Use this checklist to create an incentive program your clients will never forget

Use this checklist to create an incentive program your clients will never forgetAnother year means another incentive program. The constant challenge is how do you make it special and better that what may have happened the previous year? How do you create that unforgettable sales incentive trip or employee appreciation award program that your clients will never forget? These folks have worked hard for their organization, and need not only to be treated extra special, they need to be blown away by the experience. Here’s a checklist of great incentive ideas to give your clients the incentive trip of a lifetime:

  • Pick a destination that attendees would never choose on their own. While an island in the Caribbean is great, how about a trip to an active volcano, or the opportunity to see Antarctica? You want to not only impress potential winners; you also want to incentivize them to work hard to win next year’s trip. Make that extra effort to find that extra special destination.
  • Research activities that awe and inspire. Avoid the same old activities that currently attract the leisure traveller. Find the next great thrill before it goes mainstream. Ever been swimming with the whale sharks or waterfall repelling in the rainforest? Here’s a hint: ask the locals. Tell them you are looking for experiences that are off the beaten path, and extra special. You may be amazed by suggestions you hear. Ask yourself: is this a heart pumping excursion or just another processed group tour?
  • Gifts and giveaways. It doesn’t have to be something big or expensive. If it’s not something you would want and cherish, chances are your guests won’t want it either.  Create the experience from the invite process until after they are home. Consider creative invitations, like painted coconuts for an island adventure, or messages in a bottle for a cruise. Also, nightly room drops and post event photo keepsakes ensure your program extends beyond the dates on-site. Try a tasty local sweet on the pillow, or if the budget allows, monogrammed pajamas made out of silk. Here’s an extra special tip: hire a singer to deliver a gift one night in custom song (or poem) written just for your group. It will be memorable, and everyone will get a fun laugh!
  • A private pick-up never hurts. After a six-hour flight, nothing is better than being whisked away in a private sedan. This extra touch, if you can afford it, makes all the difference when your attendees arrive and when your attendees depart. Make it extra special by adding the local drink ready to go in the backseat when they enter the car. Make sure you have water/juices for your non-drinkers and let them sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Top it off with a hot or chilled face towel. This extra touch will go a long way to making the experience extra special.
  • Have plenty of meal options, but don’t make them think about it – Attendees are on the trip to be rewarded, so give them the option of great dining. Find out the hottest restaurants at your destination, and book private tables in advance. Work with the restaurant owners or executive chefs on a menu created just for your group. If possible, see if the chef has a book published and hand them out as an amenity gift (signed copies are even better). For meal functions, be sure to mix it up different nights. A trip full of organized group dinners with other winners is fun, but sometimes a couple may want to enjoy an evening on their own. Reward trips should provide freedom and flexibility especially at meal time.

Always remember, if you wouldn’t want to do it, chances are your attendees won’t either. Be creative, fun and inspiring. You want the incentive winners talking about your trip in the months after and talking about what incredible adventure you will be taking them on next year!

About the author:

Andy McNeill, CEO of AMI, is a veteran of the meetings and event industries, with more than 25 years of experience in the profession. He has assisted firms in a variety of industries including pharmaceutical, biotech, healthcare, consumer, sports marketing and investment banking. He firmly believes in the strategic meeting marketing model and provides consulting services to Fortune 100 clients on the practice. After graduation from Florida State with a degree in marketing, Andy began his career in the event marketing group at Florida State Athletics. Soon after, he launched his own event marketing company and after five years merged with a major sports marketing firm. Andy spent six years with NSG Corporation as the Senior Vice President leading the sales and marketing for the firm who produced events for over 200,000+ attendees annually across the globe. Andy and the NSG team worked with the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta to produce portions of the Opening Ceremonies. Following NSG, Andy secured the role as COO at Fanizzi Associates, one of the nation’s largest event pharmaceutical firms. There he managed the overall operations of the company who executed over 400 events annually for physicians and internal pharmaceutical clients. Revenues exceeded $40 million a year. In 2002, Andy left Fanizzi Associates, and launched AMI with the vision of owning and operating a premiere event marketing and meeting management firm. Since 2002, AMI has grown into a multi-million dollar organization producing hundreds of events annually. The firm has managed programs in more than 20 industries for clients such as Novartis, Mars, Cleveland Clinic, J & J, Baxter, Pfizer and Office Depot. Andy’s vision of keeping AMI on the forefront of meetings technology, theory and practice has made it an industry leader. He is a member of MPI, Site, and the American Marketing Association. He volunteers as a chair of the Human Rights Campaign. Andy's day-to-day responsibilities include client acquisition, consulting and overall company strategy.

Venue & Supplier Profiles