Ensuring Your Incentive Trip Actually Incents

ITA Group
ITA Group

Your organization has managed to assemble a very talented group of sales people. Your competitors would welcome many of them with open arms. But, fortunately, they work for you—at least for now. How do you keep them satisfied and engaged, knowing they could make the same amount of money (or more) elsewhere? This is where a sales incentive trip comes into play. It can be a valuable retention strategy—but only if executed properly.

Follow these four tips to ensure you’re presenting the most compelling trip, while motivating your team and maximizing ROI: 

  1. Dangle the carrot

Never underestimate the importance of momentum. One of the biggest mistakes companies make is delaying the announcement of the incentive trip destination. Launch the incentive as early as you can, with as much detail and fanfare as possible! If you have valuable sales people who are on the fence about whether to stay or leave, this is a prime opportunity to keep their knowledge and talent for another year. 

  1. Give attendees an experience they couldn’t get on their own

If your sales people are good at their jobs, they probably make a pretty decent living. It’s likely they can afford to treat themselves, and their families, to a vacation at a top resort. This means you have to raise the stakes and offer them an experience they’re unable to acquire on their own, no matter how much money they make. Ask yourself this: Which would motivate you to sell more in the coming year? Dinner on the beach in Hawaii or dinner on The Great Wall? And which experience do you think would create the most post-program buzz? So how do you afford it all? It’s simple: Leverage your buying power. Enlist the help of an experienced event management company. You’ll be surprised at the strings that can be pulled (and the amazing experiences that result) when you have a program budget for 250 attendees and a well-connected event partner.  

  1. Be in sync with your brand

A sales incentive trip can seriously influence your brand equity. A company that touts creativity, innovation and sophistication as their hallmarks can quickly be undermined by a travel destination that turns out to be mundane or too widely accessible. Build your brand with an aspirational program with a built-in “buzz factor.” Consider a wine tasting tour in France or an African safari. Sure, it will require more effort to plan and execute, but you will get your investment back. And then some. Trips that are in sync with your brand’s attributes not only pay out in the short term, but also well into the future as attendees socialize their experience throughout your organization.

  1. Familiarity breeds indifference

Removing the element of surprise is the kiss of death for an incentive trip. This is especially true if a significant percentage of your sales force qualifies for the program year after year. Offering the same location, activities or room gifts leaves little to the imagination. As soon as your program becomes predictable or stale, you’ve lost your edge. And once this happens, your incentive no longer incents. Even worse, your ROI takes a nose dive.

Bottom Line: Use your imagination and reap the rewards. And as you draft your budget, keep in mind that a well-designed incentive trip can essentially pay for itself.