Now You’re Going Places

By Malcolm Fleschner

Sales incentive contests need to be actively promoted by management. Otherwise they risk making no sound, just like the proverbial tree falling in the woods with no one around. The result is limited effectiveness and a failed program. So says travel incentives expert Brooke Bryand, senior events manager for The Castle Group, a Boston-based corporate rewards and events management firm. Planning for an effective promotion and communication campaign begins when you’re developing the program’s budget, she explains.

“The organization must commit a portion of its total budget towards promoting the contest. Examples of cost-effective promotions are email blasts, online quizzes with prizes and postcards from the destination,” she says. “More costly, yet effective marketing promotions might include mailing a coconut to participants to promote a tropical location, sending a t-shirt compressed into a postcard in the shape of something indicative of the location, such as a hot pepper for a Mexico locale, or shipping a set of margarita glasses and mix along with a branded recipe card. Each of these items should be branded with the sponsoring company’s logo and trip information to pack the most punch.”

Besides poor communication, Bryand says another common shortcoming of many travel incentive programs is improper location selection. To be motivational a destination must appeal to the salespeople who will be expected to put forth the extra effort to get there. Choose Your Destination, an innovative online program created by The Castle Group, puts destination selection in the hands of the salespeople.

“With this program the sales force visits a Website created just for the contest. Salespeople are visually enticed by four destinations, of which they can cast their vote for one,” she explains. “After they vote they are taken to a page where they can see the standings thus far in the form of a live bar graph so they know if their location is in the lead or far behind. We have found that salespeople motivate their coworkers to get involved and cast their votes for a location. The staff appreciates and enjoys having a voice in the decision, so it is a very successful way to launch a new program and garner excitement from the very beginning.”

Of course, once a travel incentive sales contest is over, it’s over, right? Thanks for the memories, time to move on – isn’t that it? Hardly, replies Bryand. As she explains, last year’s travel incentive can play a critical role in making sure this year’s program is a success.

“One of our clients loves to flash photographs from previous incentive trips during sales meetings when they launch the next incentive,” she says. “They like to show off the previous winners to rally a little friendly rivalry among the sales reps while also jogging the memories of previous winners so they are motivated once again to sell for the next incentive.”

Bryand says, “Another way to build excitement is to design a Website just for the sales incentive where sales reps can log on to view the trip itinerary, see photos of the destination, participate in contests relating to both the items they are selling and the destination and view the standings to see where they are in relation to the winners circle. After the trip is complete, create a photo gallery and survey to help winners reminisce about their great experiences and share with their coworkers so everyone will strive to win next time.”