Time for an Incentive Travel Update

Revamp and update your incentive travel program

By Fiona Wagner

Effective incentive travel programs increase profits and drive bottom-line results. But what worked one year won’t necessarily succeed the next. With overall employment rising—a 2.1 per cent increase since last year—Canadian companies are cobbling to pre-recession levels. Is your program still a good fit?

Now’s the time to dust it off and get your workforce buzzing. Here’s how.

Set goals. Define what success looks likes. “An incentive program has to align with your corporate objective,” says Kelly Argiropulos, senior account executive with Toronto-based event management company, IQ Business Events. “Otherwise there’s no point—it’s just a trip…an expense versus a revenue generator.”

Assess: Get feedback from everyone, not just past participants. “To take the middle performers and push them to the top, ask them what would be a good incentive,” says Brigitte Mondor, CMP, senior project manager of Zeste Incentive, an event and incentive program planning company in Montreal. “Don’t ask the top guy; he’s already been to the Taj Majal.”

Design: “An effective, successful performance improvement program that delivers value to an organization isn’t something that can be put together on the back of a napkin,” says Toronto-based Nicola Kastner, CMP, CMM, director, meetings and events, Carlson Wagonlit Travel. It takes assessment of external influences, such as regulatory guidelines, shifting demographics and competition, as well as budget, objectives and rewards.

Launch: Once you’ve redesigned or simply tweaked your incentive program, then it’s time to rally the troops—all of them. “The trip itself is exclusive—it’s a once-in-a lifetime experience—but the incentive program qualifications and launch should be inclusive,” says Argiropulos. That means getting buy-in from your entire audience, not just your top performers.

Maintain momentum: “Your promotional campaign has to have multiple touch points,” says Argiropulos, and use numerous mediums of communication: email, intranet and posters. “If you’re doing a quarterly result, then do a quarterly campaign aligned with your fiscal results. If it’s a sales-driven incentive program, align it with your sales goals."

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