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Creating Meaningful Incentive Travel Experiences

In order to create business performance breakthroughs, organizations must look towards incentive programs that are more meaningful, motivational and memorable from the participants’ viewpoint.


March 27, 2012

By Jim Ruszala

One year ago, on MeetingsCanada.com, our first Incentive Insight blog ran, Why Incentive Travel Trumps Cash? In that blog, we discussed the fact that in order to create business performance breakthroughs, organizations must look towards incentive programs that are more meaningful, motivational and memorable from the participants’ viewpoint.

Since then, Maritz Travel has been working with the Site Foundation and the Incentive Travel Council to conduct a market study that delves deeper into these areas.

The principle of this market study is to help better understand incentive travel design and how program sponsors can better inspire and engage participants from their viewpoint. ‘What do they find more meaningful, motivational and memorable’ was the essence of this initiative.

Here are a few highlights to consider:

• ‘Meaningful’ represents clearly defined rules, fair and attainable goals, effective communications and ongoing feedback on performance measurement. When earners and non-earners were asked whether or not “I receive ongoing feedback that helps me understand my progress,” 15 per cent disagreed and 24 per cent were neutral. This tells us that one out of every three incentive-travel participants would benefit from more formalized and ongoing feedback to get and keep them engaged.

• ‘Motivational’ has to do with a set of value factors that both appeal and contribute to a participant’s level of active engagement throughout the lifecycle of the program. More than 70 per cent of respondents found fewer mandatory company functions more motivating. This just goes to show you that “free-time” is a precious consideration point that should be more strongly thought through during program design.

• ‘Memorable’ considers engaging experiences that result in short- and long-term value, both at the participant and organizational level. We asked earners to tell us their levels of emotional intensity they valued in such areas as team camaraderie, connecting with managers and leaders, aspects of the destination and others. While each had respective levels of positive emotional intensity, it was ‘aspects of the destination’ that stood out. The destination provided much more positive emotional intensity on a scale of 3 to 1. Destination choices are not just important, but truly set the stage for participant engagement and long-lasting, memorable experiences.

An important consideration is that the Participant Viewpoint research was a U.S. National study. Organizations can and do vary case-by-case. However, the main point is that the areas of ‘meaningful, motivational and memorable’ represent interdependent considerations toward more effective incentive-travel design. It’s a three-legged stool, so any one or two without the other(s) can and will likely fall short in creating the inspiration organizations are hoping to achieve in support of effectively meeting business goals.

To connect with ongoing Participant Viewpoint study findings and releases, please visit the Site Foundation or Incentive Travel Council website resource centers.



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