty of Meal Options, but don’t make them think about it – Attendees are on the trip to be rewarded so give them the option of great dining. Find out the hottest restaurants at your destination and book private tables in advance. Get to know restaurants owners or executive chefs. Work with them on a menu created just for your group. If possible, see if the chef has a book published and hand them out as an amenity gift (signed copies are even better). For meal functions, be sure to mix it up on different nights. A trip full of organized group dinners with other winners is fun, but sometimes a couple may want to enjoy an evening on their own. Reward trips should provide freedom and flexibility, especially at mealtime.
Always remember… If you wouldn’t want to do it, chances are your attendees won’t either. Be creative, fun, and inspiring. You want the incentive winners talking about your trip in the months after, and talking about what incredible adventure you will be taking on the next year!