Tips for great incentives

Creating incentive travel programmes that stand out.

Multiple elements that leave clients awestruck can be incorporated into the programme on a continuous basis.
Multiple elements that leave clients awestruck can be incorporated into the programme on a continuous basis. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Kesto

Taking risks, devising detailed programmes that focus on individual needs and culture, and thinking on the spot during site inspections are just some of the elements that can turn a good incentive into a great one.

Such advice was shared by DMCs during a recent SITE webinar, entitled “What award-winning incentive programmes are doing differently”.

Understand the client’s culture and individual needs. Rhonda Brewer, vice president of sales at Motivation Excellence advised engaging with both your customers and partners from the very beginning. “It is all about teamwork and collaboration, you've got to be able to unite together because what might work for one client will not work for another, so it’s really [important to] understand the culture of that client,” she said. Assess what attendees really want and break this down from the total group to tailor this on an individual basis, diving down into as much detail as possible.

Be bold and take risks. Planners and DMCs all have their favourite destinations and their top five choices, while there are also clients who are very willing to push the envelope, so do not shy away from taking a risk and doing something completely different. As Brewer outlined, an incentive programme goes from good to great with surprises, tactics and experiences that lead to memories of a lifetime. "It can’t just be something straight off the shelf,” she said. “There’s got to be multiple elements throughout the programme that leave (clients) awestruck, and which are incorporated on a continuous basis.”

Understand the power of site inspections. Rajeev Kohli, joint managing director at Creative Travel said it was much easier to grasp incentive ideas when one is there in-person, and walking through the process. The site inspection needs to show what planners have sold but it is also an opportunity to showcase creativity, to come up with something new. Kohli said a DMC that lost a major group to a competitor because the person who carried out the site inspection ‘was very junior and very disinterested’. They lost an opportunity to shine.

Being creative with lower budgets. With budget cuts still on the agenda, incentive planners say they are being forced to think outside the box and to shy away from the more tried and tested options, as these may fall outside current budgets. “This is when you need to start talking to your supplier and ask them to meet you in the middle, to do something different or even to work with someone else,” said Kev Shannon, director of sales and marketing at Ireland-based Odyssey DMC.

Having great partners. “Our programmes are nothing without our partners and our products,” added Shannon. “These relationships are so crucial to differentiating Odyssey from other DMCs - not just in Ireland but also in other destinations across the world.”