Wednesday, 17 November 2010

BUDGET BUSTING – can we afford to drop Incentive Travel

YESwell, actually NO.

It needn't be long-haul champagne
to have a great craic
But we can re-engineer it to suit economically revised budgets and still drive the additional passion to succeed.

Unchecked, incentive costs can often run away with themselves.

Around the Boardroom table there’s usually:
  • one who flies the Incentive Travel flag, appreciating how much ‘the guys’ thrive knowing the late nights will be rewarded as he and his wife will soon be off to Tenerife with the rest of his winning south west region team.
  •  The FD pours over spreadsheets tutting at the five star locations and business class travel, all for three nights away with no proof of sales increase accounted to the cost.
  • The MD sports the arbitrator’s hat carrying Travel as the d riving force to motivate key players but directing that the costs must be cut.
Tunisia's Arabian Nights
are just a short 3 hours away

How do we get more from less. Yes, we need to deliver more in terms of event effectiveness because we need the teams that travel and franchises we reward to come home feeling as buzzed as they would have been if the event cost 30% more.
I spoke with ‘sales leader’ recently who had “…tried Incentive Travel and it didn’t work…”. Let’s look at the three key elements here and see if “didn’t” can be turned into “will”:

We have covered some of the criteria that make the event an Incentive as opposed to an irrelevant date in the diary.

 In short it has to be clearly structured. If there are rules, keep them simple and make qualification a raised bar but deliverable opportunity – something that is worth working towards. And don’t take universal interest for granted – work your internal CRM to communicate / sell the benefits.

Put the effort into selling the Incentive, they'll put the effort into buying it.

Fewer numbers open smaller, wonderful hotels
with a different outlook - on Barcelona perhaps.

Don’t forget that we’re Budget Busting so need a cap. If 50 usually travel, the biggest saving comes from taking fewer heads, 44. The carrot has to be as juicy but the rules preclude a total win win. We need the incremental sales from the non-qualifiers as well as from those who will travel. And they need to be attributable to keep the FD happy.
  • Detailed – yet simply packaged.
  • Universal – yet with qualified selectivity.
  • Random – yet progressively manageable.


Racing isn't an all-round winner -
so try the Baden Baden August meet.

One man’s joy is another’s worst nightmare. So how do you pick a destination / venue to drive all?

There are key components that combine to make the event a success or a great success. 

The destination can always be tailored to suit the group profile. This tailoring is part of the selection process, but more importantly dictates the nature of the event once there. The itinerary – what you do: where and how you dine; how much or little should be organised; how much team herding or how little.

To build the itinerary to deliver something for everybody, we need to know who the ‘everybody’ is.

Getting there dictates the amount of effort your successful delegates (guests, please) must make to physically participate. For a national or internationally distributed sales force, the more local we can make the point of departure, the more universal the effort to succeed. Efficient transfers, minimal airport check in times. Fluent hotel check ins and more importantly check outs.

Budget Busting at the Travel end of the Incentive is the thinking planners’ joy:
Ljubljana, Slovenia is a picture postcard
incentive on a budget
  • There are exciting destinations slightly off the beaten track though equally accessible.
  • Flight operators’ price structures often make them less costly to reach.
  • There are fantastic four star hotels providing every comfort of the five star at the other end of the lake, and
  • because they are not on the ‘conference’ trail they are off the price hike radar.
  • There are restaurants whose chef is proud to push the culinary boundaries beyond the take-it-for-granted chain hotel venue.
  • There are creative itineraries that keep everybody busy, happy, interested, focused.
  • And there are destinations that itinerise themselves - all reducing transfer, guide and itinerary costs.

Simple really.
The more that goes into planning, packaging and promoting the Travel Incentive, the more they’ll put into qualifying to get there.


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