As the U.S. economy continues its struggle to rebound in 2011, EIBTM reported some encouraging trends for the Meetings and Events Industry in their Annual EIBTM Global Industry Trends and Market Share Report. While not completely out of the woods yet, the report highlights some trends that show significant improvements for the year ahead.
Highlights of the report include:
In order for business incentives to be effective they need to meet certain criteria and avoid certain pitfalls. Here are the dos and don’ts of planning successful business incentives:
• Do offer the incentives as a competition or drawing in order to get as much benefit from as many people as possible with as little money as possible.
• Don’t consider giving substantial incentives away without a reason.
• Do consider giving smaller incentives away periodically as well as in lieu of winning larger incentives. Coffee mugs with corporate logos are a great incentive for just about everyone!
• Don’t consider giving minor gifts as rewards for great actions. If Bob from the help desk saved the company $8,000 a month by helping set up a new VoIP calling system then giving him a mug as a reward is insulting.
• Do consider offering incentives to employees that find new ways to save money. Some companies do with the best incentive of all: a percentage of the savings for a set period of time.
• Don’t consider altering deals later just because of the bottom line. Trust is an important factor in any business relationship and it is nearly impossible to rebuild once seriously abused.
• Do consider different types of rewards for different types of employees, partners, suppliers, and so on. Incentives that work for employees probably won’t work well for suppliers.
There is an old expression that suggests that killing two birds with one stone is wise, even if it does sound a little graphic. In the modern era a business equivalent of that translation might be offering top employees the chance to go work on an all-inclusive cruise. Here’s how it works:
• Many companies are now hosting meetings at sea, and that in turn means that companies usually need to have staff members and some of the top brass on the trips. Who better to bring than some of the company’s better employees?
• Choose better employees with a contest that uses set metrics to determine who gets to go and who gets runner up prizes. Runners up should get something reasonable to keep them motivated.
• Make sure to let different departments compete for spots whenever relevant but setting up different departments to compete for spots might be more difficult because it is almost certain to cause some complaining. Department A feels that the metrics they have to live up to are actually more difficult than they feel Department B’s metrics are. Not surprisingly, Department B feels that same way about Department A’s metrics. Avoid this by giving each department a set number of seats or slots.
• Remember that corporate travel expenses can generally be written off so long as they are working trips, so make sure to get proper receipts for the accounting department.
Incentive travel has proven to be a very important and cost effective way to motivate entire groups of people, but many people have shied away from incentive cruises because of the perception that cruises are simply too expensive. If this sounds like you then go grab an accountant and crunch some numbers and you will probably find that it is almost impossible to beat a cruise once everything is considered properly. Here’s what you need to look at:
• Cruises are generally all-inclusive, a fact that means less time is spent planning. How many hours of company time can be saved by not planning everything? Add them up and add them to the scales of financial feasibility.
• A cruise gives people the chance to relax 24/7 from the time they arrive until the time they depart. Put a dollar value on the relaxation factor and add that to the equation.
• Since cruises are almost uniformly all inclusive, there is no risk of issuing a company credit card nor is there a problem to be had when the recipient(s) discover that they should have brought cash along with them and feel that the ‘gift’ is now costing them money.
• The value attached to an employee, partner, supplier, or other person that is singing your praises to their colleagues versus the cost of advertising to those people in the same manner. Nothing beats word of mouth advertising for a reason, and cruise incentives are extremely cost effective even if only measured in this one way.
Any company that is reviewing its incentives and bonuses needs to keep an eye on the bottom line while simultaneously trying to find the best value possible for their spending dollar. It is simply a question of economics, but that does not necessarily mean that an affordable trip to Nebraska is going to seem attractive. A cruise on the other hand is almost always a great travel option worth considering and can be surprisingly affordable. Here’s why cruise travel should be on the incentive plan of any company with travel incentive options:
There are plenty of different meeting incentives, and many different legitimate business reasons to give those business meeting incentives to nearly anyone from employees to suppliers and even political associates. The ultimate business meeting incentive might not be a pay raise, a bag full of money, or even that nice covered parking spot next to the CFO’s parking spot. Instead, it might be a corporate sponsored cruise. Here’s why:
Choosing an incentive cruise for a company's corporate incentive travel program can be a very exciting venture. With all inclusive services and many exotic destinations from which to choose, employees will be motivated to earn their place on the cruise ship. Planning an incentive cruise should not be undertaken at the last minutes. While last minute planning will not make a ship charter impossible, advance planning can ensure enough space for all eligible cruise participants. Advance planning can also help companies make certain that they get the best rates. A meeting planner can offer these tips for successful incentive cruise planning:
1. Booking the cruise – the sooner the cruise is planned, the better. In this way, companies may have their choice of things such as cruise lines and ships. They may also have their choice of itinerary as well.
2. Choosing an itinerary – having an idea of preferred destinations will be most helpful. In addition, companies will also need to consider the length of the cruise. Cruise length often helps determine cruise destination.
3. Choosing a ship – companies need to ensure the ship they choose can easily accommodate their employees. Choosing a ship that is not too big or too small will be essential.
For much of the time employees are in meetings, meeting participants are simply a captive audience. In cases such as these, participants are very likely to “tune out” and miss important information that is being disseminated. This is where the meeting planner can step in and be of invaluable assistance. To avoid situations in which meeting participants “zone out” and either daydream or doodle, meeting planners can make meeting preparation assignments. While this may sound like a meeting planner doling out homework, it actually helps meeting participants take a more significant role in the incentive meeting.
There are several types of meetings that can be held, and these include: problem-solving meetings, sales meetings, brainstorming session, and other types of less formal meetings. With problem-solving meetings, the participants may be made aware of the problem to be discussed ahead of time. They can then be asked to think of a possible solution and potentially share this solution with the group. For sales meetings, participants could be asked to discuss successful strategies they have learned. In a brainstorming session, participants can be asked questions related to the topic of discussion and provide potential solutions are answers. There are many ways in which incentive meetings can be tailored to encourage meaningful employee participation.