Where On Earth Are We Going?

By Malcolm Fleschner

Motivation is an imprecise science and nowhere is this more evident than in the selection of incentive trip destinations. Program developers often go with their instincts: My wife and I had a great time in Cancun last year, so I’m sure that will be a great destination for the incentive trip. This is the level of thinking typically involved. Other decisions about the length of the trip and how many participants should qualify may be made with a similarly cavalier approach. As plenty of sales managers will surely note, sometimes the strategy works. Sometimes is no longer a satisfactory success rate, however, with so many resources dedicated to incentive programs these days.

Which is where Maritz, the international people performance improvement experts, come in with their new tool called Travel Insight. Designed with the incentive travel planner in mind, Travel Insight uses direct audience feedback to determine precisely what participants are looking for from a travel program in terms of the type of destination, activity options and program structure.

“Travel incentive design often is based on the past experience or gut instinct of the management team and planner,” Keith Chzran, division vice president of marketing science for Maritz Research, recently told Incentive Magazine. “This tool helps build a fact-based foundation using end-customer preferences to develop the right travel incentive program to motivate the biggest number of people.”

Travel Insight surveys potential program participants using a 15-minute questionnaire that offers up multiple what-if scenarios comparing two program options. Respondents might be asked which they would work harder to obtain – a beach getaway to Maui or a week of skiing in Aspen. Next they’re asked which of four activity options they would most and least like to do. The results are compiled so managers can determine easily which options will likely deliver the greatest motivational returns.

In a prototype of the program, Maritz surveyed 884 client participants about 15 elements of program design and 17 activities, as well as trip length, destination, open- vs. closed-ended programs, the opportunity to interact with senior management and whether they preferred to spend spare vacation time golfing, relaxing, shopping, dining out or visiting local points of interest.

Of the respondents, 76% preferred small trips with greater options to larger trips with a set itinerary. Most favored activities included sunbathing/beach time/water sports, unscheduled time and local dining. Least popular activities were ecotourism experiences and hunting/fishing.

What would your sales team members say they would like to get out of the company’s next incentive trip? Here’s one way to find out.

For more information, visit www.maritz.com.