Pack-Your-Bag Perks

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

When the economy is good and the job market is tight, tempting travel programs can help companies attract and retain motivated employees. Each year, the Society of Incentive Travel Executives, New York City, bestows Crystal Awards on the best travel-based incentive programs. Here’s a closer look at some of the top winners, who were crowned at SITE’s International Conference last December.

President’s Club

Biotech firm Centocor, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company, was holding its first President’s Club for a brand new sales force. The company wanted to impress sales reps, who would earn membership for sales performance and overall contributions to the company and the community, but had a limited budget with which to do so. It hired Harith Productions to create an event to launch the club, and Harith persuaded suppliers to give Centocor a price cut or free service to help stretch the budget.

Club members worked to earn a trip to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. Greek-themed events included an awards dinner themed “Night of Poseidon” and a beachfront “Feast of the Gods” party. The awards dinner built on thehotel’s decor to play up the Poseidon theme, with details like spandex-fabric mu rals and chair covers, centerpieces of sunken treasure, waiters in blue robes (borrowed from a local church), and a “chariot of fire” chocolate dessert. Performers costumed in blue, coral-appliqued body suits moved around the dance floor giving life to the room’s dimensional props. Each menu course was greeted with a different dance performance invoking the movements and rhythms of ocean currents and waves.

The beach party was hosted by actors playing Poseidon and his children. Guests dined on seafood and steak, with dancing, a fireworks display, and performances by actors dressed as Atlantean warriors.

Imagine Sydney

The Sydney Convention & Visitors Bureau is the driving force behind securing profitable incentive-program trips to the Australian capital, and is the first contact point for planners considering the city. To help planners identify venues and suppliers, the bureau created a reference manual for developing itineraries, sourcing theme-party ideas, and finding unique venues for special events. The bureau tapped its 500-member companies for the information.

The manual, called Imagine Sydney, uses large photos and other visuals to reduce language barriers as it is distributed worldwide. Each of the manual’s sections uses one theme to highlight the city’s natural resources, cultural and historic landmarks, or sports, and to suggest special-event options. The sections were called Water Wonderland, Arts and Culture, Adventure and Action, Shopper’s Paradise, A Taste Sensation, and Fun and Fantasy. A special section covered the 2000 Olympic Games, including the arts festival that leads up to the opening ceremonies.

A total of 10,000 manuals were distributed to qualified incentive-travel planners and corporate-event organizers at domestic and international trade shows, and sent to all planners who had worked with the bureau in the previous year. The bureau was inundated with additional requests. Imagine Sydney ultimately helped the bureau bring in $116 million (Australian) in meetings, incentive travel, convention, and exhibition business in fiscal 1999.

Mission ANZAC

South African Motor Corp. (SAMCOR) wanted to leverage a popular sporting event to spur performance during the first half of 1998. The regional leg of the 1998 Tri-Nationals Rugby Series was set for July, with games featuring three popular teams: Australia Wallabies, New Zealand All Blacks, and South Africa Springboks. South Africans fans – SAMCOR dealers included – had rugby fever, so the company leveraged that fact to launch a six-month sales campaign that rewarded the top 25 dealers with trips to Australia and New Zealand to watch key matches.

SAMCOR tapped two Cape Town agencies, Achievement Awards and Travel Awards, to design the program. The company measured market share (actual sales versus objectives), parts sales, and customer service, and gave each dealership a monthly target. Dealers who didn’t meet goals for parts sales and customer service could not qualify, no matter how great their overall sales were. A wild-card element rewarded six participants who consistently achieved their targets but were not among the top 25.

The qualification period was short, so the agencies gave communications a sense of urgency through a “Mission: ANZAC” theme. Dealers received premiums and monthly communications sporting a rug-by motif, including motivational messages from Springbok coach Nick Mallet, miniature rugby balls, results and status reports, and trip information.

Highlights of the trip included a visit to the top New Zealand dealership with the All Blacks team and tickets to the Springboks’ two Tri-Nations games (including pre- and post-game celebrations). SAMCOR says the program improved bottom-line results and strengthened manufacturer-dealer bonds and dealer camaraderie.

