Perk Up Your Program

By Malcolm Fleschner

Creating effective and intriguing incentive programs doesn’t necessarily mean coming up with entirely new ideas every year. A preferable tactic may be to take the incentive ideas you’ve used before and dress them up with additional perks or other extras.

According to a recent article, many of today’s corporations are taking this approach, while reward providers, particularly those in the travel and hospitality industry, are eager to help customers spruce up otherwise humdrum programs.

Scott Walker, director of incentive and promotion certificates for Hyatt Hotels, told MeetingsNet that many of his customers are willing to sacrifice quantity for quality in hotel prize packages. “There’s an emerging incentive trend that reduces the number of nights but adds extra services,” he explains. “I’m hearing: Let’s change it from five nights to four but add extras.”

So what extras are generally added? Common options include meals, spa services and prepaid golf outings. Another possibility is including in the travel package what the industry refers to as hotel bucks. Hyatt, for example, offers Cheque Certificates with denomination values guests can redeem anywhere at the Hyatt property. Hotel bucks make an attractive option because unlike cash they can’t simply be deposited into the winner’s bank account to be used to pay the month’s gas bill.

“We built this around the end user,” Walker told MeetingsNet, “to offer the greatest flexibility. Let’s say the recipient is not a spa person and the resort offers horseback riding, something they would really like to do. With a Cheque Certificate, they can do what they want.”

There’s also the prestige factor. Incentive travel isn’t like a big screen TV or a new set of golf clubs that you can produce during an awards ceremony for everyone to gush over. So many organizations are presenting the hotel bucks to recipients in front of the entire sales team as a means of offering additional recognition.

One last tip: Another add-on that costs very little but makes a great impression on recipients is including a personal note along with a welcome gift, such as flowers, a bottle of champagne or a fruit basket, in hotel rooms when incentive recipients check in.