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How to make your company’s incentive trip extraordinary

Hello, my name is Christopher Hill, founder of Hands Up Incentives. Thank you for giving us this opportunity to highlight how to make your reward program amazing. Firstly, we will run through an overview of the incentive travel planning process. Next, we show how to align your incentive travel program with your company’s culture, size and available budget. Finally, we reveal how to get more out of your incentive trip, by including a Community Development component which provides the following additional benefits:

Higher employee engagement as your staff sees the human face of your brand; Positive publicity and furthering of your Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR�) agenda; Stronger, more cohesive teams; Greater innovation potential, as employees learn new skills and gain inspiration from experiences outside their regular boundaries; Easier recruitment of top new talent; Lower cost of capital; Higher sales and profits;

Inspire your workforce to higher levels of motivation, engagement and performance; an incentive program with an ethical element is one of the very best ways to do this, as this guide will demonstrate. Examples of the kinds of activities your group might participate in would be: Help build an IT room at an impoverished school Renovate an orphanage or a medical clinic Construct houses for people who could otherwise not afford to have a decent place to live Let’s start with an overview of the planning process, followed by some tips so that you can make the most out of researching, booking and executing your incentive trip.

Planning your incentive travel program: Corporate incentive travel is a proven tool, effective in motivating and rewarding your top performing employees. The reward can apply to groups and individuals and can take on many guises and include multiple destinations. The key to success lies in careful planning. Here is an overview of the process, from the first decision to offer incentive travel rewards, through to the final evaluation: A. The decision is made to offer an incentive travel reward, who will be eligible and the criteria determining who will qualify. B. The destination is chosen, and costs are established.

C. Sales or performance targets are set. These needn’t be decided on in isolation and you should consider a consultation on what might be reasonable with your staff. At this point you should also decide on the deadline for achieving said targets. The targets will give you a good base for calculating the likely Return on Investment (ROI).

F. Employees like to know where they stand, so be sure to maintain regular monitoring of each person’s performance against the target levels. These can be as public/private as you initially decide on.

D. Talk to the travel company you have chosen to work with and look into making reservations for hotels and flights, or at least making sure that there is availability or the option to hold a reservation until you’re ready to fully commit.

H. The staff that hit their target are informed. For those that did not, it’s important not to demoralize them. As you inform them, suggest ways that they could improve with a view to the next incentive program.

E. During the qualification process, make sure to maintain regular communication with the workforce. Perhaps think about setting up an internal blog, or keep excitement levels high by showcasing the rewards, perhaps by making a video of the destination.

I. Build excitement around the trip for those that are going to be attending. Local weather reports, news items on the destination and itinerary suggestions are all going to keep the momentum going.

G. The deadline is reached, and participating staff are evaluated against their targets.

J. There are always basic administrative duties to perform, and these should have

been given to you via a list from your travel provider. These include items such as up to date and valid visas, the appropriate vaccinations, etc.

Questions to ask to align your incentive travel program with your company’s culture, size and available budget.

program should accomplish, both in general and in terms of justifying the program to management or the board of directors. Typical targets include an increase in sales, higher production levels, a reduction in defective product output, or perhaps fewer sales returns or a boost in sales contracts. Try to assign a monetary value to the improvement or reduction you have identified, such as an absolute amount of units or contracts, a share, or a simple monetary figure. Keep in mind that you may also want to include employees whose performance is not directly measurable in terms of sales or productivity, such as your Human Resources department or support staff. Talk to your incentives provider, as they should be able to suggest suitable metrics for assessing these employees.

A. What are the goals of the incentive travel program?

B. Who is the target group for your reward program?

It’s important from the beginning to determine exactly what the reward

This could be anyone, depending on your goals. Is it the management team, any of

K. The trip takes place! L. Feedback is an integral part of the process. Complete as detailed an evaluation as you can, whether it’s through questionnaires or individual or group interviews. The more you can show that the group took away from the trip, the more likely a more permanent program is to be instated.

the employees, top-performing sales people, or perhaps even your customers? C. What interests your target group? Talk to your target audience about what would motivate them. By finding out what their interests and preferences are you can help get them excited and performing at a top level. This can easily be done through paper or electronic surveys or interviews. D. What level of performance or improvements should be expected? Consider past performances over time and establish reasonable but challenging tasks for your target group. Aim for a sensible level. Make it too easy and they won’t feel they’ve earned it, make it ridiculous and they won’t try. E. How much can you reasonably sacrifice? Decide how long you can be with your top performers out of the office, possibly

