by Silvana Torres, AMPRO
By definition, incentive travel occurs when a group of people travels to a pre-established destination, in the off-season and with the right to each bring a companion. In addition, the itinerary is especially developed for this group.
Incentive trips are tailor made. You choose the best hotels, the trendiest restaurants, the tours that simply cannot be missed and exclusive transfers for the group. Even the menus should be pre-selected in order to avoid difficulties with a foreign language, for example. These differentials make the winners feel that they are being recognized as true champions.
Award travel can be transformed into real brand experiences around the world. It is characterized by memorable activities, magical moments and lots of excitement. The best incentive programmes are those that touch the very souls of those who are taking part. This is due, in large part, to the trips.
There are two main reasons why the trips are scheduled for the off-season. The first is in order to get the best service possible in hotels, airlines, restaurants, etc., because with the low occupancy, both the staff and the structure will be fully dedicated to the travel group’s guests, which results in better use being made of the activities.
The second reason is the very significant cost reduction in the off-season, which is even more relevant when it comes to a large group of people, which ensures greater bargaining power with suppliers and those establishments contracted for the trip.
This type of award is given to the participants who stand out at the end of an incentive program, as a way of recognizing the best performances during the period. Research carried out by the Society of Incentive Travel & Executives (SITE) – an association that brings together members from every country – has shown that the incentive trip is the award that leaves the greatest residual memory, reaching the ten-year mark. This means that, for ten years, the winner will remember that he won that trip to Cancun because of the campaign that he took part in at the company where he was working.
However, take care! This residual memory also holds true for a badly organized incentive trip. In that case, your winner will retain negative memories of your company for ten long years.
An incentive trip should not exceed eight days, since the company’s best professionals will be absent from their work. It should also be remembered that this period should not be discounted from these professionals’ vacation entitlements, as it is a prize and not a paid vacation.
The presence of the winners’ companions is an indispensable ingredient in these awards, as these people give all their support during the campaign so that the participants feel encouraged to exceed their goals. So, it is only fair that they will share those moments that will remain so strong in their memories.
The choice of the destination is also a vital point, as it will not do any good if the place is incompatible with the target audience’s profile. The best way to select the destination is by means of research, undertaking an analysis of the record of trips already made, as well as the participants’ expectations.
A trip to Disney, for example, can turn into an inconvenience if the winners do not have a passport, do not know the language and are not in the habit of going to restaurants. For this participant profile, a more appropriate destination might be a super fishing trip in the state of Mato Grosso, with a fishing kit, rod, hooks, etc. The success of the incentive trip depends on a number of factors, but particularly on the realities and dreams of those who will make the trip.
Silvana Torres is an Advisor to AMPRO, founding partner of the Mark Up Agency. She has received several recognition awards for her incentive marketing campaigns, including among others the Caio Award.
The opinions expressed in this text are the author’s opinion and do not necessarily reflect the position of WTM Latin America.