The benefits of an incentive travel scheme
An incentive travel scheme boasts a range of benefits for companies looking to drive employee motivation, increase performance and promote a productive, thriving environment.
In the past, our incentive events have led to proven return on investment and exceeded sales targets for our clients. Read the account from one of our clients below about how their incentive travel program offered long-term, sustained benefits to their multi-national brand:
Marketers are frequently challenged with defining corporate incentive programs that will grow sales, increase customer satisfaction and retention, and generate an acceptable return on investment (ROI). I have been a marketing director for over twenty years, in three different industries, and I have encountered many marketing practitioners who have struggled to find a solution that meets these three objectives. I’ve been there myself, I’ve 'got the t-shirt', and I know how difficult it can be.
And yet, it can be done. One of the most effective solutions I have used was based around an incentive travel program.
Let me tell you how it worked.
For ten years, I was the Marketing Director of Europe’s largest manufacturer of carpet underlay and flooring accessories with respected brands. The business is a market leader with a high UK share (approximately 50%), manufacturing and distributing to over 70 countries. The company sells to a relatively small audience of retailers and distributors where there are a high proportion of owner-managers.
Oh, and for added complexity, there is an excess of supply and products are easily substitutable.
Our marketing strategy was to better utilise our already strong relationships with our larger customers by increasing our share of their business. If we could do that, we could generate profitable sales growth, but it was critical that we retained this business against competitor intrusion. From this background we developed the incentive travel scheme, 'The Platinum Club'.
The Platinum Club
'The Platinum Club' was devised with the support of First Event, an event management company based in Leeds. Having decided to create the incentive travel program, we invited proposals from four such businesses and we chose First Event because of their experience, their commitment to tailor a programme to meet our needs and, crucially, because of their understanding that this was a marketing program and not just an 'event'.
“Many event management companies are great at organising events, but we needed more than that. The first event team excelled at creating an itinerary that suited our needs and our customers’ needs.”
The proposition of 'The Platinum Club' was simple. We targeted a few dozen of our larger customers and set them a challenging, but achievable, target for their purchases from us. Great thought went into constructing these targets. In each case we had a rationale for it, for how the customer could achieve the target.
This was made up of the products we knew they needed, but could be purchased from us rather than a competitor. Invariably, the sales objective was to gain competitor share. This was critical. When the targets were discussed with the customer, we would also discuss with them our plan for how it could be achieved. It was vital that the customer agreed that the target was fair and achievable, even it required something of a stretch.
The promotion would run for a full year and we would provide monthly updates on their progress to date. The sales team’s role was critical. They had to take ownership of the target and use 'The Platinum Club' as a strategic sales tool to help them achieve their targets for their customers and for their territories.
'The Platinum Club' was not a standalone incentive scheme. Rather, it was integrated into, and fully complemented, our sales and marketing strategy.
The incentive travel benefits: what did the customers get in return?
The incentive reward was a true, five star experience in a luxurious international destination such as Dubai, New York or Barbados. Each qualifying customer was allocated two places. Typically, the incentive trip itself was for four nights including economy return flights, five star hotel, transfers, dinners and some half day excursions to see something of the destination itself. Key members of our sales team would also attend, providing the opportunity to get to know our customers a little better outside of the normal business environment. Our Sales Director and CEO participated fully in the event and their presence emphasised how much we valued the customers and our commitment to working with them productively.
"Did it work? Emphatically, yes. The platinum club delivered incremental growth averaging 15-20% over a seven year period at an ROI in excess of 200%."
Customer responses to the incentive travel events were universally positive, with satisfaction levels at 95-100%, and the incentive program made a significant contribution to improving our business relationships and retaining key customers.
All the key stakeholders benefited from it. The customers had a truly unforgettable experience and were made to feel special and valued. Our sales team had a unique initiative to help them grow sales and retain key customers. It proved particularly effective in countering competitor activity. Our competitors did not run such an incentive travel program and, in many cases, there was little they could do to overcome it.
First Event have proven, in my opinion, to be an outstanding event management company. Led by Richard Murphy, First Event’s Managing Director, they have always understood our business objectives and what 'The Platinum Club' was there to do. Many event management companies are great at organising events, but we needed more than that. The First Event team excelled at creating an itinerary that suited our needs and our customers’ needs.
They worked hard in negotiating with airlines, hotels and local agents to get the best deal for us, and they were committed to an on-going process of continuous improvement. Several customers qualified for multiple events over the years, and so their expectations were always high. There is a clear need to continually improve the events, cost effectively, so that customers remained motivated. First Event always delivered and never took us or our customers for granted.
“so, an incentive travel event can succeed as a strategic marketing program. It helped to develop long-term sales growth, delighted customers who were motivated to stay with us, and produced a profitable result. If such a corporate incentive travel program complements your business strategy, then talk to first event. It could be one of the best business decisions you ever make.”
To find out more how we can help to create and deliver an event to meet your business needs, get in touch today.