Suppliers revel when their clients cry real tears of joy! But how does one achieve excellence? Why is one supplier more successful than the other? Rajeev Kohli, SITE President 2016 and Joint Managing Director, Creative Travel, outlines some fine prints of incentives business in his second column of SITE series that he is doing for TravelScapes readers
The latest SITE Index, published annually by the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence, indicates that the industry will become even more competitive for suppliers of incentive travel services. Seven in 10 survey respondents report they are currently developing newer and more creative ways to add value for their customers. With the creative standard becoming even higher, as suppliers we cannot afford to remain complacent about creating value through innovative offerings. Those that do are very likely to quickly fall behind the competition.
The purpose of an incentive program is different than the purpose of a meeting or other business event. A meeting is typically organized to educate, to plan, to bring people together in a working environment, so different factors are taken into account when planning. Yes, we want to create a motivational meeting, but not in the same way as we would with an incentive group. Incentive participants have earned the travel opportunity due to their performance, and therefore the experience needs to be meaningful to each individual guest – this is no easy task!
The bar has been raised
Today, customers’ expectations are going well beyond acquisition of a travel package and they are asking for new and exciting experiences. They expect suppliers to provide consultation and value added services and design a program that is unique, custom built, demographic appropriate, and, most importantly, drives business results.
Although operational excellence remains a key focus, creativity is an even greater focus today. A majority of incentive travel suppliers report that they are attempting to add more value through innovative event design. This may include offering more authentic destination related experiences; advising clients of local events they can take advantage of at no cost; sourcing unique venues for unconventional events; and incorporating ideas from other destinations/countries.
Incentive planning is an art
Planning an incentive program is no rocket science. It is an art. And, like every art form, suppliers need to have an inner passion to create. When you plan a meeting, you really don’t dwell upon the targeted results of the meeting and instead focus on the successful execution of the meeting. Planning an incentive program is different. You are working on touching feelings, on moving a person emotionally, on motivating higher levels of performance.
To be successful, incentive suppliers need to think outside the box and start afresh on every project. You need to take into account what will be memorable to the participants; what experiences can be organized that they would not be able to do if they visited a destination on their own and how participants can be made to feel special and motivated to succeed for the coming year. These are just some of the things suppliers need to consider during the planning of an incentive travel program.
Incentives are all about creating magical moments. With incentives one aims not at affecting the intellect or mind, but at touching one’s hearts and emotions. We revel when a participant cries real tears of joy. We jump with joy when client’s want to move mountains to reward their star performers. We cherish creating memorable experiences that last a lifetime.