Since 2005, I have worked with a national distributor of plumbing, HVAC, and electrical supplies on their annual incentive group travel program. Selecting the right destination for this performance based incentive program is a very critical element to a successful program. Though surveys and focus groups can be helpful in gauging the desires of participants, industry experience plays a large role when it comes to knowing what destinations will work for a particular group. We spent our first four years visiting the best of the best properties in the Caribbean and Mexico where the weather was always perfect and the high energy fun never stopped. Despite the success of those programs, I felt like it was time to do something different and the client and I ultimately decided on a 7-night Alaskan Cruise which set sail in August of 2012.
Based on the success of the warm weather trips to popular beach destinations, I was nervous about how the participants would respond to something totally different. Even before the cruise set sail, I was very excited and relieved to see the overwhelmingly positive response we received from participants during our customer enrollment period. Many commented that Alaska was on their “bucket list” and that having the chance to earn the trip by increasing their purchases with my client was a very compelling opportunity.
Selecting Alaska turned out to be a home run. We had 20% more participation than ever before, and a record number of customers earned the trip. We were pleasantly surprised that our “sun and fun” client adjusted very well to the new sights, sounds, and weather in Alaska.
When we got close to our departure date, my eyes were focused on the weather channel, and as it turned out we were very fortunate that the weather cooperated for the entire trip. The views from the ship and in the ports of call were absolutely breathtaking. The relaxing and low key atmosphere was very different than what my client was use to with the Caribbean and Mexico, but it seemed to work well. At the end of the day, my fears about moving away from the “sun & fun” destinations for Alaska were unfounded. The risk we took in the beginning turned out have a huge payoff not just for the client, but for all the participants as well.
Sometimes choosing tried and true destinations for a group incentive trip is the right choice, but for some clients, going somewhere off the beaten path can add a much-needed jolt to the program. For more information on group incentive travel site selection, download the free whitepaper below.