There are ways to ensure travel stays high on your client’s list of rewards as well as driving improved motivation and engagement.

SUE JACKSON
Solterbeck

Recent research has told us that 61.9 per cent of respondents agreed that more frequent promotion of a travel incentive program would be “more motivating” to “very much more motivating” and that 20 per cent of the value of a program spend on program communication lifts motivation by a whopping (over) 60 per cent!

That’s a very appealing equation!

So do client organisations limit their success and ROI (return on incentives) by skimping on their program communication? Are we as professionals selling our clients on the importance of this strategic lever enough? Or, are we only selling the reward?
We know that incentive programs give us many levers to adjust, such as balancing (shrinking) budgets, careful structuring of program content and reward levels and the need to keep motivation and engagement humming amongst participants. But has something fallen through the cracks? And could travel incentives risk losing appeal to your clients?

Travel remains a powerful motivator; that’s clear. What is less clear is how powerful. The most successful travel-based incentive programs will maximise each strategic moment for motivation. Factors such as the trip length, destination, partner inclusion and results before, during and after the experience, offer these strategic moments to communicate and motivate.

3 secrets for program communication

1. Create a program identity (or brand)

Regardless of product, if there is a clear, meaningful identity created for the program, it can immediately translate to an emotional belief in what’s on offer. A branded program banner heralds good news and provides the shorthand connection to the program that increases engagement. Every program benefits from an identity and, when developed at the outset, helps participants understand what they are part of, and where the horizon lies.
It also means you can embed business objectives in the program brand (eg: “Success 1000!”) while also delivering cut through. It’s a faster, more cost-effective way to establish the playing field and parameters of the program.

2. Take the audience on a journey

Adding impetus by creating a journey will keep the message fresh and means that each strategic moment can unfold more reasons for more participants to keep connected and motivated. Stages will appear more attainable and allow them to imagine the experience that awaits well before they earn their reward.
53.6 per cent of respondents said “more information on the destination” would be more motivating to “very much more motivating” to their involvement in an incentive travel program, and the more direct that communication is, the better.
An exciting launch brings the destination to life, and incremental iterations, with planned step-by-step ‘strategic moment’ announcements, keeps them looking forward to the next signpost of success. This can be achieved easily using the many traditional methods (posters, intranet branding, news bulletins, leader-boards) and social media channels (twitter, blogs, RSS feeds, Instagram, etc) now available, as well as regular face to face and team-building activities (eg; destination focused social activities, presentations from previous participants, etc.) along the way.

3. Celebrate Success

The communication value of a program doesn’t end once the successful participants are announced. The ROI from a program can keep growing even after a program ends.
By communicating personal success, the way opens to embed business objectives and engagement in the next program. You can also reduce the cost-burden of building awareness for the next program and simultaneously provide content for your future program communications.
Simple techniques using social media (Instagram, Blogs, Pinterest, Foursquare and Vimeo for example), allow for instant testimonials, sharing of photos and experiences and create loads of opportunities for employees to coach and encourage one another.
Consider these three simple strategies, and you will help to increase participant engagement and maximise the motivational power of the whole program, not just the power of the destination.

Sue Jackson is the executive chairman of Solterbeck. Visit www.solterbeck.com for further details.

+ Site and Incentive Travel Council research report = Incentive Travel The Participants Viewpoint Part II – Motivational Value of Incentive Travel.

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