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Incentive trips go family-style

If a destination holiday is the reward for hitting a target, shouldn’t family members be rewarded, too?

By James Hale

It is the rare person who leaves their business life at the office. Meeting sales or performance goals often involves sacrificing some family time or, at least, some cheerleading from the home team. If a destination holiday is the reward for hitting a target, shouldn’t family members be rewarded, too?

Increasingly, says Damion Thompson, group sales manager for Half Moon, A RockResort, in Jamaica’s Montego Bay, companies are expanding incentive trips to include spouses and children. “We definitely see an uptick in corporate travel where kids are part of the package,” he says. So, while the adults are learning the finer points of polo at Half Moon’s equestrian centre, the youngsters can interact under expert supervision with ponies or donkeys.

“We always offer the option of including family members in our incentive trips,” says Janice Gerol, Toronto-based vice-president and general manager for the Canadian and Mexican operations of The Pampered Chef. “We’re a family-oriented company, and it would be a deterrent if we didn’t provide the buy-in option.”

In addition, every five years, The Pampered Chef offers four-person family incentive travel to one of North America’s two Disney properties.

Gerol says inclusion must be the overriding planning principle, such as ensuring that single travellers do not feel isolated, and that babysitting or teen supervision services are available at the destination. She says planning should include parents, too.

“The most successful approach is to have children involved at every stage,” she says, recommending that employees encourage their kids to help them track their progress toward an incentive goal.

Once the family is on the trip, ensure that business stays behind. Make the trip a family experience to remember.

“Including family members adds to the bonding objective of incentive trips for organizations,” says Thompson. “A great family trip can help build motivation and loyalty.

Family-friendly incentive trip how-tos:
• Establish what services are covered and who pays for extras.
• Ensure that those with family members are seated together at meals.
• Keep all family members engaged and happy.
• Don’t schedule work-related meetings during the events.
• Include some private, family-only events.

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