Travel incentive programs are incredibly motivating for many employees, but how do you level the playing field to make participation possible for the whole team? Traditionally, many incentive programs are targeted at sales representatives either internally or within the channel, where a certain quota must be met in order to qualify. Numbers-based performance is often simple to track and produces quantifiable results for companies and participants, understandably making it a popular incentive option. However, it can be discouraging for employees not in sales to feel like their hard work goes unnoticed without a proper way to incentivize and recognize their contributions. Merit-based incentive programs are on the rise as a way to provide meaningful recognition to these audiences, increasing loyalty and job satisfaction while serving as motivation for future participants.
Background & Objectives
October 2019 marked the third annual Lenovo Heroes Experience, a company-wide, nomination based reward program designed to recognize Lenovo’s key players–those who went above and beyond the call of duty to bring the company to new heights in myriad ways. Because many traditional reward programs are based on quantifiable outputs, participation is limited to sales departments and other initiatives that are easy to track and measure. Lenovo wanted a way to recognize and reward not only those who work in sales, but their MVP’s across departments and across the world, as a way to show appreciation for talented employees whose contributions are just as meaningful. Program recipients were hand selected by company leadership after being nominated by their managers, and with the program open to a global roster, it was an excellent way to build community amongst a diverse, talented pool of participants with Lenovo as the common denominator. The 2019 program was based in Rome, Italy with hotel accommodations at the historic Palazzo Naiadi.
Orchestrating an overseas incentive program for an international audience does not come without its challenges, but our experienced planners were up to the task.
One of the main hurdles for this program each year is picking a location that will be desirable and feasible for a globally diverse audience. With participants arriving from all over the world, we ultimately decided on Rome as the happy medium that would limit extensive travel time but still provide the luxury destination that participants expect. On top of location, we needed to curate program experiences that would appeal to a diverse array of ages, cultures and ability levels. Additionally, we needed to secure translation support to accommodate non English-speaking participants both in pre-planning and onsite. At the heart of it all, we made it our mission to provide a recognition experience that would make participants feel genuinely celebrated, and allow for meaningful connection between company leadership and their top performers.
After deciding the location, we got to work curating a program chock full of unique experiences and meaningful recognition initiatives that would satisfy both participants and Lenovo leadership. With Rome being a popular travel destination, we knew that some participants would inevitably be repeat visitors to this historic city, while others would be visiting for the first time. We wanted to give those who had been to Rome before a unique perspective of the city that would enhance and deepen their previous travels, while simultaneously sharing a rich, traditional Roman experience with first time visitors.
To address the language barrier on the planning side and between participants, we made the registration website and program mobile app available in both English and Chinese, and had Lenovo staff supporting onsite for translation purposes.
By offering multiple excursion options, participants were able to choose which experiences were right for them. A day trip to Florence offered seasoned travelers the option to experience a different city entirely, where participants saw Michelangelo’s David and ate a traditional Italian lunch in the bustling Mercato Centrale. A walking tour of Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel made an impression on first-timers and return visitors alike, with hand-selected tour guides chosen for their insider’s knowledge about the city. For an authentic Italian experience, participants engaged in an evening of hands-on traditional pasta making and Italian cooking with a local Roman chef. Along with unseasonably warm temperatures and clear weather (an unexpected blessing), Heroes and their guests got to experience Rome to its full potential.
Keeping with program traditions, upon arrival, participants were presented with the choice of a personalized premium gift–a genuine Italian leather bag, or a Dolce & Gabbana shoe designing experience, as a nod to the program’s location. The first day rounded out with an evening reception to bring everyone together and welcome Heroes and their guests to the Eternal City. Held at Acquaroof, participants enjoyed a rooftop dinner and a show, with entertainment provided by a women’s string quartet amidst a panoramic view of the city.
The highlight and core purpose of the program was the Heroes Induction dinner, where recipients were recognized by senior leadership and celebrated for their achievements, joining an elite roster of Lenovo Heroes. The dinner and reception took place at Galleria Doria Pamphilj, a classically beautiful Roman art gallery, where guests experienced fine dining and a surprise entertainment feature. Guests were treated to a performance by a 3 Tenors tribute group, the originals being a popular Italian operatic trio during the 1990’s and early 2000’s, whose performance quickly became a favorite program feature for many attendees. Traditional Italian decor, a photo opportunity and classical violinist added to the ambiance of the evening, and the Heroes went home feeling genuinely rewarded and celebrated for their achievements.
All in all, the program was a huge success. From the program location, to the accommodations and one-of-a-kind inclusions, there was something for everyone to enjoy. Company leadership had the chance to connect with their top performers in a face-to-face setting, and global attendees received meaningful recognition for their hard work, all while building community and getting inspired for their future at Lenovo in one of the most iconic cities in the world. After a post-event survey of the participants, we received the following results:
100% of survey respondents reported that they are proud to be a Lenovo Hero, and that this program helped strengthen that attitude
100% of survey respondents reported that the Lenovo Heroes Experience was an adequate expression of appreciation for their contributions
100% of surveyed participants reported that the program location and accommodations met or exceeded their expectations
100% of survey respondents reported that the overall theme, entertainment and food at the Induction dinner met or exceeded their expectations
Pre-Event Communication received 4.9 stars out of 5 stars
100% of survey respondents agreed that communication before and during the trip made them feel prepared for upcoming events
Results At A Glance
surveyed participants who reported that they are proud to be a Lenovo Hero, and that this program helped strengthen that attitudesource
surveyed participants who reported that the Lenovo Heroes Experience was an adequate expression of appreciation for their contributionssource
surveyed participants who reported that the program location and accommodations met or exceeded their expectationssource