Master the World

Diebold, Inc., a manufacturer of self-service financial transaction systems, security products, and customer service, has a Master’s Circle rewards program for top sales reps. To qualify, reps must increase sales 15 percent over the previous year.

Since qualifiers are diverse in age, gender, ethnicity, travel experience, and interests, Diebold’s challenge is to find a destination that provides family friendliness (many qualifiers bring children), adult relaxation in a world-class setting, variety, international flavor, and championship golf. This year’s choice: Walt Disney World.

Diebold’s campaign played up the adult side of Disney World, promising a unique experience for Disney veterans by using audio, video, print, and online elements. The effort’s launch packet carried a spiral-bound brochure in a movie-reel tin, customized chocolates, and a video highlighting previous Master’s Circle programs. The brochure showed close-up shots of Disney attractions – rock climbing, animal safari, the Eiffel Tower – but didn’t name the resort until the last page.

Diebold used its intranet to host 40 Web pages with motivational messages, qualification requirements, destination information, and activities. The online component was low-cost and flexible, and encouraged Diebold associates to become intranet-savvy – a secondary goal of the program.

Trip winners enjoyed one-of-a-kind events including a barbecue on a back-lot residential street, day classes at the Disney Institute, a beach reception, and a gala farewell at the Universe of Energy. In that setting, Diebold’s staff toasted its successful year – and its future.

Festival du Cannes

London Pacific Life & Annuity competes for the attention of independent sales agents who sell its products along with those of its competitors – virtually all of whom offer exotic group travel rewards. After two years of declining sales, London Pacific needed a compelling destination to regain the attention of agents.

USMotivation suggested Cannes on the French Riviera, and built an itinerary to reward agents who boosted London Pacific sales 15 percent. But London Pacific also wanted to recruit and retain agents. Since 75 percent of first-time qualifiers will qualify again in future years, the company knew that the agents who qualified for the Cannes program would become the nucleus of its future sales force.

Winners stayed at the opulent Hotel Carlton. Activities played off the annual Cannes Film Festival. Teams were assigned a classic film title – The Barefoot Contessa, Goldeneye, or The Man in the Iron Mask – and were required to write and film their own videos.

Guests toured Monaco and Eze, stayed one night in Villafrance, and visited a medieval village during its street festival. On the last night, the group gathered in the Palais du Festivale, home of the annual Cannes Film Festival, and received awards for Best Film, Best Actor, and Best Actress after their films were shown.

The program helped push overall sales up 24 percent to $270 million. A record number of agents qualified for the trip, including 60 who had never before qualified for a London Pacific travel incentive.


Looking to improve its incentive programs, Diebold, Inc. hired USMotivation to review existing efforts. The company’s scatter-shot approach, in which divisions conducted their own programs, was confusing. No one knew how many programs were active, their objectives or target audiences, or even their effectiveness. The mostly cash programs weren’t building loyalty – staffers tended to spend their awards mostly on routine expenses, and there was little memory retention or trophy value.

The company needed a single program that was versatile enough to be used by all divisions for both short-term and long-term programs, a tracking and reporting system, and effective communication and promotion tools.

USMotivation created D-ICE (Diebold Incentive Central Exchange), a comprehensive incentive management system that enabled Diebold to run numerous and diverse programs simultaneously. The system uses Diebold’s intranet to run a point reward program. An online catalog carries 3,000 rewards including Diebold-logo products, golf clubs, jewelry, household items, and travel packages. Managersuse the site to announce a program, detail its requirements and rewards, award points, and redeem awards. D-ICE encourages employees to bank points for bigger prizes, because points don’t expire.

D-ICE debuted for Diebold’s North American Sales and Service Division with four campaigns targeting all sales and sales support personnel. Revenues increased $16 million and product gross margin increased 43 percent in the quarter after D-ICE went online.

Diebold continues to add incentives and programs as D-ICE rolls out.


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