Incentive travel is changing. What worked in the past, the opulence and extravagance of choosing the most expensive, lavish options just for the sake of it, no longer works just because and can leave your attendees feeling uninspired. The industry is moving toward authenticity and individualization, specifically the five C’s of incentive travel programs: culture, cuisine, community, content and customization.
Whereas incentive travel programs in the past might have flown participants to an exotic location only to have them never venture past the resort walls, such is not the case today! In the digital age of impersonal social media, what do people crave now more than ever in their travel experiences? Authenticity. Connection. Meaningful experiences that go beyond surface level tourist traps, letting them truly see a culture through the eyes of the locals. With incentive travel programs, we have the opportunity to create an entirely unique cultural experience for your channel partners to treat them not as tourists, but as travelers.
Choose activities for trip winners that immerse them in the local culture. Curate experiences that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to make for themselves. Immerse them in the best of the local culture, and you will create a truly unforgettable incentive travel program for your desired audience.
Similar to culture, more and more often we now see local cuisine taking a prominent seat at the table in incentive travel. Food is the universal language! Local cuisine is a great opportunity to allow trip winners to experience the culture of the location in a top-of-the-line, uniquely customized way. From cooking classes to local-inspired fare at an evening dine-around, options for incorporating local cuisine are endless.
Bonding together over shared culture and culinary experiences also helps bring about a sense of community among your incentive trip winners. Additionally, including company executives in the incentive program shows reward winners that their contributions are valued and important. Top tier programs make your channel partners feel as though they are part of an exclusive club—then, once they return home, they will do the work for you by sharing their experience with fellow employees, incentivizing others for future programs. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tactics, along with the desire to be part of an exclusive community. Cultivating this sense of community in your incentive program is a win-win.
What would an incentive travel program be without quality content? Of course, the aforementioned topics are crucial in crafting a desirable trip. But where many companies fall short is believing that the destination will do all the work for them. False—the magic is in the details. Consistent, beautiful branding at every touch point makes a positive impression on reward winners and sets your program apart from the competition. By creating a brand for your program that blends your company’s communication stratgy with trip-specific details, you create much needed cohesion that seamlessly blends all elements of the trip together.
Customization is the last piece of the puzzle in creating a wildly successful rewards program. Simply put, money may motivate most of your channel partners, but some partners crave praise and recognition. Still, others may want whatever your company manufactures, but they consider it a luxury item.
The best way to make each channel partner feel appreciated is to offer diverse reward options to fit channel partners’ individual desires. Not only is the partner extremely satisfied with the reward, but they will also understand that you went the extra mile to show your appreciation.
Even though your award recipients know that they are not the only channel partners with whom you interact, offering customized rewards sets your program apart from the competition, incentivizing channel partners even more. An incentive rewards program tailored to their needs and desires provides just such treatment.
Tricky, but not impossible
Managing the five Cs of a channel partner incentive program can seem daunting at first. For travel rewards, cultural immersion and cuisine reflect the globalization seen in most companies and economies. Creating a sense of community benefits both you and your channel partners at the same time. Content provides you with the chance to show attention to detail as another facet of your appreciation for your channel partners. Customization ties everything together so that each channel partner feels like an integral part of your organization.
When choosing an incentive program partner, pick one with years of experience in providing positive reward programs. ESG Incentives not only knows how to please your partners but also ensures that the entire experience elevates your company.