This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.
I think that travel incentives are a fantastic product, but they are underutilized by many organizations. Thing is, if you can wrap your head around them, you’ll soon realize that you were totally missing out. The benefits of travel inside a sales comp plan is the one-two punch of travel’s ability to inspire and rejuvenate your people.
The inspirational value of giving someone a vacation, the value of time off, time to relax, time to be with family, and time to learn something and have social contact is more important than ever.
They Say: “Show Me the Money”
The most common reason I hear from managers as to why they don’t use a travel incentive, despite understanding the importance of motivating their team and keeping things fresh, is this: they think their team will prefer cash. Managers often make the fatal flaw of asking their team what they want.
“Announcements, meetings, vacations, gym memberships or golf trips can serve as effective motivators, as can training or educational opportunities, which are best when tied to specific, exemplary behavior on the job.” Forbes Coaches Council
Why You Shouldn’t Ask
So, what’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with asking your recipients what they would like before you spend thousands and thousands of dollars formulating a plan and then rewarding people with something they didn’t ask for?
The simple reason is that people don’t know what’s good for them.
As Steve Jobs famously said when asked why he doesn’t use consumer focus groups, he answered: “A lot of times people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
People will always say cash as what they want. And of course, you have to pay them cash. But a component of your compensation plan must be travel or vacation rewards because YOU need something to keep things fresh, interesting and fun inside your sales organization.
Gimme, Gimme, Gimme
The majority of people will react to what is an immediate gratification or the most immediate point of pain in their sphere. And, unfortunately for most of your sales people and most of your distribution channel, and most of your franchisees and partners, the most immediate pain point is their next Visa bill. Immediate gratification is going to be paying off part of the Visa bill, buying a TV, or some other widget.
As a leader in your organization, the problem for you is that the euphoria you created with that $1,000, $2,000, or $5,000 reward is going to be very short-lived. You will hand it out on Friday and it will be forgotten about by Tuesday – and your investment will have lasted a whopping four days!
Case Study: Thermo Pride
Thermo Pride revived their acquisition and retention program using Odenza’s incentive travel program – the incentives were promoted in newsletters, contractor publications, and throughout their sales offices across North America (you can click here to download it).
The ROI Factor
Remember ROI. The problem is that your ROI is too low on a cash incentive. As soon as that money is spent, it’s gone. There is no residual effect. For those of you into fitness, it’s like the difference between cardio and weights. When you lift weights you get a metabolic residual effect, and you continue to burn calories even after your workout is done; as opposed to cardio where you’re only going to burn calories while you’re actually in motion. The latter is simply inefficient for extended calorie burn.
Compare that to an experiential reward like a quick trip to Las Vegas, or a family trip to Six Flags, or even two tickets to a show or a football game. When you hand that prize out, the recipient immediately gets excited, then there’s the joy and pleasure while the trip is being booked, and then the excitement continues to build in anticipation of having some time off and maybe going somewhere they’ve never been before. After that, you get the memories and the water cooler talk of how great their getaway was.
All of this is without even talking about social media! Imagine the impact as they’re snapping pictures and communicating with coworkers and partners about the fabulous reward they won. And depending on what you give them, you may get years and years of positive return on that investment.
What Options Do I Have?
There are a variety of vacation offers and incentive travel trips you can utilize, which include:
This would be a prize for a sales leader and his/her spouse. Given away for meeting pre-set target levels, it’s easy to administer and easy to deliver – cruises, Vegas, a weekend getaway, Napa Valley, or a staycation.
Group incentive travel:
Think meetings or an overall trip for the sales team – even the entire company for meeting a preset profit target. Group meetings let people reconnect; and these days where teams can be spread out, it may be the only chance people get to meet, share ideas, and build comradery.
Giving a travel incentive as a reward means that you did something. It means you put some effort into thinking about your people’s well-being, and that’s important. We are all competing for talent and we may not be able to go to the extent that Google or Amazon can, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be a little bit imaginative. Be creative and give your team something that doesn’t break the bank, but at the same time delivers a memorable experience – not to mention the fantastic ROI it can offer you.
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