with limited internet and phone contact. Staff remaining in the office may have to cover for them, so make sure that this doesn’t become a demoralizing factor. F. How will you measure if people hit their targets? Use a performance tracking system that is clear and measurable to track incentive program progress. Talk about how public/accessible people would be comfortable with during the qualification period. Your incentive provider should have suggestions for such a system. G. Should the assessment be outsourced? This is an option if the assessment process is very time consuming, so weigh up costs and decide if you want to manage the system internally or outsource the process to an agency. H. What other factors may impact? Be aware of issues such as market conditions, organizational structure and

employee morale as they may all impact on the program. I. Will there be a tax? Be aware of any tax implications, as travel can be taxable to recipients under certain conditions. These conditions obviously change from country to country, but again, your incentives provider should have the necessary tax rules to hand. J. Whom to choose? Make sure that your incentive travel provider understands your needs and goals and budget and that you understand their cancellation policies. If the qualification process is a long and involved one, then the likelihood of changes or even cancellations is a real one, so make sure that there is a minimum risk of losing deposits, etc, at every stage of the process. K. What are the lessons?

On completion, make sure you interview both winners and non-winners to ascertain the impact that he program had and how to improve it for next time. Most important of all, use the inspirational nature of the travel reward to encourage and enthuse your target audience. Shout about it on various media (internal communications, as well as public social media) and make sure participants know what is at stake so that they are excited to be in the running. L. What’s your budget? Different companies obviously have different budgets. Even if you can’t afford to whisk your top performers off to an exotic destination on a private jet, you can still develop an inspirational and motivational program for your staff. Many companies add other elements, such as meetings or team building to their incentive trips, to justify a slightly larger spend. These elements can also bring their own tax advantages.

The style of the accommodation and destination will depend on your target audience. After all, the aim of the reward is to motivate and inspire higher performance, so the more memorable remarkable the reward, the greater the greater the drive to achieve. This in turn results in higher levels of attachment to and engagement with your company.

If the reward is for a group of executives used to staying in five star hotels, then perhaps a 3 star hotel will not seem exciting, but for a young wide eyed sales team it may be perfect. Most travel incentives range from three nights to a week, but weekend getaways can also suit smaller budgets. Remember – incentive travel should effectively be risk-free and cost your company nothing. How? The beauty of incentive trips is that they only take place if your staff hit their targets, so if you build the cost of the trip (and much more) into the targets, the trip more than pays for itself in that the only people going have generated more value to your company than the trip costs. M. Will you allow a spouse or children to accompany your employee? It might be worth surveying them to see what the potential

participants would like. The destination, duration of the trip, nature of activities once there and budgetary issues will also factor into this decision.

Making the trip extraordinary: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become an important factor for all businesses to consider. Stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, shareholders, and employees often favor companies that have a CSR program in place. As well as providing a PR-friendly range of activities that show the company in a good light, a good CSR program builds long term value and more engaged employees, meaning lower turnover and greater profitability. Added to this, of course, is the fact that your company is benefitting the local community and wider environment alike. Traditional incentive trips, where employees are wined and dined, with perhaps a cursory activity thrown in, are all well and good, but the best return on investment in incentive trips lies in those that are truly worthwhile, by benefitting local communities.

Adding a CSR element to your incentive trip reaps multiple rewards for the participants and the company itself: The best possible team building. Involving employees in a project that benefits a local community creates indelible memories, a powerful team spirit and employees that are notably more engaged with your company.

Next Steps For a case study of how another company has made their incentive trip extraordinary, click here. Contact us for your free, no obligation, Rewards Audit. This audit will: Assess your current reward and recognition program; Identify how it can be improved; Assess how well your company’s CSR policy is integrated Visit the Hands Up Incentives website ( or call one of our expert advisors on 201 984 5372 in the US, and 0207 193 1062 in the UK. On our website, you can also visit our blog, follow us on twitter or sign up to our newsletter.

Commitment to CSR naturally dovetails into typical corporate objectives, including improved customer service, sales and profits. As well as changing the ethical nature of your company, CSR can lead to innovation in products and services, all of which reflect your corporate values. Over time, your brand is stronger.

On behalf of Hands Up Incentives, thanks again and we hope to inspire you soon! Christopher Hill Hands Up Incentives

About Hands Up Incentives Hands Up Incentives was founded in 2003 by Christopher Hill, a former investment banker who noted that incentive trips had the potential to do much more than reward and motivate staff. His experience of building houses in townships in South Africa sparked the idea of including activities such as this to incentive trips, thus enabling companies to also benefit from stronger, more engaged teams, an enhanced CSRreputation, and even higher sales and profits…a ‘triple bottom line’ approach that sustainably benefits communities, the environment, and a company’s profitability.

Extraordinary incentive trip guide  

Your guide to how to plan for an amazing incentive trip that not only rewards and motivates your staff, but also engage and build strong tea...

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