In a previous blog post, we talked about why travel incentives are so effective. Here are our pointers for organising an awesome corporate off-site event or retreat or away day. Let’s start with helping you pick the right destination.
“Any destination that you’re considering should have a well-developed travel infrastructure: a competitive selection of air carriers, hotels, ground transportation companies and other travel-related vendors” – The Incentive Travel Buyer’s Handbook
Always remember that the reward (in this case the destination and the experience) should be commensurate with the goals or targets or objectives you’ve set out for the team to achieve. After all, the program is a direct reflection of the relationship between the organization and the employees, so it’s critical to hit the right note.
Safety first. Do bear in mind that your travel incentive winners translate into the most valuable human capital that your organisation has. Abide by business continuity practices defined by your organisation.
I prefer picking a destination that’s ‘in season.’ The weather’s great, there are other tourists around, local businesses are buzzing, it all makes for a great milieu. What’s the point in taking the team out to a great beach destination during the rains?
Another important consideration would be travel logistics. Flight time should be considered as part of the attendee experience, especially for situations where attendees may need to transition into a conference immediately.
Whilst we would all prefer short, direct flights to exciting new destinations, it can be well worth considering making a connection or flying slightly farther because it opens up a world of options. In my experience, winners are willing to travel longer distances if, and only if, the promise of the luxurious experience awaiting them on the other side is compelling enough.
Airline capacity into the destination is a big determining factor. You will find that it is immensely challenging to get a large group of people, from across the nation, into a small, remote airport. Finally, booking flights as early as possible is highly recommended. You need to have visibility of festivals, large exhibitions, etc. that are happening in your selected destination during the same period. Booking a flight weeks or months in advance will reduce costs.
Hotels and resorts should be selected with the profile of the guest in mind. Are these top performing superstars who travel often or are these first time winners on an company-wide program? The hotel should be of a quality that is aspirational to the guests and where service levels are consistently exceptional, so that program winners’ needs are anticipated and satisfied.
You need to put yourself in the shoes of your employees and ask what will compel them to elevate their performance in order to get that reward. Simply put, if they can essentially experience the same things on their own, there might be no compelling reason for them to perform better.
Initiate a conversation with the local convention and visitors bureau. A CVB can help you maximize your spend. Because you’ll likely be bringing in a significant amount of business, the CVB can assist you in creating an indelible impression on your guests. Further, the organization can be a critical resource for identifying what venues and activities are reasonable for the budget you can allot for different parts of your event.
Be smart about your agenda. Don’t lose focus of the end game. This travel incentive is a reward. They’re here to enjoy themselves. Try to incorporate team building activities and reward & recognition galas. Keep business sessions light. Save the heavy duty stuff for the board room back at the office. Consider tail ending breakfast with a few hours of business and wrapping up around lunch time.
Ship all your event materials, like agenda booklets, t-shirts, hats and those really awesome trophies, well in advance. Freight is always cheaper than paying for excess baggage at the airport. And trust me when I say that even if you’re travelling with 30 colleagues, you will be the one babysitting all the event material whilst your colleagues are knocking back beers at the airport bar.
Consider using a professional MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, events) agency. Agencies such as ICE India can help take the guesswork out of planning complex incentives for organisations with a wide spread nationwide footprint. They’re able to leverage destination knowledge coupled with strong business relations to bring you deals and prices that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. Efficient and effective planning, getting it right the first time, help save time and money spent over costly mistakes.
On a final note, to be appropriate for incentive programs, a destination must have the variety and quality of activities that will uniquely showcase the location and give memories for a lifetime to guests.