Incentive travellers are increasingly placing a high value on
engaging experiences as well as prioritsing unscheduled blocks of time
to relax and decompress. So where does learning fit into these emerging
expectations of what incentive travel can truly deliver?
This question was posed during a recent SITE webinar, with a panel
featuring Adam Milczarek, senior business management at Taiwan-based
destination management company Taiwanlook, Jason Yeh, CEO of meeting
solution provider GIS Group and Cate Banfield, COO of event management
company Wynford, with the discussion moderated by Annette Gregg, CEO of
Balancing programming and education
Milczarek said an educational element is inherent to an authentic
experience, and without this, incentive programmes can feel empty and
become simply ‘tourism’.
“If you're joining a tour, you're basically riding on this one
railcard that shows you beautiful things,” he said. “But you need to
have an underlying understanding [of the destination and culture] to
start thinking in a different way. Just grab some ideas, inspire and
bring these back to companies and to your teams - once the client
understands that, it's very easy.”
The panel also discussed whether there was a magic formula for the
balance between programming and education and downtime, with Banfield
saying that very few people who go on an incentive travel programme want
to be programmed within every minute of every day.
If people have time to reflect and be in the moment, they'll often start sharing some of these things, which can add weight to an experience as well. It also allows you to place your budget where you're going to make the most impact.
Cate Banfield, COO, Wynford
“There can be too much programming - we’re really not identifying
those white spaces within programme design that do allow people to
relax,” she said. “If people have time to reflect and be in the moment,
they'll often start sharing some of these things, which can add weight
to an experience as well. It also allows you to place your budget where
you're going to make the most impact.”
Gregg reflected on an event hosted by SITE last year, where sessions
were repeated so that attendees didn’t feel the pressure of missing out
an experience and where the education sessions were tied to an
indigenous element and reflective of the local culture.
Catering to the different personas
The panel also debated the best way to measure the impact and
effectiveness of an incentive, with GIS Group’s Yeh suggesting that
getting people’s feedback on their way back from an incentive is a
valuable metric, capturing testimonials in the heat of the moment.
Yeh suggested that education elements of an incentive could also be
linked to CSR (corporate social responsibility) and sustainability
goals, for example, by including food sourced from a local farmer.
Raise some curiosity about the destination, come up with the programme and then add the educational component.
Jason Yeh, CEO, GIS Group
“Raise some curiosity about the destination, come up with the
programme and then add the educational component,” he said. “And take
into account the different ways that people learn: some people learn by
watching, some by listening to speech, others by touch. Every person is
very different so we need to be aware of creating a programme that
accommodates these differences.”
And if you are creating an experience for an incentive programme, is
the first thought about the potential impact on participants, or is it
on how easily the experience can be measured and the extent to which it
can deliver ROI for the client?
“At the end of the day, if you create a programme that is designed
around the participants, their personas, their likes, and create a truly
authentic, immersive experience that makes these stories, memories and
connections, the ROI will come,” said Banfield.